20 November 2016
We had a very successful Christmas Afternoon last week - a slate of very interesting speakers was convened very efficiently by Beth Trudeau. All the speakers have been videoed & are available at our web-site: www.languagefairness.ca (box #6)
Since the re-vamping of our web-site, our visitors have increased 3-fold (currently sits at 42,750). So, please pay us a visit & if you have suggestions as to how to improve it, feel free to send us your suggestions.
To keep you updated on the language front, I've attached two articles on the Federal Government's Review of the Official Languages policy. Whether this is an attempt to increase the number of offices that are designated "bilingual" (the current number is 11,500), only time will tell. There are 250 offices that have been designated to lose their bilingual status if the rules & regulations are followed (if memory serves me right, these rules were set up by the previous Conservative govt. in the attempt to bring some measure of common sense to the extent by which bilingualism should trump merit in the hiring of public servants. I am open to be corrected on this.) The caveat of "where numbers warrant" was left totally undefined in the OLA & left to be interpreted by anyone in power.
It would be most interesting to find out where these 250 offices are located & we plan to find out.
Bob H. sent me the following message which is interesting:
"Many have complained the rules are out of date. Minority language groups have argued they are too narrow and don’t take into account the demographic realities. In some cases, a French- or English-speaking minority group in a community might have been growing but the rest of the population has grown faster."
The point in bold likely is the reason why the 250 offices are going to lose their bilingual status because this would mean that even though the minority group may have grown in numbers, as a percentage of the total they have dropped below the current threshold.
I bet that, if you had access to the numbers for these 250 offices, the vast majority would be in English dominated areas and that it is the French minority that is complaining - not the other way.
I'm prepared to bet that Bob is correct.
I've also attached below the two articles, a notice circulated by LIB. MP Andrew Leslie that he holding a consultation on November 24th (for details see below). If you are interested to attend, please do & send us your comments.
English or French? Federal government to review rules on when and where services are offered in both languages
Published on: November 17, 2016 | Last Updated: November 17, 2016 7:10 PM EST
President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Liberal government has launched a review to update the 25-year-old rules for public servants providing front-counter services in English and French.
Treasury Board president Scott Brison and Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly on Thursday announced a review of the regulations of the Official Languages Act, which govern communications and services offered in government offices to Canadians in English and French.
The review is aimed at coming up with a better calculation to determine the demand for minority language services, to explore new ways to use technology to provide those services, and to improve bilingual services for transportation.
“Francophone and anglophone minority communities across the country have been asking for these regulations to be improved in order to better reflect their realities,” Brison said in a statement.
“We must account for changing demographics, new technologies and lessons learned in the 25 years since these regulations were adopted to be able to serve Canadians better, and in the language of their choice.”
These regulations, which have not been updated since 1991, determine where services are provided and are considered key to helping French and English minorities thrive in their communities. Consultations will include MPs, senators, the public and minority language groups.
Meanwhile, the government is also imposing a moratorium on the 250 bilingual offices, which under current rules and regulations, were about to lose their bilingual status. They will continue to provide services in both languages until new regulations are in place.
The Official Languages Act lays out the rules for government institutions. Its regulations specify the circumstances or mandate of a federal offices that justifies providing bilingual services.
They also have a formula, based on census data, to calculate the size of official language communities and to determine whether there is enough demand to warrant bilingual services. That formula will now take into account 2011 census data.
Many have complained the rules are out of date. Minority language groups have argued they are too narrow and don’t take into account the demographic realities. In some cases, a French- or English-speaking minority group in a community might have been growing but the rest of the population has grown faster.
Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser raised that very concern in his last report, urging Treasury Board to assess the effectiveness of the policies and directives underpinning the rules for communications and services to the public.
Also, technology has had an impact. Many of the services now provided by the government are online, and the very definition and role of front-counter services for departments and agencies have changed.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Brison marching orders in his mandate letter to work with Joly to “ensure that all federal services are delivered in full compliance with the Official Languages Act.”
The review, which begins in the fall, will roll out in three phases. It will begin with public consultations and drafting of new regulations to be ready for Treasury Board and cabinet approval in summer 2018 and parliamentary approval by spring 2019.
Subject: Government kicks off official languages review | CTV News
Published Thursday, November 17, 2016 2:38PM EST
OTTAWA -- The federal government is announcing a review of Canada's official languages rules that could retain bilingualism in 250 offices set to transition to unilingual service.
The Official Languages Act was adopted in 1991, and hasn't been reviewed since. The regulations that go with the law established the circumstances when an office must provide bilingual service. That includes criteria, based on the most recent census, to determine whether there is a significant demand for service in both French and English.
There are 11,500 federal offices that now offer services in French and in English. If current rules stay in place, up to 250 of these offices across 25 federal departments and Crown corporations could go from bilingual to unilingual. The bulk of these are in New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.
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The government has placed a moratorium on these institutions going unilingual until the review is complete.
The review will take into account demographic and census changes and could also lead to more offices and institutions offering services in both official languages if they have significant bilingual populations - though the government hasn't set out yet what "significant" means. That will be addressed in the new rules, officials said Thursday.
The review process is underway, with the government planning to meet key stakeholders in early 2017, with a bill before Parliament in the fall of 2018. The government aims to have the new rules adopted in 2019, and implemented in 2020-2021.
With files from Omar Sachedina
The Government of Canada is conducting country-wide consultations on Canada's two official languages as it works toward developing a new federal action plan.
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, is holding a series of roundtables that are bringing Canadians together to share how they interact with, and are affected by, Canada's official languages. The roundtables include stakeholders from minority-language communities and those who work in the field of second-language learning, as well as public-, private-, and not for-profit-sector organizations that engage with and serve the broader population.
I encourage everyone, including those who have already participated in a roundtable, to add to the consultations by completing a digital online questionnaire available at canada.ca/official-languages-consultation.
I also invite you to attend an informal meeting on issues, priorities and vision for the future, based on some suggested questions. Your views will enrich the cross Canada consultations underway and will provide a valuable regional perspective.
The meeting will take place on November 24, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. at the Shenkman Arts Centre, Music Room in Orléans. Please confirm your attendance by clicking here, writing to Andrew.Leslie@parl.gc.ca or by calling 613-834-1800.
Thank you for your consideration.
Liberal Member of Parliament for Orléans
Hello Kim. This consultation was far from what anyone would expect if they read the invitation from Andrew Leslie. There were about 30 people in the room, mostly 40 and over, mostly white and all francophone except for 3 of us. I expected that the discussion would be in both languages. The MP Andrew Leslie opened the session and spoke almost entirely in French. Then he opened the session by allowing the microphone to be passed through the crowd for comments that would be recorded and sent to Melanie Joly the Heritage Minister.
After the first attendee spoke, I asked if I could get a brief summary in English. Mr. Leslie said "no" because it would take too long if every comment had to be translated. The rest of the evening was basically complaint after complaint about the lack of bilingualism or french services in Canada. The lady behind me complained about the poor facilities in the school her grandkids attend in - wait for it - British Columbia. Another man complained that when the national anthem was played in Winnipeg or Edmonton it was only in "English". It went on like this for an hour and a half.
I felt like I'd wasted my time but I'm glad I went because now I can see what we're up against close up. I have to run but I'd be glad to do a verbal review at the next CLF meeting.
All the best Kim. Keep up the good fight.
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