Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Official Languages

Issue 20 - Evidence - Meeting of May 27, 2013

OTTAWA, Monday, May 27, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages met this day, at 5 p.m., to study the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities and to conduct a study on best practices for language policies and second language learning in a context of linguistic duality or plurality.

Senator Maria Chaput (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Allow me to introduce myself, I am Senator Maria Chaput, from Manitoba, chair of the committee. Before introducing the witnesses appearing today, I would invite the committee members to introduce themselves, starting on my left with the deputy chair of the committee.

Senator Champagne: I am Andrée Champagne from Quebec.

Senator Mockler: Percy Mockler from New Brunswick.

Senator Poirier: Rose-May Poirier; I represent New Brunswick.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis; I represent Quebec.

Senator McIntyre: Paul McIntyre from New Brunswick.

Senator Tardif: Claudette Tardif from Alberta.

Senator Robichaud: Fernand Robichaud, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick.

The Chair: The committee is continuing its study on best practices for language policies and second language learning in a context of linguistic duality or plurality and its study on the impacts of recent changes to the immigration system on official language minority communities.

Today, we are pleased to welcome representatives from Statistics Canada who will share recent statistics on immigration and second language learning with us.

On behalf of the committee members, I would like to welcome Mr. Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division and Chief Specialist, Language Statistics Section, and Mr. François Nault, Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.

Gentlemen, on behalf of committee members, I thank you for taking the time to discuss recent data with us in the context of our studies and to answer our questions. The committee has asked you to make a presentation of a maximum of 10 minutes and then senators will follow with questions. Mr. Nault, you have the floor.

François Nault, Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada: I would like to thank the members of the committee for inviting Statistics Canada to appear before them to provide input to their reflection on the status of second language learning and on linguistic diversity in Canada and the challenges associated with the growing portion of the country's population that is attributable to international immigration.

To begin, because of the time w have been given, Mr. Corbeil will provide a general socioeconomic overview of the evolution of Canada's population and the challenges that this evolution poses for official languages and the groups using them today.

Mr. Corbeil will present some statistical data on the learning of our two official languages and the key factors that positively or negatively influence English-French bilingualism in Canada.

He will then briefly describe the evolution of immigration in the country over the past 20 to 30 years and its impact on Canada's linguistic duality and on official language minorities in particular.

Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division and Chief Specialist, Language Statistics Section, Statistics Canada: I will begin by discussing immigration as the primary factor in population growth and diversity.

In its first 2011 census release on population counts, Statistics Canada highlighted, using administrative data, that international immigration is the primary factor in Canada's population growth.

Between 2001 and 2011, migratory increase was responsible for approximately two-thirds of the growth of the country's population. Moreover, population projections reveal that in 30 years, 90 per cent of our population growth will be due to international immigration.

On May 8, 2013, in the release of the first series of data from the National Household Survey (NHS), Statistics Canada revealed that the country's foreign-born population accounted for 20.6 per cent of its total population, or close to 6.8 million people.

Of this number, 1,163,000 had immigrated between 2006 and 2011, representing 17.2 per cent of the foreign-born population. Because of the wide range of countries of origin of these immigrants, it is to be expected that the linguistic portrait of the Canadian population would be just as diverse.

In fact, 79 per cent of all immigrants arriving in the country between 2006 and 2011 had neither English nor French as their mother tongue, but rather one of the some 150 immigrant languages reported. By comparison, across the country, 16 per cent of recent immigrants had English as their mother tongue and just over 5 per cent reported French as their mother tongue.

Outside Quebec, the NHS data revealed that the French-mother-tongue share of recent immigration is 1.3 per cent and that of English and other languages is 18.5 per cent and 80 per cent respectively. In Quebec, the language profile of new immigrants is quite different since more than 21 per cent report French as their mother tongue and 5 per cent report English as their mother tongue.

Other languages accounted for 73.5 per cent. Although the mother tongue criterion provides us with information on the linguistic diversity of the immigrant population, it tells us little about language practices in the home or the use of official languages in public. For example, nationally, although 16 per cent of recent immigrants have English as their mother tongue, almost 31 per cent speak this language most often at home and 74 per cent report English as their first official language spoken, a very telling criterion regarding the use of this language in public or the demand for services from the federal government.

As for French, 5 per cent of recent immigrants reported this language as their mother tongue, 8 per cent as the main language used at home and 13 per cent as the first official language spoken. We should also be aware of the fact that among recent immigrants to Canada, close to 105,000 persons (or 9 per cent) were unable to conduct a conversation in either English or French in 2011.

Linguistic duality in a context of ethnolinguistic diversity: although Canada is becoming increasingly diversified linguistically, the country's two official languages exert a strong pull as languages of convergence and integration into Canadian society, notably as languages of work, education and the provision of government services to the public.

Despite the country's broad linguistic diversity, we should not forget that almost 98 per cent of Canadians can speak English or French. As for French in particular, the last census revealed that close to 10 million Canadians, or 30 per cent, speak this language, far more than those who speak Punjabi, the third language reported most often in the country with 546,000 speakers, or 1.7 per cent of the Canadian population.

Both the challenge posed by this linguistic diversity and the draw of either official language for recent immigrants vary widely from one part of the country to another, regardless of whether we are looking at the situation in Quebec or in the rest of the country.

In 2011, 79 per cent of immigrants living in Quebec reported being able to speak French. This proportion was similar among recent immigrants at 80 per cent. As for knowledge of English, 67 per cent of all immigrants and 56 per cent of recent immigrants were able to speak this language. In all provinces and territories outside Quebec, the proportion of immigrants who reported being able to speak French was 6.3 per cent; this percentage was identical for recent immigrants and for those who had been in the country for more than five years. In the case of English, 87 per cent of all immigrants reported knowing only English, compared with 84 per cent of recent immigrants.

Learning and the ability to speak both official languages represents an important facet of the concept of Canadian linguistic duality. In 2011, 17.5 per cent of the country's population, or 5.8 million people, reported being able to conduct a conversation in English and French. This is a decrease from 2001, when this proportion peaked at 17.7 per cent. Among youth aged 15 to 19 years, 22.6 per cent could speak both languages in 2011, down from 24 per cent in 2001.

However, this evolution changes when Quebec is examined separately from other provinces and territories. In Quebec, the rate of English-French bilingualism among these youth rose from 48 per cent to 52 per cent between 2001 and 2011, while outside Quebec, it decreased from 17 per cent to 14 per cent.

There are two key factors behind the trend observed outside Quebec: the decrease in exposure to the French-as-a- second-language instruction in school and the growing share of the Canadian population accounted for by international immigration, a population less likely to learn both official languages.

Over the past 20 years, although the number of youth enrolled in French immersion in public schools outside Quebec rose from 267,000 to 341,000 students, the number of young people enrolled in a regular basic French-as-a- second-language course fell by 432,000 to 1.4 million in the 2010-2011 school year. In other words, during this period, the proportion of youth in public school exposed to French education decreased from 53 per cent to 44 per cent.

In addition to reduced exposure to French, and consequently, the decline in the bilingualism rate among non- francophone youth, there is erosion over time of the ability to retain the second language. However, this phenomenon affects mainly youth who attended regular French-as-a-second-language program, since youth who attended French immersion programs maintain their bilingual capacity for much longer.

As for the second factor, international immigration, its impact on the evolution of the bilingualism rate is due to the fact that immigrants outside Quebec had an English-French bilingualism rate of 6 per cent in 2011, compared with 11 per cent of the Canadian-born population. Moreover, given that non-bilingual immigration makes up a steadily growing proportion of the entire Canadian population, the result is a decline in the overall bilingualism rate outside Quebec. It should be noted that in Quebec, the English-French bilingualism rate among immigrants was 51 per cent in 2011, compared with 42 per cent among the Canadian-born population.

In closing, I would like to say a few things about French-language immigration in provinces outside Quebec.

Because of the propensity of the vast majority of new immigrants to adopt English rather than French as the main language of use in public, and even in private, in the provinces and territories outside Quebec, attracting, retaining and integrating French-language immigration into francophone communities is a significant challenge.

Based on data from the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 114,173 French-language immigrants outside Quebec. At the time of the 2006 census, this number was 99,000. The roughly 15,000 additional immigrants enumerated in 2011 do not, however, fully reflect the total number of French-language immigrants who settled outside Quebec between 2006 and 2011. In fact, 27,640 immigrants actually reported in 2011 that they had immigrated to the country during this period, or about 5,500 per year.

The difference between this population count and the net French-language immigration enumerated in 2011 is due to the fact that a portion of the immigrants who were living in the provinces and territories outside of Quebec had migrated to Quebec in the last five years.

This situation indicates that the retention of immigration in francophone communities outside Quebec represents a challenge for these communities.

Although 4 per cent of the population outside Quebec reported French as the first official language spoken in 2011, French-language immigrants, based on the criteria of first official language spoken, represented 2 per cent of the entire immigrant population. We should note that this proportion was 3 per cent among recent immigrants.

Despite the growth in French-language immigration outside Quebec, it is not sufficient to offset the decreased demographic weight of the francophone population primarily as a result of increased English-language immigration. Immigration accounts for a growing proportion of the French-language population outside Quebec.

In 1991, international immigrants accounted for 6.2 per cent of the francophone population. Twenty years later, in 2011, that proportion had doubled to 12 per cent. In 2011, of the 114,000 French-language immigrants living outside Quebec, 68 per cent lived in Ontario, mainly in Toronto and Ottawa, 13.5 per cent in British Columbia and 10.4 per cent in Alberta.

In closing, I would like to point out that, in light of the many challenges that immigrants face in integrating into these communities, particularly in the areas of economic and social integration, our consultations with representatives of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada revealed the importance of better understanding those challenges and the needs, obstacles and dynamics that positively or adversely affect immigrant insertion. In this regard, community stakeholders recently expressed significant interest in Statistics Canada conducting a survey of French-language immigrants outside Quebec to enhance their capacity to meet the challenges they will face in the coming decades.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: First of all, gentlemen, I would like to thank you for your excellent presentation. I have a few questions for you.

Between 2006 and 2011, the number of people who reported being able to conduct a conversation in both official languages of Canada grew by about 350,000 people, for a total of 5.8 million. The level of bilingualism went from 17.4 per cent in 2006 to 17.5 per cent in 2011. What do you think of that statistic? How would you describe the level of interest Canadians have in learning a second language?

Mr. Corbeil: Thank you for your excellent question. It is clear that the number of Canadians claiming to be able to carry on a conversation in both official languages is increasing. The proportion, on the other hand, has fallen. You should be aware that the 2006 statistic of 17.4 per cent should be interpreted with prudence. In fact, the proportion was 17.7 per cent in 2001, and in 2006, the proportion of francophones who stated they could no longer speak their second language had decreased, which is very difficult to explain. At the time, this was attributed to an email that had criss- crossed the country calling upon Canadians not to state that they were bilingual for fear of losing services offered in French.

That being said, this is why I prefer taking a look at what transpired between 2001 and 2011, so from 17.7 to 17.5. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, there was an increase in the number of people who could speak both languages, but in terms of demographic weighting, that proportion has fallen and the main factors can be attributed to the fact that we have seen a strong increase in international immigration and that the number of students registered in French-as-a- second-language courses outside of Quebec has decreased, as well as their numbers elsewhere.

I should point out that the statistic you mentioned for the period between 2006 and 2011 refers to a time when the bilingualism rate in Quebec increased by two percentage points, going from 40.6 to 42.6, for people whose first language was French, in 70 per cent of cases. Of the approximately 36,000 other people outside of Quebec who reported they could converse in both official languages, 70 per cent are people whose first language is French. This therefore demonstrates that francophones are clearly more likely — outside of Quebec, of course — to learn both official languages.

Within Quebec, the situation is exceptional because we know that young anglophones and anglophones in general have a very high rate of French-English bilingualism.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Do you have any statistics about young francophones learning English in Quebec?

Mr. Corbeil: Absolutely. Bilingualism has grown significantly in Quebec, but I should point out that in the case of francophones, that correlates to a different way of learning the second language. Young anglophones generally learn the second language at school. Therefore, their rate of bilingualism peaks between the ages of 10 and 19. We see the same phenomenon in Quebec, which is to say stronger growth of bilingualism, and a higher rate amongst youth. Quebec francophones begin to improve their second language skills when they enter the job market. Our statistics on the use of French and English in the workplace reflect that. We can see that francophones tend to use more English as soon as they enter the labour market.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: That is an important statistic. Do you have examples of practices implemented in certain regions that work particularly well?

Mr. Corbeil: I may not be the best person to answer that question, but I will reply indirectly.

As you may know, the first experiments that led to implementing immersion programs in Canada — experiments conducted by Mr. Genesee and Mr. Penfield of McGill University, in Saint-Lambert — clearly demonstrated the factors that contribute to bilingualism and retention of the acquired skills. Among the factors identified were recognition, support, guidance and supervision by both parents and teachers, but also the presence of the second language in people's environment.

This element is therefore particularly important, because the statistics that were recently released clearly indicate that young people reach a peak of bilingualism between 15 and 19 years old, and after they leave school, their rate of bilingualism goes down, no matter which cohort they belong to. To make an analogy, when one stops playing the piano, one loses the ability to play it. It is the same thing with teaching French.

Senator McIntyre: Mr. Corbeil, as a senator for New Brunswick, I would like to discuss with you some of the recent statistics on immigration. According to the results released May 8 by Statistics Canada, throughout Canada, one out of five people is born outside the country; the rate in New Brunswick is one person out of 25.

Still according to the numbers provided by Statistics Canada, one also notes that New Brunswick seems to have a great deal of difficulty keeping its immigrants. From 2006 to 2011, more than 5,000 immigrants left New Brunswick for another Canadian province or another country.

It was also reported that the immigration retention rate is only 68 per cent in New Brunswick, whereas it is much higher in other Canadian provinces, such as Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta.

Furthermore, the proportion of francophones among immigrants is also diminishing in New Brunswick. For example, between 2006 and 2011, I noted that New Brunswick welcomed fewer than 600 francophone immigrants, which is likely to reinforce the imbalance between both language communities.

Is it normal for a large number of immigrants to arrive in one province and then leave it a short time after for another? Is this a frequent occurrence in the Atlantic region?

Mr. Corbeil: Once again, that is an excellent question. I have to emphasize that right now, the statistics available, which were released May 8, only deal with the size of the population. That means we do not yet have data on mobility or interprovincial migration. Those numbers will be released June 26.

Earlier, I mentioned that there are approximately 27,000 immigrants who declared that they had arrived in the country, outside of Quebec, between 2006 and 2011, but when we look at the balance — the total French-language immigrant population in 2011, minus that counted in 2006 — the number is lower, which most likely means that there was a migration to Quebec.

An analysis document on French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec was released in 2010, and migration between provinces is very significant. For example, between Ontario and Quebec, and between New Brunswick and Quebec, there is indeed a high level of migration. In general, regardless of language group, the factors that have a great influence on interprovincial migration are often economic in nature. I do not want to offer an opinion on the situation in New Brunswick today, but what is clear is that economic factors are pushing people to migrate. It can be noted that for francophones in general, Alberta and British Columbia have experienced a relatively high growth of their francophone population compared to other provinces. That means there really has been a migration of francophones towards the western provinces and to Quebec, and of course immigration in New Brunswick is no different. It should also be noted that immigration among French-speakers represents a small population in terms of overall count.

Senator McIntyre: Particularly since immigrants have a tendency to head towards urban environments rather than rural ones.

Mr. Corbeil: Absolutely. And no doubt you have noticed the same situation in New Brunswick. There really is a migration from the north of the province towards cities like Moncton.

Senator McIntyre: In New Brunswick, immigrants are more likely to head towards urban centres, such as Moncton and Saint John.

What are the main countries of origin for immigrants who have arrived in Canada over the last few years? Can it be said with any degree of certainty that they mainly come from South Korea, first of all, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom?

Mr. Corbeil: If we are talking about immigrants as a whole in Canada, I will give you a statistic. In 1961, nearly 60 per cent of international immigration came from Europe, whereas about 14 to 15 per cent came from Asia. Today, that situation is entirely reversed. We know that at least 60 to 65 per cent of international immigration welcomed here comes from Asia.

When it comes to francophone immigration, the situation is completely different. Most French-speaking immigrants who settle outside of Quebec come mostly from Africa and Europe. It is different in Quebec; in the Outaouais region, we see a cross-border phenomenon. The two largest francophone immigration groups come from Latin America and the Maghreb. On the Ottawa side, there is a large and growing population of Spanish-speakers and of people from the Maghreb, who speak Arabic. This characterizes Quebec and distinguishes it from other provinces in terms of country of origin.

Senator Tardif: Thank you very much, and welcome. I am very concerned that francophone minority communities are not receiving their fair share of francophone immigrants. From 2006 to 2011, these communities only increased by 0.5 per cent, compared to statistics from 2001 to 2006.

Do you believe that the fact that there was no target set in the last roadmaps had an impact on policies and the ability to recruit francophone immigrants in these regions, where French is not the language of the majority?

Mr. Corbeil: As you know, at Statistics Canada, we try not to take a stand on the influence of policy. However, once again, I will answer you indirectly. I do not know if many people know that, in fact, at the beginning or in the middle of the 1980s, 30 per cent of immigrants who settled in Quebec knew how to speak French. In 2010-2011, nearly 65 per cent of immigrants who settled in Quebec, at the moment of their arrival, could speak French. It is well-known that this change is mainly due to Quebec's policies in matters of immigration, as it now selects immigrants who speak French or who have a natural tendency to gravitate towards French.

Outside of Quebec, the majority of immigrants do not have a natural tendency to gravitate towards French, in large part because of the countries that are sources of immigration. But it is clear that it is not because there are not enough French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec. That is all that I can tell you.

Furthermore, demographic projections were recently done by the International Organization of the Francophonie. I mentioned earlier that the country that supplies most of the immigrants outside of Quebec is without a doubt Africa.

It is said that within 40 years, Africa's francophone population could triple. Therefore, at the international level, the francophone population is going to increase. How can we explain this? It is clear that targets help to better orient the selection of immigrants.

Senator Tardif: Thank you for mentioning the importance of targets to attract more francophone immigrants. Speaking of targets, I know that Manitoba and Ontario set targets of 7 per cent for Ontario, and 5 per cent for recruiting francophone immigrants. Do you know if these provinces were able to reach their targets?

Mr. Corbeil: All that I can say is that in Ontario, if we look at the total population, for example, among recent immigrants who arrived between 2006 and 2011, 2.5 per cent of the immigrant population indicated that French was the first official language spoken; if we add French and English, which is something of a residual category, 2.1 per cent can be added.

However, this famous category often has to be divided in two, because the behaviour of these immigrants is much closer to that of English-speaking immigrants, rather than to those who only have French as their mother tongue.

I do not remember the target set by the Province of Ontario, but one thing is certain: the proportion has nevertheless increased over the last five-year period. Between 2001 and 2006, the proportion of immigrants who spoke French as their first official language was 1.6 per cent, and I mentioned to you earlier that it had increased to 2.5 per cent. There was still an increase from 9,000 to 12,400 French-speaking immigrants, if we look only at the criteria of first official language spoken.

Senator Tardif: You are talking about the province of Ontario?

Mr. Corbeil: Yes.

Senator Tardif: I think that a target of 4.4 per cent was identified in 2001 as being a realistic target for the number of francophone immigrants. In your opinion, does a target of 4.4 per cent represent the proportion of francophones in Canada outside of Quebec?

Mr. Corbeil: That was the reason why the proportion of 4.4 per cent was set. Indeed, in 2001, exactly, the proportion of people who spoke French as a first official language outside of Quebec was 4.4 per cent. This proportion is starting to go down; today, it is more like 4 per cent.

Senator Tardif: Today, it would be 4 per cent?

Mr. Corbeil: Yes.

Senator Tardif: Four per cent would be an achievable target?

Mr. Corbeil: If our goal was to ensure that immigration represents this level, that would be the target. That being said, one must also keep in mind that immigration, at that level, is not enough to compensate for francophones' decreased demographic weight. Because as we all know, the population is aging, and parents have a tendency to transmit English rather than French to their children. If the goal were to set a target that compensates this decreased demographic weight, it would have to be much higher than 4 per cent.

Senator Tardif: Could you suggest a number?

Mr. Corbeil: I cannot suggest a number just like that, but the fact is that Statistics Canada is a world leader in the field of micro-simulation projections. On a cost-recovery basis, it would be possible to determine if, for example, we added 25,000, 30,000, 50,000 or 100,000 immigrants, how that demographic weight and the number of francophones outside Quebec would change, taking into account interprovincial migration, the aging population and teaching French as a second language; all of these elements influence the evolution of French-speaking populations outside Quebec.

Senator Tardif: That would be a very interesting study and it could certainly be considered.

The Chair: Two supplementary questions by Senators Robichaud and McIntyre.

Senator Robichaud: When you talked about conducting such a study, you spoke of cost recovery; does that mean you do not have the means to conduct such a study right now?

Mr. Corbeil: The fact is that most of the studies done by Statistics Canada are done at the request of or thanks to the financial support of the federal government's agencies and departments. For example, Statistics Canada, over the last few years, has done population projections going up to 2030 and 2036 for visible minority populations and Aboriginal populations. A similar study could be done for French-speaking populations. The idea is not so much to use it like a crystal ball, it is more to use it like a planning tool, which means as soon as one acts on a particular parameter, it is possible to know what the resulting data will be in 20 or 30 years. Rather than target a specific amount or a particular number, one can get a pretty good idea, taking into account the underlying factors linked to the evolution of language groups.

Senator McIntyre: Senator Tardif raised the issue of a target. When talking about a target, if I understand correctly, we are talking about the 2006 strategic plan?

Mr. Corbeil: Yes.

Senator McIntyre: Because there was another strategic plan in 2003.

Mr. Corbeil: Exactly.

Senator McIntyre: Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that it was decided that the plan should be revised in 2003 in order to give the government until 2023 to reach its 4.4 per cent target. Did we not also talk about an intermediate target of 1.8 per cent until 2013?

Mr. Corbeil: That is possible, but I would have to consult my colleagues from Citizenship and Immigration Canada about that.

Senator McIntyre: It seems that there were problems with the target of 4.4 per cent by 2013, so the target was extended until 2023; at least, that is what I understood.

Mr. Corbeil: I know that our colleagues decided to use the criteria of first official language spoken. Earlier, I mentioned that 6 per cent of newcomers outside of Quebec indicated that they could hold a conversation in French. That is an additional issue because, indeed, it raises the question of knowing what is being done with these immigrants who can hold a conversation in French, and how that is different from people who happen to be in our category of French and English spoken as first official languages, which means essentially that they are bilingual immigrants. The definition criterion is still relatively important in this matter.

The Chair: Mr. Corbeil, when you talk about the proportion of 4 per cent, is this francophones who speak French as their first language?

Mr. Corbeil: Exactly.

The Chair: So if you take into consideration all those who can speak French, what percentage would we have then?

Mr. Corbeil: We are talking essentially about outside Quebec?

The Chair: Yes.

Mr. Corbeil: If we look at the statistics, and put all of the groups together, among immigrants who arrived between 2006 and 2011, 12.6 per cent of these immigrants indicated that they could speak both French and English. If I add those who indicated that they could only speak French, I would add an additional 7.9 per cent to that proportion, which would add up to 20.5 per cent of immigrants who have arrived. Including all language groups means including all mother tongues, and that would add up to a proportion of 20.6 per cent of the population, whereas if I only take those who speak neither French nor English as their mother tongue, my proportion of bilingualism would be 11 per cent, which is relatively similar.

However, essentially, with immigrants whose mother tongue is English, this proportion is obviously much lower; around 8 per cent.

Broadly, overall, among all of the immigrants who arrived between 2006 and 2011, about 20 per cent stated they could speak French, but 12.6 per cent stated they spoke the two official languages of the country.

The Chair: What is the total for people outside of Quebec who can speak French?

Mr. Corbeil: As a proportion, it is 20.5 per cent, and in terms of a number, it would be about 238,000 people who have arrived in Canada. I am misleading you; if I look outside of Quebec — I apologize — the proportion is, rather, 6.3 per cent of people who came to live here between 2006 and 2011.

I am sorry, earlier I was talking about the whole country. In numerical terms, it is 58,000 people.

The Chair: We therefore have 4 per cent of francophones with French as a first language. Is that outside of Quebec?

Mr. Corbeil: That is correct.

The Chair: And in terms of people able to speak French, francophones with French as a first language and all the others, how many are there?

Mr. Corbeil: In total, we have 6.2 per cent among recent immigrants, but it is essentially the same thing if we look at all immigrants, where it is 6.3 per cent.

The Chair: Does that include anglophones dubbed francophiles?

Mr. Corbeil: It includes all mother tongues.

Mr. Nault: Madam Chair, are you asking for the proportion among immigrants or for the general population?

The Chair: For the general population outside of Quebec.

Mr. Nault: Jean-Pierre is giving you the numbers for immigrants.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Nault. I thought there was something I did not understand.

Mr. Corbeil: In total, outside of Quebec, about 2.4 million people are able to speak French. If we exclude the approximately 1 million francophones, we would have approximately 1.5 million non-francophones able to maintain a conversation in French.

The Chair: So what is the percentage?

Mr. Corbeil: Outside of Quebec, it is about 11 per cent of the population.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Corbeil: I can provide all of the statistics to you. I am sorry, I was really focussed on immigration rather than on the general population.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Corbeil.

Senator Poirier: Thank you for being here today to answer our questions. In New Brunswick, changes were made to delay the start of immersion to grade 5, which caused a lot of controversy. Do you know if, in recent years, New Brunswick has followed the national trend of increasing immersion enrolment?

Mr. Corbeil: If we want to compare New Brunswick, it is important to note that the proportion is lower because in New Brunswick, there was growth of about 17 per cent in immersion program enrolment in recent years, but that proportion would no doubt have been higher if it were not for the fact that now children have access to immersion later in grade school. That qualifies these changes a bit.

It is clear that in New Brunswick, in terms of an increase in the number of enrolments in immersion programs, it is much lower than in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia, over the past 20 years, the number of children enrolled in immersion has increased by nearly 98 per cent, so it has almost doubled, while in New Brunswick growth has been about 17 per cent.

Senator Poirier: Has the percentage decreased because of the delay in starting?

Mr. Corbeil: I would have to check. It is clear that in recent years this statistic has effectively decreased. For immersion in the public sector, in New Brunswick we find that in 2006-2007, there were 21,285 children enrolled in an immersion program while in 2010-2011, there were 17,500. That is a decrease of nearly 4,000 students.

We have to be careful about comparability given that the program was changed, but in terms of a number of enrolments in a given year, there was a decrease of about 4,000 students.

Senator Poirier: Given that New Brunswick is an officially bilingual province and that many adults and youth have made efforts to become bilingual, can you give us a comparison of the number of people in New Brunswick who are bilingual or who have knowledge of the two official languages compared to 15 or 20 years ago?

Mr. Corbeil: That proportion has not changed a great deal. Unfortunately, I do not have those statistics with me, but it would be easy enough to access them. What I remember is that bilingualism, which is quite high in New Brunswick, among francophones in particular, has remained relatively stable over the years. Among anglophones, it is also quite stable but the proportion is much lower. We can provide the data at your request.

Senator Poirier: Can you send it to the clerk of the committee?

Mr. Corbeil: Of course, we will provide those statistics.

Senator Champagne: Mr. Corbeil, there is something you repeated at least twice, maybe three times, in your presentation. You said that the peak of bilingualism among youth was between 15 and 19 years of age. Were you talking about all young Canadians or immigrants? Because it was unclear for a bit and we did not know if we were talking about immigrants or all Canadians including immigrants.

Mr. Corbeil: We are really talking about all Canadians.

Senator Champagne: As soon as they enter the labour market, bilingualism decreases?

Mr. Corbeil: Exactly.

Senator Champagne: Is it French or English that is lost at that point?

Mr. Corbeil: It is really French because retention of English by francophones is really very stable. In fact, it is mostly fueled by labour market dynamics. Regarding knowledge of French among anglophones or non-francophones in Quebec, it is also retained very well over time, mainly because of the significant presence of French.

It is outside of Quebec that this is a particular challenge because young people mainly encounter French at school. As soon as they leave school, they stop practising and speaking the language.

Senator Champagne: Earlier, you compared it to piano. If you do not play anymore, you do not play as well if you are still able to play or read. I think it is the same thing with a language, unless the language was learned very thoroughly.

Mr. Nault: I would like to add something. What is nevertheless interesting is that youth who were in immersion programs retained French much longer than English. Youth who went through immersion programs were exposed to French much more. Their knowledge stays with them much longer than that of youth who were only exposed to French courses at school.

Senator Champagne: I was looking at the tables that were provided to us to prepare for today's meeting. Perhaps the last census was less precise than previous ones, but I noticed that it said: "Number of languages spoken: both official languages and one or more non-official languages or multiple non-official languages only."

But one official language and one or more languages, is that something that was asked on the last census? I remember having filled out my form very carefully, but was it really something that was asked?

In my own home, it was a difficult question to answer because between the two of us, my husband and me, there are almost five languages in the house: French, English, Italian, German and a good amount of Spanish. How should that question be answered?

In future editions of the census, it would be an excellent question to include, because it provides a broader overview of the languages spoken within our country.

Mr. Corbeil: The 1991 census was the first one to include a question on the knowledge of and the ability to speak a language other than French or English. That question was asked in each subsequent census, except in 2011, because there were only three questions in the census itself, and that question was included instead in the National Household Survey. However, throughout Canada and the provinces, we have useful information on knowledge of languages other than French or English.

Senator Champagne: We all want, especially around this table, I think, the French language to have an important place in our country, for it to endure and be spoken everywhere.

In France, this week, the National Assembly ruled that several university courses, especially in economics and business, will be taught in English. Not only will that be tolerated, as was already the case, but it will even be encouraged. Furthermore, there is a proliferation of anglicisms on television channels like TV5, for example. I heard the word "jackpot," for example, and the words "buzz" and "buzzer" were used in French. That would never be accepted here. Where will we find hope to value the French language more if we can no longer count on France?

This year, the Francophonie Summit was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Congo-Brazzaville, which was called the "heart of the French language," along with Senegal, among others. This year, for example, the meeting of ministers of the Francophonie will be held in the Ivory Coast as well as the meeting of parliamentarians. How can we find a way to reinvigorate the French language at home now? Should we bring in people from Congo or the Ivory Coast to help us preserve our French in Canada? Based on the numbers you have on immigration, do you think that that is the solution?

Mr. Corbeil: Of course, I am both Jean-Pierre Corbeil the citizen and Jean-Pierre Corbeil from Statistics Canada. I will try to speak from somewhere between the two. We know very well that valuing a language is a basic aspect. Outside of Quebec, there are almost 240,000 people who have French as a mother tongue and who stated, in 2006, that they were more comfortable in English than in French. And most of those francophones live in municipalities where their demographic weight is lower than 10 per cent of the population.

We must remember, when we think about international immigration as a solution, that these immigrants are not necessarily able to meet the challenges that francophones are themselves having trouble meeting. In 2006, a major inquiry on the vitality of official language minorities was undertaken, and one of the main realizations was exactly the fact that there are challenges to meet. However, we must remember that bringing in newcomers is not the only way to resolve the problem; immigrants are essential, undeniably, due to population decline and the aging of the population, but the challenges we are facing with regard to maintaining, promoting and ensuring the vitality of the French language is a global challenge above all. That is why we need to look at the various dimensions, meaning learning, transmission and promotion. That way perhaps we will be able to better understand and suggest possible areas of action.

Senator Champagne: Once they join the labour market, they will catch the disease and will move into English, so French will become a second language, or even a third or fourth language.

Mr. Corbeil: Using census data, we have a picture of French-language immigration outside Quebec. For several years now, francophone immigrants have self-identified a need to learn both official languages. What this means is that immigrants who only speak French, essentially those from Africa, have an unemployment rate that is three percentage points higher than those from other countries where people really need to learn a second language. This also tells us that these immigrants have a high level of education; a large percentage of new immigrants have a university degree and yet they suffer from higher unemployment.

Senator Champagne: They choose to come to Canada because here they will have access to both languages and it will be easier here to learn English. This, along with France, which is starting to use only English in its universities, makes me ask what are we coming to? This is something that I will raise at the next international meeting, believe me.

Senator Robichaud: What you are telling us is extremely interesting. I hope there will not be a test on the statistics. University students panic when they have to learn about statistics. However, it is extremely interesting. Do you have data on the language of work, meaning what changes there may be from French to English or vice versa, depending on the various regions? Because this clearly has an impact on the language of preference or the language that immigrants prefer when it comes to finding a job and migrating to the English community.

Mr. Corbeil: You are quite right. To that end, the latest data on the languages used at work will be published on June 26, along with data on interprovincial migration, education and the labour market. Of course, outside Quebec, it is clear that there was a greater tendency to use French in sectors where there are more francophones. It is no surprise that in the area, for example, of education, or health care, francophones use their language at work more. Of course, in the public service, even if there is a difference on this side of the border and on the other, francophones working in the public service in Quebec tend to use French more than those who work on this side. You are quite right, it depends on the province.

In New Brunswick, francophones use French much more, but it depends nonetheless on the sector, meaning where exactly they work. Those working in Moncton tend to use French less than those working further north in the province. In Ontario, there is an enormous difference between the Ottawa region, the north versus the southwestern part of the province, that is quite clear.

You are correct, it is difficult to establish a causal connection. Does the language of work influence the language spoken at home or vice versa? The Quebec code is quite exemplary in this regard. When French is used at home, even if only as a second language, an extremely strong correlation is established between the use of that language at work and in the public space.

Data on the language of work are extremely useful. It is almost the only information we have that can tell us about the use of languages outside the private sphere.

Senator Robichaud: Do you have data from other countries where French is the second language, meaning what influence French is experiencing or subject to?

Mr. Corbeil: In fact, Senator Champagne mentioned France earlier. Despite everything, it should be mentioned that this represents approximately 1 per cent of classes in this area. It is clear that the most significant growth within the francophonie, and we mentioned this earlier, is seen on the African continent. Hypotheses by specialists demonstrate that, increasingly, French education in Africa is being promoted given the growing importance of French there. Although French is not necessarily their mother tongue, many Africans in francophone countries attend these educational institutions that are essentially French. According to the hypotheses, this contributes to the increased presence of French internationally.

There are other factors involved. A number of African countries are members of the francophonie, some of which have French as an official language, others as a language of use. This has an influence on the languages used.

We note that immigrants from countries with French as an official language are much more likely to adopt or turn to French. If that country belongs to the francophonie and French is not frequently used, that trend is not necessarily seen among immigrants from those countries.

Senator Robichaud: Do you have data on the use of French in Belgium?

Mr. Corbeil: If memory serves me, Belgium stopped asking language-related questions in 1947. The reason was that it is a major challenge or political issue. Similarly, France for some time has stopped asking language-related questions in its census.

Studies have been undertaken however, in recent years, with many language-related questions. Belgium is truly a unique case, and we do not have any information about this in any census at least.

Senator Robichaud: We need to ask you to go to Belgium to collect the data, correct? Thank you.

Senator Mockler: I was listening carefully when you listed the statistics on immigrants going to other provinces. I know that all the provinces provide courses. If we still had early immersion in New Brunswick, would this allow us to retain more immigrants?

Mr. Corbeil: Unfortunately, I cannot answer that question. We do not have that type of data. Furthermore, this is a fairly recent phenomenon in New Brunswick. Statistics Canada therefore has no survey that would allow us to establish a causal link with the presence of immersion programs or lack thereof. I am not ruling out that type of survey, but we do not have one at the present time.

Senator Mockler: If an association such as Canadian Parents for French asked you to conduct such a study, would you be able to do so?

Mr. Corbeil: To the extent that Statistics Canada can conduct such studies, we do not generally do qualitative surveys. Generally speaking, our surveys are statistical in nature. As an example, we have retrospective surveys which allow us to identify, among other things, why you left the province and for which reasons. This type of retrospective question can be asked in the course of a survey.

Senator Mockler: Might it be possible to find out whether there is a relation to immigrants remaining in the New Brunswick region if we had such a request?

Mr. Corbeil: It would be possible to ask questions about why you migrated, for example. Was it essentially for economic reasons or because the services you wanted were not being offered? It would be possible to ask that type of question.

Senator Mockler: Immigrants are not only motivated by economic factors when they move elsewhere. Could you tell us about other factors?

Mr. Corbeil: That is certainly a key factor. There are, of course, studies. Let us look at the example of Quebec anglophones. We asked questions, in the past, to find out if Quebec anglophones still planned to reside in Quebec over the next five years. A fairly high number told us they wanted to leave the province for post-secondary studies. So work, studies, and family reunification are all factors. Some people have relatives in other provinces and the rest of the family may migrate. In some cases they are temporary workers who have been joined later on by the rest of the family. Those are the main factors at play.

Senator Mockler: Universities also have a role to play. You mentioned education. At the University of Moncton, for example, in engineering, administration, specialized courses, even in law, there is a high per capita percentage of immigrants who have come to New Brunswick specifically for educational purposes.

There is another factor you neglected to mention. I would like you to tell us about it, since I recently participated in a meeting in Moncton pertaining to culture. Is culture a factor in attracting our immigrants?

Mr. Corbeil: Without a doubt. Here in the Outaouais, for example, we see some mobility from one census to the other. As soon as people start a family, they become interested in their children growing up in a francophone environment. So you see a certain migration. We also see that amongst anglophones, but we can see that the need to live in a French-language community is a factor that may influence migration. People may move for work-related or study-related reasons, but you are quite right that the cultural and linguistic components clearly play a role.

Senator Mockler: Do other factors encourage the immigrants?

Mr. Corbeil: I am convinced there are others. None comes to mind for the moment, but it is quite possible that other factors influence immigration.

Senator Mockler: Could you send us a summary of factors that affect our small communities? In large urban centres like Montreal and Toronto, the situation is different. What about small towns and the situation in rural areas?

Mr. Corbeil: The only source of information I can think of, and I could take a look at what we have in terms of other surveys, is the survey I mentioned earlier conducted in 2006.

Senator Mockler: Yes.

Mr. Corbeil: We do not often do this in our surveys, but we asked respondents what the main reasons were for migrating or wanting to migrate. I will make inquiries to find out whether that information is available.

The Chair: Could you please send that to the committee?

Mr. Corbeil: Absolutely.

Senator Champagne: I have a comment rather than a question. In the town of Saint-Hyacinthe, where I live, 20 or 30 years ago there were many people who had come from elsewhere because we had a veterinary medicine faculty at the University of Montreal; it was the only French-language school of veterinary medicine in North America, with labs right next door, a research institute and the Institute of Agriculture and Food Technology.

Many people came from everywhere to study there, including many Africans, and to live in this wonderful town of 45,000 inhabitants where we heard many different languages and saw people we never would have seen when I was growing up.

We welcome people who sometimes decide to stay. We do try to keep them, especially if they are bringing their own culture to us and they speak French.

The Chair: We are beginning the second round. We only have 15 minutes left and three senators have indicated their wish to ask questions.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: On June 26 of this year, you will be publishing statistics about interprovincial mobility and data on the language used at work. I have a question about that.

I am a member of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee. One of our witnesses last week, Mr. Woo, recommended that we teach Chinese to Canadian children, in all Canadian schools.

Is this already being done in British Columbia? How many Chinese are there in British Columbia?

I know this is not a file you deal with directly, but it is one of my concerns and I would like to obtain an answer.

Mr. Corbeil: I can provide you with those statistics. I should point out we are talking about a family of languages; people who speak Mandarin do not necessarily speak Cantonese. If we take all the Chinese languages together, there are over one million people who speak Chinese at home or as a first language.

I mentioned previously that the language most often reported as the language spoken was Punjabi and not an individual Chinese language.

When we compare our 10 million Canadians who can converse in French at the national level, we can clearly see that French is very far ahead. The challenge is at the local and regional levels, where it is clear that languages such as Chinese or Punjabi have a much stronger presence than French. I should point out that this is influenced by the length of stay in the country, as most immigrants no longer transmit that language beyond the second generation. Despite the fact that the 2006 data demonstrate that in Vancouver, nearly one out of every two persons whose mother tongue is Chinese has stated that they used Chinese at work, we do know that the longer immigrants stay here, the more they tend to use one official language or the other.

We do not know whether the future trends reflect what we have seen in the past, but we must not forget that although there is a great deal of linguistic diversity in Canada, the official languages serve as a significant factor of convergence. Will people in the future use Chinese or another language to do business? That is possible. That being said, it is clear that the use of these languages in the workplace is to a large extent found in sectors such as the food service industry, accommodation, and community services, as opposed to the high-tech and emerging services sectors. So there are some nuances that have to be taken into account.

Learning foreign languages is an essential phenomenon, but we have to be careful in saying that in 20 or 30 years, the Chinese languages will dominate. We really are in no position to say how things will be at this point in time.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: Perhaps not dominate, but the purpose of Mr. Woo's comments was to tell us to get prepared. We already have significant trade relations with China and he was saying that, in the immediate future, we will have to be able to work with them or go to China and then come back. He was talking from a trade perspective.

Mr. Corbeil: The Chinese in Africa are now learning French to be able to do business with the Africans. It is my understanding that it is not the Chinese languages that are growing in importance internationally, but rather French which will become much more widespread over the decades. There are several different scenarios and opinions on this matter.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: I was always under the impression that English was used more internationally and that French had been set aside. I had a wrong idea.

Mr. Corbeil: There are various theories and hypotheses. If we rely on the data provided by international organizations and certain books that have been written on the topic, French at the international level could grow in importance significantly.

Senator Fortin-Duplessis: That is good news.

Senator Tardif: I would like to inform Senator Fortin-Duplessis that we have had an immersion program in Mandarin in Edmonton, Alberta for the past few years and, of course, in British Columbia.

Mr. Corbeil: In British Columbia, French is one of the six languages offered.

Senator Tardif: The statistics show that since 2006 and 2007, there has been a decline in the number of students taking core, regular French, not immersion, at both the primary and secondary levels. We also know that several provinces in Canada do not require that French be taught at any point in the school curriculum.

Could you tell us whether there is any link or correlation between those provinces that make the teaching of French mandatory at one point in the school curriculum and the fact that enrolment in French-as-a-second-language courses are increasing or declining?

Mr. Corbeil: That is an excellent question. We do not have statistics available on enrolment in the various programs, whether they be core programs, or immersion programs, but we know very little about the factors that have an impact on enrolment. Various organizations have done different surveys.

When we ask which second language children should learn, it is clear that the further west we go, the more likely French is put forward as a second language.

Having a child enrolled in an immersion program, for example, or taught French as a second language, motivates parents to want their child to be able to attend a French-as-a-second-language program. Clearly, in the west, the percentage is lower. That said, in British Columbia and in Alberta, there has nevertheless been a very significant increase in immersion program enrolments.

In Alberta, over the past 20 years, enrollment has increased by 26 per cent and in British Columbia, by nearly 60 per cent. At present, we know very little about the factors that could have had an influence on this evolution, but we do in fact need to take a look at this.

Senator Tardif: I would suggest such a topic would make an interesting study. Right now, we do not know whether the increase in Alberta can be attributed to the fact that there are more immigrants. Or could it be, for example, the fact that in British Columbia, French is not mandatory, but learning a second language is mandatory between grades 5 and 8.

Mr. Corbeil: Absolutely.

Senator Tardif: In Alberta, this requirement does not exist, nor does it in Saskatchewan. We are wondering what impact this may have, and I think that this would be important to look at.

Senator Robichaud: There is a machine that is making a lot of noise; we will speak louder. Earlier you said that the Official Languages Act had a convergence effect. What did you mean by that?

Mr. Corbeil: I did not say that the Official Languages Act had an effect of convergence; I said that the official languages represented a factor of convergence. I did not say anything about the act.

Senator Robichaud: All right, could you please explain what you meant by this effect?

Mr. Corbeil: I say this primarily because the past few censuses have dealt with this matter to great length. They have included constant references to the very great linguistic diversity in the country, the fact that there are more than 200 languages in use, if we include the Aboriginal languages reported in the census.

When we look at the language used in the workplace, for instance, although 20 per cent of Canadians have a mother tongue other than French or English, only 2 per cent make regular use of a language other than French or English at work.

This means that, in the private sphere, as mentioned earlier, languages other than French or English tend not to be transferred to the children after the second generation. And when children complete their education in the institutional school network and enter the workforce, the predominance of English — of course, this is more the case outside Quebec — and that of French as well, result in the other languages not being used to any great significance by the Canadian population.

This is what I mean when I talk about convergence. In Quebec, we tend to talk about the language of public use or the language used in public. However, we clearly see that the use of other languages, aside from French or English, is very rare and quite infrequent in Quebec, even in the Montreal region.

Senator Robichaud: You spoke about official languages, and not about the Official Languages Act; is there not a convergence?

Mr. Corbeil: I will give you a scoop. Tomorrow morning, at 8:30, Statistics Canada is releasing a study entitled: The evolution of English-French bilingualism in Canada from 1961 to 2011.

Many people are talking about the 50th anniversary of the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, which led to the first Official Languages Act. Of course, the Official Languages Act has played and will continue to play a pivotal role. That is why we talk about an officially bilingual country. The legislation is complex, whether we are talking about services or various parts of the law. Of course, the legislative framework has played a significant role; today nobody can deny this in Canada.

Senator Champagne: Are you trying to tell us that the Official Languages Act is complex? I do not think that we are telling each other anything new. For the people making this announcement tomorrow, with the 50 years of official languages, it would perhaps be good to have a big logo, somewhere, stating: "You know and speak two languages, it is much easier to learn a third and then a fourth."

And that is what we have to make people understand. Once you know two languages, learning a third or a fourth is much easier.

I am absolutely delighted and proud, and I cannot help bragging when I think about my granddaughter, who is finishing CEGEP in a few weeks or days, because she knows four languages. Club Med sought her out to hire her — she is going to university — because she knows French, English, Spanish and German. She learned them in a CEGEP in Quebec. Her grandma is so proud. But when you do know two languages, you can learn others. That is what we need to tell people. If you speak French. . . .


If we speak English — I have a young woman right here working with me whose first language is Spanish, but you would not know when you speak to her which one is her first language.


This is part of what we should be doing. If people know the two official languages, they should learn a third or a fourth: Mandarin, Cantonese, German, Spanish or Portuguese. This is a message that we could be spreading.

Thank you, gentlemen, for participating in our work today. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Senator Robichaud: I have one final brief question. The Aboriginal languages in the country are in serious decline, correct?

Mr. Corbeil: It depends on the language. More than 60 languages were reported in the 2011 census. Certain languages are, of course, growing. For instance, there are some Inuit languages that are growing and are clearly dynamic. However, many languages have been reported by a very small number of individuals, and a lot of people are in fact writing about the possible extinction of some of these languages under threat owing to an insufficient pool of speakers. Cree and Innu are languages that are quite dynamic, but there are some languages with a future that is not very rosy.

The Chair: Gentlemen, I would like to thank you very sincerely for appearing before our committee. I do not know whether or not you noticed that you are representatives from Statistics Canada and you have managed to engage the senators in a discussion that is not only interesting but also almost passionate. That does not happen very often with Statistics Canada.

Thank you very much and we are eager to receive the responses to our questions. If I understand correctly, a report will be released tomorrow and another one at the end of June?

Mr. Corbeil: It will be a short article about 10 pages long in the publication Insights on Canadian Society, which will come out tomorrow at 8:30 a.m., and on June 26, we will be officially releasing the census data I referred to earlier.

The Chair: Thank you, gentlemen. Honourable senators, I have two brief points to cover. First of all, the draft report on the linguistic obligations of CBC/Radio-Canada will not be completed by the end of June. We have yet to complete our public hearings and, once that is done, we will have to write the report. Consequently, the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure is recommending that we postpone the tabling of this report to the end of December 2013. If you are in agreement, I would like to propose a motion, which will then be submitted to the Senate.

Are you in agreement?

Some honourable senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Very well. Next week, do not forget that the committee meeting will begin at 4 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m. We will be hearing from a representative from a not-for-profit organization that helps immigrant francophone women in a minority setting. The next meeting should end around 5:15 p.m. Thank you very much, honourable senators. I am going to adjourn the meeting.

(The committee adjourned.)