September 05, 2013 - 4:33 PM
VICTORIA - As part of its contribution to promote Canada's national unity, B.C. has renewed an agreement with the federal government to enhance services for French-speaking British Columbians for the next five years.
Today, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Norm Letnick shared the good news with representatives across Canada at the 2013 Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie in Winnipeg.
Under the 2013-18 Canada-British Columbia Cooperation Agreement on Official Languages, the provincial and federal governments are working together to promote the start-up of initiatives in priority areas identified by the community in a provincewide consultation. Now that the agreement is signed, the provincial government will implement a new five year strategic plan that will contribute to grow the economy through partnerships with community organizations, municipalities and small businesses based on what the Province heard from the community. The new agreement and strategic plan will be available to the public in the upcoming months.
At today's conference, Letnick and representatives also discussed how governments can strengthen the Canadian Francophonie through early childhood initiatives.
To support this goal, the B.C. government will continue to work with community partners to expand its services to Francophone children and their families. Recently, the Province teamed up with the District of Saanich to provide pre- school programs in French. The programs will help three- to four-year-old children learn French and other important skills through play.
* Created in 1994, the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie (MCCF) brings together the federal, provincial and territorial ministers and elected members responsible for the Canadian Francophonie. The conference works for an opened, dynamic and diverse Francophonie that contributes to and participates fully in the growth of Canadian society.
* Since the first Canada-B.C. co-operation agreement was signed in 2001, joint- funding contributed to grow the economy by allowing economic partnerships with small businesses, supporting the Province's tourism strategy, facilitating the translation of resources for families and partnering with municipalities to provide French books to libraries.
* Currently all 10 provinces and three territories have multi-year, co-operation agreements with the Government of Canada to improve and promote services in Canada's official languages.
* In the 2012-13 school year, approximately 48,309 students were enrolled in French Immersion programs in B.C. This includes 47,857 students in public schools and 452 students in independent schools.
* There are more than 290,000 French speaking citizens in B.C., with more than 40 francophone associations and organizations actively representing the francophone language and culture in the province.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013