Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

December 11, 2007 16:28 ET

Statement From the Commissioner of Official Languages-Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 11, 2007) - The Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, responded to the Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities, published this morning by Statistics Canada.

"This portrait is an in-depth examination of the various factors that contribute to the vitality of the Canadian Francophonie and the Anglophone communities of Quebec. Mr. Bernard Lord should take it into account during his consultations on the next phase of the Action Plan for Official Languages.

The survey results are do not surprise me. The data presented by Statistics Canada confirms what I have seen on my visits to official-language communities across the country. Even though the challenges are great and vary in different parts of the country, Canadians are committed to living in the official language of their choice as much as possible. The communities have seen their situation improve over the last ten years and they are relatively optimistic about their future.

With regard to Francophone communities outside of Quebec, 42% of survey respondents feel that the vitality of their local community is strong or very strong, while only 30% believe it is weak. A total of 78% of Francophones stated that it is "important" or "very important" for them to be able to use French in their daily life. The federal government must therefore work with the provinces, the territories, the municipalities and the communities themselves to support this momentum, more specifically by improving access to health care and early childhood education in French.

Access to education in one's own language is a very important right. Nevertheless, there are practical barriers that prevent this right from being exercised, for example, the long distances that must be travelled to get to school or the limited number of programs that are offered. What is more, among Francophone parents who have enrolled their children in the English-language school system, 42% would prefer they attend a French-language school if there was one nearby. The elementary and secondary school systems of the Francophonie must therefore continue to be strengthened so they can welcome all Francophones who wish to attend them, including newcomers.

The situation of the Anglophone community in Quebec is generally good, due in part to the institutions that it has established over the years. However, the differences between the Montreal region and the rest of the province are striking. While two out of three Anglophones say they are able to live in English in Montreal, only one out of 10 are able to do so in the Quebec City region, for example.

Anglophones in Quebec remain attached to the English language and as a general rule are able to live a large part of their lives in this language. Yet 40% of Anglophone adults nevertheless identify themselves as members of both the Anglophone and the Francophone communities. This data confirms that the increasing bilingualism of this community is the sign of a desire to continue participating in all aspects of a Quebec society whose predominant language is French."

Contact Information

  • Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
    Robin Cantin
    Manager, Media Relations
    Cellular: 613-324-0999 or Toll free: 1-877-996-6368