[lg policy] Canada: Measuring the Cost of Bilingualism

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 4 16:34:03 UTC 2010

Language Policy
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Measuring the Cost of Bilingualism

All countries have language policies, be they explicitly written in
language laws or implicit, as a result of education opportunities in a
given language. Such policies will evolve over time with historical,
demographic and economic factors. Canada has explicit and implicit,
unilingual and bilingual, language policies.

French-English bilingualism in particular has always been a
contentious issue in Canada. While there was de facto bilingualism in
the legislative assemblies before Confederation, English was the only
language to be officially recognized. This changed with the
Constitution Act of 1867 which stated that French and English could
both be used in the debates of Parliament. The Constitution Act of
1982 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms went further and
constitutionally designated English and French as official languages
of Canada.

Regardless of the philosophical reasons behind language policies,
implementing them imposes costs. The Fraser Institute's research on
language policy attempts to measure the costs of federal and
provincial bilingualism. Future research will explore optimal language
policies for Canada.

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If it matters, measure it

This maxim guides the work of The Fraser Institute. We conduct
research on issues that matter to Canadians, looking at solutions that
will increase prosperity and improve our quality of life.

Fraser Institute research is independently conducted. To protect this
independence, we accept no government funding or contracts for


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