Chapter 7 Language
Participants submitted 34 comments on language during consultations. Many of these requested new questions on the language most spoken in the public domain or on the preferred language of service.
Language most spoken • More than one-quarter of the comments received on this topic expressed support for maintaining the question on language most spoken at home or requested new questions on language spoken most often in the public domain. It was felt that information on language spoken in the public domain would enhance the understanding of Canada's linguistic situation, help measure language vitality and is better suited to evaluate the efficacy of federal and provincial legislation such as the provision of services under the Official Languages Act.
Language of service • According to some, more insight into the preferred language of service (in the context of written and spoken communication) would help organizations such as governments and financial institutions plan their service delivery.
Other language comments include the following:
- collect data on languages of instruction at school to gauge the level of support for bilingualism in the education system
- remove the ‘still understood' condition from the existing mother tongue question and introduce a second question asking the respondent whether they still understand that language. This would permit a better observation of language loss and ensure historical comparability
- incorporate examples such as ‘Mandarin' or ‘Cantonese' among the options to produce more precise information on non-official languages
- use a scale (1 to 5) in the knowledge of official languages question (‘Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?') to better evaluate the respondent's ability.
Language content • It was reported that language questions are important to assure accessibility to programs, determine whether language poses a barrier for training and employment, and for emergency purposes. A few participants thought the number of language questions could be reduced or would be better suited to other surveys. At the same time, it was contended that the existing questions should be retained and not be modified in order to maintain historical continuity.
Considering the factors for introducing new questions or modifying existing census content, such as consultation feedback, support to legislation, program and policy needs, data quality, costs, historical comparability, respondent burden, privacy, operational considerations and alternative data sources, the present set of language questions seems to best address the needs for data in this area. Therefore, no changes are anticipated for 2011.
Language content on the census is used for evaluating and monitoring federal legislation, policies and programs including:
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Official Languages Act
- Official Languages Support Programs
Source: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 92-379-XIE, 2001 Census Handbook.
Questions 13 to 16 and 48 on the 2006 Census questionnaire (see Appendix 3) relate to language
- Date modified: