[lg policy] Fraser Institute: Federal and Provincial Bilingualism Requirements Cost Canadian Taxpayers $2.4 Billion Annually
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Tue Jan 17 17:10:47 UTC 2012
Fraser Institute: Federal and Provincial Bilingualism Requirements
Cost Canadian Taxpayers $2.4 Billion Annually; Provinces Spend $900
Million to Provide Dual-Language Services
MONTREAL, QUEBEC, Jan 16, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Canada's 10
provinces spend nearly $900 million annually providing bilingual
government services. Including the $1.5 billion the federal government
spends on bilingualism, Canadian taxpayers are footing an annual bill
of $2.4 billion for bilingual services, a cost of $85 per Canadian.
This breakdown on the costs of bilingualism are contained in a new
report, Official Language Policies of the Canadian Provinces: Costs
and Benefits, released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading
policy research think-tank.
"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 Francois
Vaillancourt, Universite de Montreal economics professor and co-author
of the study.
"When provincial spending on bilingualism is combined with federal
spending, we see a total cost of $2.4 billion to Canadian taxpayers."
The study concludes that provinces with large francophone populations
and a substantial number of government services provided in French
could offer those services at a lower cost by contracting them out to
the private sector on a user-pay basis.
The study examines the costs and benefits of official language
policies of the 10 provinces, including how much each province spends
on providing services in French to a francophone minority. In Quebec's
case, the report looked at the cost of providing services in English
to the anglophone minority. The study is a follow-up to the 2009
report Official Language Policies at the Federal Level in Canada:
Costs and Benefits in 2006.
Language rights for most provinces stem from the 1982 adoption of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 23. However,
Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Quebec are either subject to
supplementary constitutional requirements and/or have provincial
legislation that provides additional language rights protection above
Section 23 of the charter while Ontario has relevant provincial
Of the 10 provinces, Ontario and New Brunswick have large linguistic
minorities (francophones) while Quebec has a large anglophone
minority. Francophone populations in the remaining seven provinces are
all quite small.
Ontario spends $623 million annually - the most among all provinces -
in providing services in French to its francophone minority. New
Brunswick has the second largest budget for minority language
services, $85 million, followed by Quebec at $50 million.
With large linguistic minorities and a substantial number of
government services provided to these minorities in their native
language, these three provinces could reduce the costs for taxpayers
by making greater use of the private sector for translations.
Of the remaining provinces, Alberta spends $33 million on bilingual
services ($534.70 per francophone), B.C. spends $23 million ($426.90
per francophone), Nova Scotia spends $18 million ($540.10 per
francophone), Manitoba spends $16 million ($410.20 per francophone),
Saskatchewan spends $9.65 million ($640.50 per francophone), Prince
Edward Island spends $5.1 million ($946.20 per francophone), and
Newfoundland and Labrador spends $3.4 million ($1780.30 per
In most provinces, a substantial portion of the money spent on
bilingual services comes in the form of providing French-language
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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research
and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary,
Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 85 think-tanks.
Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of
competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of
individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not
accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit
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