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June 20th 2018

Annual Report 2017-2018

Fredericton, June 20, 2018 – The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont, recommends establishing an Official Languages Secretariat to support the Premier in carrying out his primary responsibility, the administration of the Official Languages Act (OLA), as provided for in section 2 of this Act.

Commissioner d’Entremont made this recommendation following an investigation into the government’s Plan on Official Languages. The investigation was launched after the Premier submitted his first evaluation report on the Plan in March 2017. The Office of the Commissioner concluded that the Plan, which must ensure compliance with the OLA, was not achieving the objectives established by the Act.

“The government plan is yielding very few concrete results,” Katherine d’Entremont said. “Our investigation revealed a sizeable obstacle to implementing the Plan: the lack of an adequate structure and adequate resources to assist the Premier in the administration of the Act, including the Plan on Official Languages. On the one hand, there is no official languages department or secretariat, and therefore no deputy minister whose primary responsibility is official languages. Yet there are deputy minister or assistant deputy minister positions for specific areas such as Corporate Communications, Special Initiatives, and Women's Equality. On the other hand, there are lower-level public servants in charge of various aspects of official languages in three different departments: Executive Council Office, Treasury Board, and Service New Brunswick. It is therefore not surprising that the government is having difficulty implementing the Plan and complying with the OLA.”

In its report, the Office of the Commissioner highlights that the government is indeed able to equip itself with structures and methods to achieve specific objectives. The Office of the Commissioner gives the example of the Office of Strategy Management, a component of the Executive Council Office, which supports the work of a vast network of public servants, known as champions, who work on achieving strategic government objectives.

“The size and scope of the strategic management measures used by the government strongly contrast with the weaker measures used to implement the government’s Plan on Official Languages and ensure compliance with the OLA,” the Commissioner added. “Yet New Brunswick’s language obligations are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution, which is not the case for management objectives. New Brunswick must adopt an appropriate structure to comply with the OLA and ensure the implementation of the Plan on Official Languages.”

Update on the Vitality of Official Languages

The 2017-2018 Annual Report of the Office of the Commissioner also presents the highlights of a study on the vitality of French and English in New Brunswick, prepared for the Office of the Commissioner by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities (CIRLM). Some worrying trends for the French language emerge from this study.

• The percentage of New Brunswickers whose mother tongue is French reached a low of 31.9% in 2016, compared to 33.8% in 1971, while the percentage of people whose mother tongue is English has remained stable at approximately 65% of the population since 1971.
• The unequal dynamic between the minority language and the majority language favours the anglicization of some Francophones. For example, 6.6% of Francophones no longer spoke their mother tongue regularly at home in 2016, compared to only 0.7% of Anglophones. The anglicization of Francophones, which was 5.8 % in 2006, has therefore increased over the last 10 years.
• Less than half (46.5%) of public servants who lived in French also spoke it most often at work in 2016. By comparison, nearly all public servants (95%) who lived in English also spoke it most often at work in 2016.
• In 2016, about one in 10 recent immigrants (11.4%) had French as their first official language spoken, while 7 out of 10 (72.0%) had English as their first official language spoken.

The highlights also include an encouraging sign for the French language. Francophones in mixed couples, particularly mothers, are increasingly passing on French to their children. It is now more than half (52.8%) of children with Francophone mothers in mixed couples who have French as their mother tongue, up from 43.8% in 2001.

“The future vitality of the French language in New Brunswick is far from assured,” continued Commissioner d’Entremont. “The CIRLM study shows us that the future of the language depends on many interconnected factors. Effective and coordinated action must be taken on all of these vitality factors to ensure the future of the French language in New Brunswick.”

Complaints and Investigations

The Office of the Commissioner received 79 admissible complaints in fiscal year 2017-2018. Of this number, 64 complaints concerned services in French, and 15 were about services in English. Furthermore, two investigations were launched on the Commissioner’s own initiative: one on the government’s Plan on Official Languages (completed); the other on the administration of the OLA in nursing homes in the province (underway).

Final Annual Report by Commissioner d’Entremont

Katherine d’Entremont presented her fifth and final annual report. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the OLA, Commissioner d’Entremont states that New Brunswick has reached a crossroads.

“Complying with the OLA, ensuring the vitality of the French language, promoting the use of both official languages at work, maintaining the demographic weight of the two official linguistic communities, taking advantage of our bilingualism, these are all objectives that must be achieved in the nation’s only officially bilingual province. For this to happen, New Brunswick must firmly commit to the pursuit of progress. We first need strong leadership. There then needs to be a coordinated strategy, because the challenges are too big and too intrinsically linked for a decentralized approach. Lastly, appropriate human and financial resources are required. New Brunswick can, and must take action to achieve this great societal project: the equality of our two official languages and communities.’’ 

For more information:
Hugues Beaulieu
Executive Director
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506 444-4229

2017-2018 Annual Report
Backgrounder

Recommendations of the Commissioner of Official Languages following her investigation of the Plan on Official Languages

Having completed this investigation, the Commissioner makes the following recommendations:

That an Official Languages Secretariat be established. It must:

• be placed directly under the authority of the Clerk of the Executive Council and Head of the Civil Service;
• be headed by someone with Deputy Minister status; and
• have an appropriate budget and staff with respect to its responsibilities of supporting the Premier in his primary responsibility of administering the Official Languages Act.

That the Official Languages Secretariat have the following responsibilities:

• general supervision of the administration of the OLA;
• coordination of the mandatory review process of the OLA;
• development, review, supervision, and evaluation of the Official Languages Implementation Plan;
• provision of advice to all parts of the Public Service on the application of the OLA;
• development and monitoring of the application of the Language of Work Policy and Language of Service Policy;
• compilation and publication of statistical data to measure the progress towards the equality of use of English and French within the different Parts of the Public Service; and
• the preparation of an annual report on the state of official languages in New Brunswick.

Highlights of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities study

EVOLUTION OF THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: STABILITY OF ENGLISH,
BUT A SLOW DECLINE OF FRENCH

• With regard to the evolution of the relative share of the official languages, there is generally a stabilization of the English language, but a slow decline of the French language.
• We continue to witness the slow decline in the relative weight of the French-language community. The percentage of New Brunswickers whose mother tongue is French reached a low of 31.9% in 2016, compared to 33.8% in 1971, while the percentage of people whose mother tongue is English has remained stable at approximately 65% of the population since 1971.
• There is a decline in the use of French at home, while the use of English is increasing. The use of French most often at home has decreased by almost 3 percentage points since 1981 to 28.6%, while the use of English most often has increased by two percentage points to 69.5%.
• The percentage of people who regularly use a second language at home has been increasing, regardless of language, since at least 2001.
• Immigration and the anglicization of immigrants and their children have disproportionately benefited the English-language community. The anglicization of some Francophones has also favoured the preservation of English.

THE LANGUAGES USED AT HOME AND THEIR TRANSMISSION:
ANGLICIZATION ON THE RISE, BUT SOME ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR FRENCH

A slight decline in the retention of French at home

• Fewer than 9 in 10 Francophones (86.8%) spoke their mother tongue most often at home compared to almost all Anglophones (98.5%).
• The unequal dynamic between the minority language and the majority language favours the anglicization of some Francophones. For example, 6.6% of Francophones no longer spoke their mother tongue regularly at home in 2016, compared to only 0.7% of Anglophones. The anglicization of Francophones, which was 5.8 % in 2006, has therefore increased over the last 10 years.
• The retention of French decreases with age and over time, so that the minority language slowly takes a back seat for some Francophones, who use it only regularly instead of speaking it most often at home. French took a back seat at home for 8.3% of Francophones aged 25 to 44 in 2016.

The transmission of languages in mixed couples: half of Francophone mothers pass on French

• Mixed-couple parents pass on much less French than those with the same mother tongue. Only 4 out of 10 children from mixed couples in which only one spouse was Francophone had French as their mother tongue in 2016.
• Increasingly, Francophones in mixed couples, particularly mothers, are passing on French to their children. It is now more than half (52.8%) of children with Francophone mothers in mixed couples who have French as their mother tongue, up from 43.8% in 2001. Therefore, there is a noticeable increase in the transmission of French in mixed couples, especially those where the mother is Francophone, which indicates an improvement in the status of the minority language over time. However, the gap persists compared to English, and the transmission dynamics are still unequal between the province’s official languages.

THE VITALITY OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGES:
THE GAP BETWEEN ENGLISH AND FRENCH CONTINUES TO WIDEN

• There were 7% more people who spoke English most often at home in 2016 than there were English mother-tongue speakers in the province. However, there were 11% fewer people who spoke French most often at home than people whose mother tongue was French.
• There were 18% more people who spoke English at least regularly at home than people whose mother tongue was English in the province in 2016. In comparison, there were only 2% more people who spoke French at least regularly at home than there were people whose mother tongue was French.
• Both indices show that the vitality of both official languages remains uneven, to the advantage of English. The vitality gap between the two official languages continues to widen. Over a period of 35 years, the vitality gap between French and English mainly spoken at home has increased from 11 to 18 points.

INDIVIDUAL BILINGUALISM HAS STAGNATED FOR MORE THAN A DECADE

• Nearly 250,000 people declared themselves bilingual (English-French) in New Brunswick in 2016, one-third (33.9%) of the province's population.
• New Brunswick had the lowest growth in the number of bilingual persons (1.7%) of all Canadian provinces between 2011 and 2016, with a national average of 7.3% over the same period. This is likely a consequence of the slight decrease in the province's population, the decline in access to immersion programs since 2008, and the cyclical inter-provincial migrations, which are more likely to affect bilingual individuals in the province at the beginning and end of their careers during an economic slowdown like the one that followed the 2008-2009 recession. Further research would be required to confirm this.
• The bilingualism rate has been stagnating at 33% in New Brunswick for about 15 years. Encouragingly, we note a slight increase (+0.7 percentage point) in the bilingualism rate between 2011 and 2016.
• Francophones accounted for two-thirds (66.7%) of bilingual New Brunswickers in 2016, while Anglophones accounted for almost one-third (29.0%).
• The past increase in bilingualism among Anglophones is largely attributable to the fact that younger generations born after the mid-1960s had access to immersion programs. Immersion programs have had a lasting effect on the bilingualism of the English-language community and, consequently, on that of New Brunswick as a whole.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES IN THE WORKPLACE

Official languages in the New Brunswick job market

• The use of English in the New Brunswick workplace has been steadily increasing since 2001 (+1.3 percentage points), while the use of French has slightly decreased (-0.3) compared to 2001. In 2016, 89.0% of New Brunswickers spoke English at least regularly at work, compared to 36.7% who spoke French.
• The use of official languages varies by economic sector. The use of French most often was significantly higher in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (37.1%), manufacturing (33.0%), educational services (31.6%) and health care and social assistance (28.3%).
• In contrast, the main use of English was higher in the public service (90.5%), real estate (85.8%) and administrative (83.8%) sectors, wholesaling (83.8%), transportation and warehousing (83.2%), information and cultural industries (80.7%) and manufacturing subsectors of paper (83.7%), oil and gas extraction (96.7%) and its support activities (93.8%), the latter two subsectors including workers with circular migrations in the West.
• Bilingualism at work was higher in the public service (41.2%), finance and insurance (34.4%) and retail (27.5%) sectors, as well as in the subsectors of air transportation (42.2%) and rail (38.7%), heritage institutions (42.6%), hospitals (41.9%) and outpatient care services (33.9%).

• To what extent do New Brunswickers who live most often in French at home also work most often in the minority language? Almost 70% of New Brunswick Francophones (69.4%) who spoke French most often at home also spoke it most often at work in 2016.

Increasing bilingualism in the public sector

• The use of French in the various levels of the public sector has increased significantly thanks to the rise of bilingualism among public servants. Bilingualism at work among public sector employees in the province went from 35.5% in 2001 to 41.2% in 2016.
• The use of official languages varies by level of government and occupation. The higher the level of government, the more employees spoke mainly English, to the detriment of French. This hierarchical linguistic division is also found among the occupations within the public service.
• To what extent do New Brunswick public servants who live primarily in French at home also work most often in the minority language? Less than half (46.5%) of public servants who lived in French also spoke it most often at work in 2016 (percentages being 72.7% for municipal public servants, 53.8% for provincial ones and only 35.6% for federal public servants). Many had to work most often in the majority language before they could speak the language of their choice. By comparison, nearly all public servants (95%) who lived in English also spoke it most often at work in 2016, (percentages being 96.8% for municipal public servants, 94.8% for provincial ones and 94.4% for federal public servants).

IMMIGRATION AND OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

Immigration in Atlantic Canada and in New Brunswick

• More and more immigrants are settling in the Atlantic Provinces and New Brunswick, although immigration rates are among the lowest in Canada. In New Brunswick, the recent surge in immigration helped push the provincial immigration rate up from 3.1% in 2001 to 4.6% in 2016.

An increase in the number of Francophone immigrants, despite stagnation in the number of newcomers

• In 2016, immigration rates in the two official language communities were 5.5% for the Anglophone majority, but only 2% for the Francophone minority.
• Close to 1 in 10 (9.6%) immigrants living in New Brunswick in 2016 had French as their mother tongue, compared to 4 in 10 (41.6%) whose mother tongue was English. The proportion of immigrants whose mother tongue is French has been stable since 2001, thanks to a growth in Francophone populations that has been proportional to the growth of the province's total immigrant population. The proportion of immigrants whose mother tongue was English, however, declined, reaching 41.6% in 2016, compared to 60.6% in 2001, due to the increase in the number of non-official language immigrants.
• There was a significant increase (+ 29%) in the number of immigrants whose mother tongue was French (+730), going from 2,530 in 2011 to 3,260 in 2016. This net increase in the balance of immigrants whose mother tongue is French in the province could be explained by the arrival of new Francophone immigrants directly from abroad, but also from other provinces, and above all by a better retention of Francophone immigrants already settled in the province.
• In 2016, there was only a slight increase in the number of Francophone immigrants recently arriving from abroad. These recent immigrants whose mother tongue is French, however, represented more than a quarter (27.5%) of recent immigrants whose mother tongue was official in the province, a percentage that, for the first time, is approaching the demographic weight of the Francophone community in New Brunswick.

Integration of immigrants into the official language communities

• The vast majority (94.7%) of New Brunswick residents who were born abroad could conduct a conversation in English or French in 2016. Only 5.4% of immigrants reported that they did not know one of the province's official languages. In fact, in 2016, 91.8% of the province's foreign-born population knew English, compared to only 24.8% who knew French.
• The average age of immigrants is lower than the average provincial age, which helps stabilize the youth population despite the aging of the population. For example, immigrants make up only 2% of Francophones in New Brunswick, but 6.7% of French-mother-tongue children in the province are children of immigrants. By comparison, Anglophone immigrants represent 5.5% of Anglophones, but almost 10% (9.6%) of Anglophone children in New Brunswick are of immigrant origin.
• When publishing the 2016 Census data, Statistics Canada noted that outside of Quebec, immigrants in New Brunswick live the most in French, although there are 5 times more immigrants who speak English (62.3%) most often at home, with only 12.0% who speak French most often at home.
• In 2016, about 1 in 10 recent immigrants (11.4%) had French as their first official language spoken, while 7 out of 10 (72.0%) had English as their first official language spoken.