The Government of Canada's new action plan represents the largest federal investment in official languages in our history to support the vitality of official-language minority communities and promote our official languages
OTTAWA, March 28, 2018 /CNW/ - Our two official languages are at the heart of who we are as Canadians. It is crucial to have a robust, pan-governmental approach in place to ensure that official-language minority communities continue to grow and thrive and that our two official languages are promoted across the country.
Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, unveiled the Government's Action Plan for Official Languages 2018–2023: Investing in Our Future. This plan offers a vision for the future, new financial support, and specific measures to support the vitality of official-language minority communities and promote French and English from coast to coast to coast.
"Today we are delivering the largest federal investment in official languages in our history," said Minister Joly. "This new plan contains more than 30 new measures to help support our communities across the country and ensure that official languages continue to thrive for years to come, from a Francophone immigration strategy and early childhood education, culture and education initiatives to a new fund for English-speaking Quebeckers."
This new plan follows the Government's pan-Canadian consultations on official languages, which sought direct input and feedback from Canadians. The realities and experiences brought forward by Canadians had a direct impact in shaping the Plan and in ensuring that their priorities are reflected and addressed.
"The stories that I heard from Canadians across the country had a profound effect on how we approached this new plan," noted Minister Joly. "This is a plan for people who dream of a community space where they can attend a class or take in a show in the language they speak at home. It's a plan for neighbours who are eager to welcome French-speaking newcomers from around the world to their communities. We've heard you. And today, we're proud to deliver a plan for you."
In addition to maintaining the funding in support of official languages, this new plan proposes an additional investment of nearly $500 million over five years. This amount includes the $400-million investment announced in Budget 2018, not to mention such recent initiatives as the investment in community-based educational infrastructure for official-language minority communities announced in Budget 2017.
"Some partnerships, including our support for community organizations, continue to deliver valuable results year after year and must be maintained. However, I've heard first-hand about the difficult situations that these groups have found themselves in following more than a decade of underfunding. Today's plan allocates additional resources to help them continue to carry out their work. Other initiatives contained in this plan are new and offer innovative solutions to address ongoing challenges, like addressing the shortage of second-language teachers so that more children can grow up with the ability to work, serve and participate in their communities in both official languages."
The new measures contained in this plan include support for training and recruiting teachers to meet the growing needs of Francophone minority schools and immersion classes ($62.6 million), a free online tool for learning English and French ($12.6 million) and support for minority media facing difficult situations ($14.5 million). More information about these measures, which will be implemented by half a dozen departments, is available in the action plan unveiled today by Minister Joly.
- According to Statistics Canada's 2016 Census, Francophone communities outside Quebec represent 3.8 percent of the population, and the rate of bilingualism among English-speakers outside Quebec is 6.8 percent. According to projections for 2036, the percentage of Francophones outside Quebec could fall to 3 percent, and the national bilingualism rate would increase only among Francophones in Quebec (rising from 44.5 percent currently to 49 percent in 2036). The current rate of bilingualism in Canada is 17.5 percent.
- There are official-language minority communities in every province and territory, each with its own specific realities and needs. This plan seeks to address the unique challenges facing French‑speaking communities outside Quebec, as well as English-speaking communities in Quebec.
- The Plan proposes additional funding of $499.2 million over and above current investments of $2.2 billion, bringing the Government of Canada's total support to almost $2.7 billion over five years.
- The Plan is the result of an analysis of the Pan-Canadian Consultations on Official Languages that were held from June to December 2016. More than 6,500 Canadian individuals and organizations participated, and parliamentary committee reports were tabled on the subject.
SOURCE Canadian Heritage
For further information: (media only), please contact: Simon Ross, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, 819-997-7788; Media Relations, Canadian Heritage, 819-994-9101, 1-866-569-6155, [email protected]