OTTAWA, August 24, 2021 – The federal election has been announced and political parties have started their campaigns to convince voters they are worthy of their votes. Across Canada, candidates will make promises and commitments, then participate in debates in their constituencies, as will the leaders during the upcoming televised debates. French for the Future wants to raise four main issues to fuel these debates and guide the work of future federal MPs.
Access to learning in French and learning of French must be protected. The network of Francophone schools across Canada has grown dramatically in recent years. Despite this, some communities are less well served and, due to a lack of resources or in the absence of some specialty programs, parents of French-speaking families choose to sign up their children for immersion programs. Yet, too often, children in all families fail to register for immersion because the waiting lists are endless. It is urgent that the political class address the underfunding of schools in Canada to address the lack of French-speaking staff, including the lack of French language teachers. This shortage harms both children living in minority francophone settings as well as those studying in both regular programs and immersion programs.
“Whenever we deliver one of our programs, participants tell us about their difficulties in learning, practising and maintaining their French. We also receive numerous testimonies from young people for whom learning French has been impactful, and is a factor in their personal, professional and social success.”Danielle Arcand, French for the Future’s President of the Board
All young people should be able to obtain quality French education at school. For this reason, we ask parties and candidates campaigning to commit to ensuring direct support to the school system at all levels of education, from early childhood to higher education, as well as professional training. To avoid another university feeling forced to abolish its French-language programs or a college electing to recruit English-speaking students abroad to ensure the sustainability of their own, education in French must be supported. The future of Canada’s francophonie depends on it.
French for the future also wishes for the modernization of the Official Languages Act and all the work it has involved since 2017 not to be abandoned. We presented numerous youth testimonies to the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages, offered recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages and tabled a brief on the proposed reform. Our organization believes that such modernization would be beneficial for all citizens and we expect that political parties will return to work so the bill may pass.
“French for the Future wants to contribute to the creation of a Canada where all young people value our francophone heritage, appreciate francophone cultures and strive to excel in French. In this sense, the bill is excellent news as it provides positive measures from the government to promote and support French language learning.”Emeline Leurent, French for the Future’s Executive Director
Finally, as an organization working with pan-Canadian youth, French for the Future wishes to stress the importance of being sensitive to the concerns of those who will live with the aftereffects of today’s decisions. It is imperative that all candidates, all elected officials and all members of any future government regularly seek young people’s opinion, and above all that they take it into due consideration.