Recap: PERT Appears at the Federal Standing Committee on Official Languages



On December 11, 2023, PERT was invited to submit a brief and provide testimony before the Federal Standing Committee on Official Languages. Our intervention focused on the economic development challenges in Québec’s English-speaking communities, particularly in employment and employability.

During our testimony, we emphasised the necessity for coordinated efforts between the federal and Quebec government to develop English-language employment services, skills training, and French-language learning programs tailored to the diverse needs of our community.

We also presented our latest research on the economic situation of Quebec’s English speakers. Our research indicates that despite being the largest Official Language Minority Community (OLMC) in Canada, representing 57.4% of the OLMC labour force, Québec’s English-speaking community economically underperforms compared to French speakers in Québec and all other OLMCs in Canada.

Using 2021 census data, we highlighted some important data points:

  1. Quebec’s English speakers experience an unemployment rate 4 percentage points higher than that of Québec’s French speakers (10.9% vs 6.9%). 
  2. English speakers earn a median employment income of $5,200 lower than French speakers. 

We also explained how these gaps in unemployment and income have been present and have been growing since at least 2001, effectively doubling between 2016 and 2021.

We addressed the myth of the wealthy Anglophone community by presenting data showcasing high levels of income disparity within Québec’s English-speaking community.  We also stressed that English speakers living in Quebec’s regions, visible minorities, immigrants, First Nations, and Inuit communities experience worse economic outcomes.

We also informed the committee that English speakers experience disproportionately high rates of poverty compared to French speakers (10% vs 5.8%). Despite representing only 14.9% of Québec’s population, the English-speaking community accounts for nearly one-quarter (23%) of the nearly 450,000 Québecers living in poverty.

We argued that employment, being an area of shared jurisdiction, necessitates collaborative and coordinated efforts across all government levels, and we called on the government to:

  • Recognize employment as a cornerstone of economic development and community vitality in the English-speaking community of Québec (ESCQ) by developing a strategy that prioritizes impact and accountability.
  • Improve the relationship between federal institutions and the ESCQ community sector concerning economic development.
  • Ensure coordination and cooperation between the federal government (particularly PCH and ESDC) and the provincial government in areas of shared jurisdiction.
  • Invest in research on the employment and economic development of the ESCQ.
  • Develop a pan-Canadian action plan to strengthen investments in free and accessible adult French-language training programs.

You can read our full brief here.