December 12, 1996 (35th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

Warren Allmand

Liberal

Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on November 28 I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development a question. I asked if in his discussions with the provinces regarding the transfer of labour market training from the federal to the provincial governments, he had taken steps to ensure that the principles of the Official Languages Act will continue to apply. In other words, will francophones outside Quebec continue to get training in French and anglophones in Quebec to get their training in English. There has been great concern over this matter because there were too many cases in the past when provincial governments denied services to their language minorities.
Recently, the Quebec government had bilingual signs removed from the Sherbrooke hospital and in the Ontario legislature, a government member insulted an opposition member for speaking French.
For matters coming under the federal government, services are now given in English and French throughout the country where there is significant demand. These rights should not be lost when training programs are transferred to provincial governments.
When airports were transferred to local authorities and when Air Canada was privatized, there were provisions in the legislation to protect these language rights.
I asked my question on November 28 and the government concluded the first formal transfer agreement with Alberta on December 10. In this agreement the following is stated: "In areas of significant demand, Alberta will provide access to the benefits and measures and national employment assistance service functions in both official languages".
These words are similar to section 22 of the Official Languages Act which reads in part as follows: "Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services in either official language in Canada or elsewhere where there is significant demand for communications with and services from that office in that language".
It is essential that the term "significant demand" is defined and interpreted in the same way as it is for the Official Languages Act.
In his answer on November 28 the minister said that the new Employment Insurance Act provided for service in either official language where there was significant demand. I looked through the
act very thoroughly and I was not able to find that article. I would ask the parliamentary secretary to identify the article in question.
I also want assurance from the government this evening that all the other agreements, including the one from my province of Quebec, have provisions similar to that of Alberta or even better, that they contain provisions to guarantee training in both official languages.

Topic:   Adjournment Proceedings
Subtopic:   National Organ Donor Day Act
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