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article imageReport: Bilingualism costing Canadians $2.4 billion annually

By Andrew Moran     Jan 16, 2012 in World
Toronto - Would you like English or French? A new report from a leading think tank suggests that bilingualism is costing the country approximately $2.4 billion per year. The province of Ontario spends the most out of all provinces with $623 million per year.
The official languages recognized in Canada, according to the Constitution of Canada, are English and French. According to statistics from the 2006 census, 59 percent of Canadians speak English and a little more than 23 percent speak French.
Many federal and provincial public services offer its citizens options in French and English. Unfortunately, for taxpayers, this is costing the country $2.4 billion annually; $900 million in annual provincial funding for bilingual government services and $1.5 billion the federal government spends on bilingualism, according to a Fraser Institute reported titled “Official Language Policies of the Canadian Provinces Costs and Benefits in 2006.”
The $2.4 billion equals to $85 per Canadian taxpayer.
The province of Ontario spends $623 million per year on bilingual services, which is the most out of all its counterparts. New Brunswick, which has English and French as its official languages, has the second largest budget for bilingualism with $85 million. Quebec is third at $50 million.
Newfoundland and Labrador spends the least out of all provinces with $3.4 million per year.
In most provinces, a substantial amount of bilingual funding is focused on primary and secondary French-language education.
Study authors explain that they are not concluding whether or not bilingualism is bad public policy, but rather are highlighting the costs associated with bilingual services. “The issue we examine in this study is not whether bilingualism is good or bad policy, but the costs above and beyond that of providing education and other services in the majority language,” said Universite de Montreal economics professor, Francois Vaillancourt, in a press release.
The research notes that provinces that maintain a significant francophone population could contract out government services in French to the private sector at a user-pay basis.
Provincial bilingual spending:
- Ontario: $623 million on bilingual services ($1,275 per francophone)
- New Brunswick: $85 million ($357 per francophone)
- Quebec: $50 million ($88 per francophone)
- Alberta: $33 million ($534.70 per francophone)
- British Columbia: $23 million ($426.90 per francophone)
- Nova Scotia: $18 million ($540.10 per francophone)
- Manitoba: $16 million ($410.20 per francophone)
- Saskatchewan:$9.65 million ($640.50 per francophone)
- Prince Edward Island: $5.1 million ($946.20 per francophone)
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $3.4 million ($1780.30 per francophone)
More about Bilingualism, Fraser institute, Canada, Ontario, Taxpayers
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