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Statement by the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada in response to the release of the 2021 Census data on language

GATINEAU, QC, Aug. 17, 2022 /CNW/ - Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge issued the following statement today in response to Statistics Canada's release of the 2021 Census data on language:

"The 2021 Census figures are clear and reflect a highly dynamic social and demographic context for official languages across the country. Today's data demonstrates the need to modernize the Official Languages Act to make it stronger, more relevant and more dynamic. The future of Canada's official language minority communities depends on it. These communities are important models of diversity and are essential to the social, cultural and economic vitality of our country.

"I am happy to see that our linguistic diversity is growing and that there are more French speakers in Canada today than ever before. French is still the second most spoken language by far in Canada, including outside of Quebec. However, the decline in the demographic weight of French-speaking Canadians relative to that of English speakers continues to be a major concern.

"Francophone immigration is an essential factor in ensuring the future of our French-speaking minority communities. Today, we see that the missed targets for Francophone immigration over the past decade are contributing to a demographic erosion that, over time, risks jeopardizing front-line services such as government service counters, health and education in our official language minority communities.

"The situation of Quebec's English-speaking communities in a society that functions primarily in French continues to evolve and requires nuanced analysis. Data on topics such as the high rate of bilingualism among English-speaking Quebecers are indicative of their commitment to Quebec society.

"The Census is a fundamental tool for government decision making. It helps us to get an overall picture of the social and demographic situation, to gauge the evolution of the population, and to effectively identify needs in terms of service delivery in both official languages and education in the official language of the linguistic minority.

"The federal government needs to examine the language data from the 2021 Census so that it can develop its policies and programs to protect the vitality of official language minority communities across the country. It also needs to put strong measures in place to promote French both within and outside of Quebec and to increase the level of bilingualism in Canada so that all Canadians will benefit."

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SOURCE Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

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