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PRIME MINISTER CHRÉTIEN AND MINISTERS DION
AND ROBILLARD RELEASE THE ACTION PLAN FOR OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

 

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, March 12, 2003 – The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable  Jean Chrétien, the President of the Privy Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, and the President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Lucienne Robillard, today released the Government’s Action Plan for official languages. This Action Plan will provide funding of $751 million over five years for its implementation.

"Our linguistic duality, reflecting our values of respect and pluralism, means better access to markets and more jobs and greater mobility for workers. The Action Plan for Official Languages strives to maximize these advantages for all Canadians," the Prime Minister stated.

Minister Dion emphasized that "the Government of Canada has developed this Action Plan after listening to Canadians and talking with students, parents, educators, health professionals, community members and leaders, its provincial and territorial counterparts, experts and academics, Members of Parliament, Senators and the Commissioner of Official Languages, Ms. Dyane Adam. Bolstered by those consultations, a team of ministers designed the plan. And we will implement it as a team as well, together with [...] all Canadians."

The Action Plan is the result of two years of intensive consultations. The Plan includes an accountability and coordination framework, and three main targets: education, community development, and the federal public service.

The accountability framework clarifies and assigns the responsibilities of departments and agencies, and enhances their coordination. It will serve as an ongoing reminder to ministers and public servants of their responsibility to make linguistic duality a priority.

In the education sector, one objective is to increase, within ten years, the proportion of eligible students enrolled in French schools outside Quebec, from 68% today to 80%. Another is to double the proportion of young Canadians who know the other official language, from 24% to 50% within ten years. The Government will invest $381.5 million in additional funding over five years, with the lion’s share going to a new fund for Anglophone or Francophone minority-language education, which will receive $209 million. Another new fund, for second-language instruction, will receive $137 million.

The Government will invest $269.3 million over five years for community development, including the following measures:

  • $22 million to support early childhood development.
  • A $119 million investment in the field of health, including $75  million for training, $30 million for primary health care and $14  million for networking geared to facilitating exchanges between health care professionals.
  • In other sectors: $44.4 million for economic development, $43 million for access to justice, and $9  million for immigrant integration.

In the next five years, the Government will invest $64.6 million through various measures to make the public service exemplary with regard to official languages. "The public service must reflect Canada’s population, our identity and our values as a country. We therefore need to enhance the bilingual capacity of the public service, notably by offering better access to language courses early on in the career path," said Madame Robillard.

In addition, the Government plans to play a role as a catalyst in the economic development of the language industries, helping to strengthen ties between these industries and increase their visibility.

In light of the progress made since April 2001, and in keeping with the commitment made in the Throne Speech and reiterated in the Budget of February 18  to strengthen Canada’s linguistic duality, Prime Minister Chrétien announced that Minister Dion will continue to act as Minister responsible for official languages. Mr. Dion will be responsible for overall coordination of the official languages file, working with his Cabinet colleagues to ensure that the Government of Canada has the means to act effectively and in a concerted manner. In particular, he will also hold consultations with different communities and coordinate implementation of the Action Plan.

"Thirty years after the adoption of the Official Languages Act, I am pleased to announce that the Government is giving new momentum to our country’s linguistic duality, as called for by Canadians," the Prime Minister stated.

Minister  Dion concluded by emphasizing that the implementation of the Action Plan depends more on the will of all Canadians to ensure its success than on the $751  million that will be allocated to it: "Canadians also possess this team spirit, especially our young people, who want to benefit fully from their country’s dual linguistic heritage. The Government of Canada is responding to Canadians’ demands through this Action Plan. It is inviting them to write the next act of the fascinating adventure of our bilingual country."

 

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For information :

André Lamarre
Senior Advisor
Telephone: (613) 943-1838
Fax: (613) 943-5553

 


THE ACTION PLAN FOR OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
Backgrounder

 

The five-year Action Plan for Official Languages includes an accountability and coordination framework and investments totalling over $750 million in the sectors of education, minority official-language community development, and the federal public service.

Why an Action Plan?

Rooted in our past, linguistic duality has led us to the Canada of today, a country with a strong economy, a culture of respect, an effective federation, a multicultural society open to the world.

  • History assigns the Government the duty to help Canadians access the dual heritage our two official languages represent.

Linguistic duality is an asset for the Canada of tomorrow.

  • It is part of a prosperous Canada, in a world of growing trade where the capacity to communicate in more than one language is increasingly valued.
The origin of the Action Plan

Several milestones:

  • the Throne Speeches of January 2001 and September 2002:
  • the appointment of the President of the Privy Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs as Minister responsible for official languages;
  • the concerted efforts of ministers with statutory responsibilities for official languages;
  • consultations with stakeholders, including community leaders, parents and teachers, representatives of the provinces and territories, parliamentarians, experts and academics, and the Commissioner of Official Languages;
  • the 2003 Budget: new funding for official languages.
What is in the Action Plan?

The Plan reflects the results of those consultations and is comprised of an accountability and coordination framework and initiatives in three priority areas: education, community development, and the public service. It also includes assistance to the language industries to alleviate the shortage of professionals in that area.

ACCOUNTABILITY AND COORDINATION FRAMEWORK: The framework is about how things are done. By adopting an accountability and coordination framework, the Government wants to clarify and assign responsibilities of departments and agencies so that linguistic duality remains central to its priorities. It also aims to enhance horizontal coordination in order to ensure coherent official languages policies and programs.

EDUCATION: The Action Plan will strengthen the Government of Canada's capacity to act in two crucial areas for official languages policy: minority language education, to help implement the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section 23), and second-language instruction, and to double by 2013 the proportion of young Canadians who know the other official language, as provided for in Canada's Innovation Strategy. The Government plans to increase its support outside the classroom by enhancing official language monitor programs and increasing summer language bursaries.

DEVELOPMENT OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGE COMMUNITIES IN MINORITY SITUATIONS: Strong communities, able to attract new members are an asset to Canada. To better equip these communities and enable them to continue to contribute to Canada's development, the Action Plan provides for tangible measures in the areas of early childhood development, health, justice, immigration and economic development. To this end, the government will work in partnership with the provinces and territories.

EXEMPLARY FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVICE: The federal government cannot play a leadership role unless it leads by example. The Action Plan will help linguistic duality regain its place at the core of the practices of federal institutions, rooted in fundamental values. Our objectives include improvements in the delivery of federal services in both official languages, the equitable participation of English-and French-speaking Canadians in the federal government, and the use of both languages in the workplace.

The Action Plan in numbers:

Over $750 million in investments, including $381.5 million for education, $269.3 million for community development and $64.6 million for the public service (see Annex for more details).

The Action Plan: teamwork

A number of ministers helped to develop the Plan: the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Sheila Copps; the President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Lucienne Robillard; the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Martin Cauchon; the Minister of Health, the Honourable Anne McLellan; the Minister of Human Resources Development, the Honourable Jane Stewart; the Minister of Industry, the Honourable Allan Rock; the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Denis Coderre; and the President of the Privy Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Stéphane Dion.