GATINEAU, QC, Oct. 24, 2022 /CNW/ – Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge issued the following statement today about the situation regarding French immersion in New Brunswick:
“I am concerned about the way discussions are going about the French immersion program for English–speaking students in New Brunswick.
“The province’s unique bilingual status is a source of pride not only for New Brunswickers, but for all Canadians.
“We know that access to effective second–language education programs, including immersion, is one of the fundamental factors that make it possible to embrace bilingualism in everyday life.
“I agree with Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick Shirley MacLean that we need to increase access to second–language learning for all New Brunswickers without losing sight of the current program’s success.
“The statistics speak for themselves. According to the 2021 Census of Population, the bilingualism rate of young English–speaking New Brunswickers is on the rise. This group has the highest rate of bilingualism among English–speaking youth in the country outside of Quebec. In fact, 20% of English–speaking New Brunswickers under the age of 15 are bilingual, as are 32% of 15– to 24–year–olds.
“I strongly encourage decision-makers to focus on the interests and future of New Brunswick’s youth, and to take full advantage of the education community’s considerable expertise. Access to second–language learning is not just a provincial issue. Your leadership is essential, as the direction you choose for French immersion in New Brunswick will have an impact on bilingualism across the country.”
SOURCE Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages