Weakness Exposed In Canadian Education With Government Jobs

Published December 4, 2013

Canada has two official languages: French and English. Due to this, government programs, forms, telephone numbers, meetings, and everything else state-related must be available in both languages. That being the case, a large portion of these government positions require bilingual speakers. In fact, the article states:

…Between 5,000 and 6,000 of these positions are designated bilingual, including all senior management positions…”

One would think with this being the case, the government would be heavily invested in encouraging bilingual education in the education system in Canada, however one would be mistaken. Canadian bilingual education has been on the decline for about 15 years. This has created, among other things, a shortage of qualified people to fill these government positions.

According to the article here, the Canadian education system had some work to do in order to help fill the demand for bilingual speakers in government positions back in 2009. Fast forward to 2013, we can see that the issue has still not been really looked at and most certainly not fixed.

The massive amount of benefits of bilingual education notwithstanding, the ability to fill it’s own positions should be motivation enough for the state to take action. When assessing why Canada has failed to act, we must take a few things into consideration: time, money, the changing of a culture.

What Is The Governments Role In This?

Several things have been recommended to help fix this problem. Among them, the following ideas are touched on in the article; all still viable today:

  • Develop a government-run recruitment strategy to encourage post-secondary institutions to emphasize languages in their education
  • Federal support for immersion programs (read money)
  • Bilingual teacher training
  • Student mobility programs

All of these are great options, however how to implement them is another question. The government cannot just come down and demand post-secondary institutions demand all Anglophones take French and Francophones take English. That steps on the toes of the universities and their freedom. The government needs to encourage this cultural convergence of English and French so that the fire is naturally ignited to learn the other language; professional and personal gain aside.

There is definitely more the government could be doing, but at some point, the onus is also on the people. Canadians need to step out, demand better schools, more language programs, more time devoted to keeping this heritage alive in their country. Currently, the countries 19-35 year olds are not speaking two languages, have no interest in speaking two languages, and don’t plan on speaking two languages.

Canada cannot afford to lose another generation to the pits of monolingualism if it wants to remain a bilingual country. That, or just change the national language to English and drop French; also an unpopular choice.

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