Official languages: the action plan provides $ 500 million over five years

Langues officielles: le plan d'action prévoit 500 millions $ sur cinq ans

OTTAWA — The action plan on official languages of the Trudeau government injects $ 500 million over five years. About two-thirds of this amount will go directly into the pocket of the organizations in the communities of minority language.

This money is in addition to $ 2.2 billion over five years that they are already receiving a permanent basis, bringing the total amount to $2.7 billion.

“So this is the largest investment in official languages in our history,” said the minister of canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly on Wednesday at a press conference in the gymnasium of the school Mauril Belanger in Ottawa which brought together dozens of stakeholders in the francophone milieu.

It was unveiled in the company of the prime minister Justin Trudeau its action plan 2018-2023 which must put an end to 10 years of stagnation in funding for minority-language communities. The Trudeau government wants to mark the return in force of the federal as a defender of the official languages.

“This is not a secret that the French outside of Quebec has taken a step back in the last few years,” said Mr. Trudeau.

“For almost 10 years, the conservative government has chosen to under-invest in programs, sending a clear signal that the continuation of the bilingual character of our country was simply not a priority for them,” he added.

The plan 53 pages gives in detail the amounts which will be paid for the maintenance of the official languages. It consists of three pillars, namely strengthening communities, better access to French-language services and the promotion of bilingualism. It provides, in particular, are important for the early childhood and francophone immigration in minority communities, two measures that aim to ensure the sustainability of communities.

The last federal budget provided for a budget of $ 400 million starting next year and $ 88.4 million annually thereafter. The Federation of francophone and acadian communities (FCFA) had, instead, asked 575 million $.

“It’s been so long that it has not been new investment in programs for the communities and, yes, I consider it history,” commented the president of the FCFA, Jean Johnson, while stating that it would remain vigilant to ensure that the money is actually invested in the communities.

The action plan on official languages will lay the foundation of a first national strategy on francophone immigration in minority areas, the details of which will be unveiled at a later date. Ottawa wants to increase to 4.4 %, the proportion of francophone immigrants outside of Quebec by 2023. It provides $ 40.8 million over five years to achieve this target and ensure that newcomers can obtain the integration services they need in French.

It will also create more child care spaces in francophones outside of Québec, injecting $ 20 million over five years.

The money directly to the communities

A large part of the money provided will go directly to the communities. The CFA complained that francophone organizations were not given in the past that is $ 0.25 for each dollar allocated, the remainder being used to fund the bureaucracy at the federal and provincial levels. The core funding of the agencies increases by $ 70 million over five years and will reach the total amount of $320 million.

“We are the choices we made, is that the majority of the investments go directly to the communities, the vast majority, rather than to the provincial and federal governments,” assured Ms. Joly in an interview with The canadian Press.

French-language education is also an important part of the action plan. It provides $ 31.3 million for the recruitment of teachers of French as a mother tongue and $ 149 million per year for the financing of education in a minority setting.

With its $ 10 million over five years for community-based media, the plan is not doing enough to save the media in francophone minority communities, at risk of closing, according to ndp mp François Choquette.

“We must immediately invest, take a $ 2 million emergency fund and it is not just in the action plan, in six months, in a year, that is all that it is necessary that the minister releases it”, has he hammered.

The conservative mp Alupa Clarke, for his part, wondered whether transparency will actually be at the appointment when the implementation of the action plan on official languages.

“It is necessary to have a strategic plan of accountability, fine-tuned, said Mr Clarke. Often the provinces are going to use the money for other priorities.”

Bilingualism

The Trudeau government hoped that English-speaking people outside Quebec will be more likely to speak French. It is given a goal of increasing their rate of bilingualism from 6.8% to 9 % by 2036.

To achieve this, it will invest $ 31.3 million over four years for the hiring of teachers of French second language and immersion schools. The government also provides for the creation of a free mobile app for learning French and English.

An amount of $ 2.5 million over five years is also expected to help Ottawa, the canadian capital, to become bilingual. A project of law to formalise this status had been adopted by the legislature of ontario in December.

The English-speaking communities of Quebec also have their share of the cake, particularly those outside of Montreal. The government will create a new fund of $ 5.3 million over five years, which will be designed and which will be used to fund the services they need. Ottawa intends to work in collaboration with the Secretariat for the relations with English-speaking Quebecers created by the government Couillard.

These investments have propelled the mp bloquiste Mario Beaulieu and his former colleague, today the parliamentary Group in quebec, Rhéal Fortin.

“Treat the anglophones in Quebec on an equal footing with the francophone and acadian communities, it is an aberration because in Quebec the English-speaking institutions are already surfinancées, said Mario Beaulieu. […] It is the French who are threatened and not English.”

“We don’t want to see that there is a difference between an anglophone in Quebec and francophone in the West or in the Maritimes, whereas in reality it is all the difference in the world,” said Rhéal Fortin.

The minister Mélanie Joly defended of wanting to make Quebec bilingual. “What Quebecers should celebrate, it is not only that it supports minority communities in Quebec, but also across the country because essentially, when one has a francophone strong in Canada, it is also essential to recognize the importance of Quebec as the engine of the francophonie,” she said at a press conference, triggering a new round of applause of the interest groups.

The action plan on official languages, following a series of consultations that have taken place in 2016 in 22 cities across the country.

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