Every once in a while we hear of someone not getting a job, not applying for a job or not being promoted for one, and sometimes a stumbling block is education, skills, demeanor or even language being the issue . Unless you review want ads consistently, you may have no clue on how pervasive English and French bilingualism is evolving or about the hundreds of government-funded Francophone associations directing this. From the money devoted by the several levels of government to promote & enforce bilingual signs in Ontario & New Brunswick, one must think there is a real need for such encroachment on our freedom. Whose cause are we serving?
Many of us have grown up with, are friends with, work with or are French speakers and for the most part, we all get along well. That is until governments get involved that cause conflict between neighbours. Currently the Ontario French Language Services Commissioner, François Boileau, has made a statement that the 522,000 English-only speakers in Ottawa should be aware of. You may know that Ontario has over 200 government entities (hospitals, clinics, daycares, schools) that are “designated” under the Ontario French Language Services Act to provide an increased level of French. Of course this means more jobs for “bilinguals” and less for either English or French only. However, 97.1% of Ontario can speak English and only a very small number are bilingual so we know who is affected more.
To get back to the Commissioner’s comment which is, “A designated agency or program provides its supplier with legal immunity that protects it from changes in the economic and political climate.” You may want to reread that. Of course, there is no mandated English-only government agency or entity, but if there were, they could be shut down in seconds if we went bankrupt like Detroit or had a change in government. The French groups, however, would survive and flourish during changes in the economic and political climate making sure French speakers would get service first before any other needs are met.
Does that sound like the Canadian ideal of fairness to you? Every taxpayer being forced to pay, while only a few reap benefits that all cannot receive, is just not fair! This is not a social safety net that we are fortunate to be able to provide in case of need, but beyond generous accommodation for the few who need it. According to Statistics Canada, this is a promotion for 11% of Ontario who are bilingual, and which can remove job possibilities for 0.3 % French-only and 86.3% English-only speakers. This lack of fairness would be somewhat acceptable if there were any unbiased needs assessments completed showing it was needed. Up to this point in time, we have not had any such study made and all we see are the government paying for dozens of language coordinators, entire departments devoted to increasing pro-French policies, bylaws and acts are added and of course, we see the bill getting larger at every level.
This continues to be a very controversial topic of public administration and should be made a political concern. As the expense of instituting the policy of Official Bilingual gets larger every year, don’t we owe it to our children and grand-children to have a public discussion about what we truly need and can afford without emotion getting in the way?
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