Hon. Claudette Tardif:
Good afternoon, Mr. Minister. I would like to follow up on Senator Gagné’s question. There are two parts to my question. First, as you know, early childhood is key to helping minority francophone communities develop and thrive. Once federal monies are transferred to the provinces, some provinces do not provide adequate funding for early childhood programs in official language minority communities. What can those communities do to make sure their needs are recognized?
Second, while I realize you cannot yet unveil what will be in the next official languages plan, we can presume that early learning, the first stage of the education continuum, will be part of it. Do you expect that the new investments to be announced in the official languages plan will be on top of the envelopes announced in the multilateral early learning and child care framework, or are those investments instead meant to replace the envelopes we expect the provinces to allocate out of federal transfer funds?
Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P., Minister of Families, Children and Social Development: Thank you for pointing out how important it is for our minority communities to have access to high-quality, accessible, affordable, educational child care in their mother tongue. That is very important for the development and survival of those communities.
I would reiterate what I said earlier: all the provinces and territories have to submit action plans so that the Canadian government can assess how the money they are allocated will support these communities over the next three years. The provinces and territories that signed bilateral agreements have already released their plans, and the remaining provinces and territories will follow suit. The provinces and territories are committed to investing some of their resources to support linguistic minority families and communities. Thanks to this multilateral framework, every province and territory has recognized the importance of this exercise.
Over the next few years, the federal government will engage in serious and significant work with the provinces and territories, but also with the partners and stakeholders, who are very enthusiastic about the idea of the federal government providing greater support to the provinces and territories in terms of investments in educational child care services. I met with people from those organizations this morning, and we are working very hard to ensure that the data, research, and opportunities for liaison and engagement are fully utilized in order to create a partnership with the provinces and territories, the federal government, and the partners and stakeholders who make the difference on the ground. It is through openness and transparency that we will get results.