The Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future is the Government of Canada's official languages strategy for the period from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2023. It outlines the Government of Canada's vision for supporting official-language minority communities and promoting our two official languages. This plan is inspired by public feedback provided during cross-Canada consultations between June and December 2016. BCATML's Trish Kolber (French Language Representative) and Rome Lavrencic (President) co-authored a BCATML Report that was presented to the Senate Committee on Official Languages on October 5, 2016 in Vancouver, BC.
The Action Plan reveals the Government of Canada's goal to raise the national bilingualism rate of 17.9% to 20% by 2036. The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau stated that the Action Plan "reflects our government's broad vision of a strong Canadian Francophonie, of Quebec's vibrant English-speaking communities and a bilingualism that encourages exchange and recognizes our English and French linguistic heritage." The Action Plan builds upon the legacy of the Official Languages Act (1969) introduced by former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who said: "We believe in two official languages and in a pluralist society not merely as a political necessity but as an enrichment."
Among the $499 million, over $100 million of new funding will be invested in promoting a bilingual Canada and in teaching and learning French and English as second languages. Some of these investments will go to address the current shortage of French as a Second Language teachers, inciting youth to pursue post-secondary education in French, as well as the creation and enhancement of other educational-related services shown in the table below.
- $16.5 million over five years to create and maintain a free mobile application for Canadians to learn and retain English and French as second languages. The application will be developed primarily for adult learners, including new Canadians, but may also be useful to young Canadians. The application will feature Canadian content and Canadian ways of speaking.
- $21 million over five years in the Explore program. Explore is a five-week, intensive language-immersion program that gives more than 7,000 young Canadians a year the opportunity to learn their second official language while discovering their country. More than 300,000 young Canadians have taken part in this program since its launch in 1971.
- $17.5 million over five years in the Odyssey language monitor program. Odyssey is an official-language monitor program that gives 300 university-aged Canadians every year the opportunity to spend a school year working as a language monitor in a classroom of second-language teachers. The program encourages young Canadians to become French-language teachers.
- $12.6 million over four years to create bursaries for post-secondary education in French as a second language. Starting in 2019-2020, Canadian Heritage will create 1,000 bursaries of $3,000 per year to encourage English-speaking students to take French-language programs in university or college in order to help them in their efforts to learn, use, and improve their French-language skills; and to expand their understanding of Francophone culture.
- $31.29 million over four years, starting in 2019-2020, towards strategies to recruit more immersion and French as a second language teachers. A common roadblock to French second-language programming by provinces and territories is the lack of qualified French teachers. Canadian Heritage will engage possible partners like provinces, territories, and education stakeholders to develop an approach to allocate these funds.
- $1.2 million for 2018-2019 to create 280 new green jobs through Young Canada Works in Both Official Languages at Canadian Heritage. This will help young people learn more about the environment, and will contribute to economic growth in sectors related to the environment.
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