Language data are used to profile the linguistic diversity of Canada's population. They are required to meet Canada's obligations under the Official Languages Act, in particular with regards to the rights of official language minorities, and are used in efforts to preserve Aboriginal language, heritage and culture.

Examples of reported data usesFootnote1


Census Program language results enable the federal government to enhance the development and vitality of English and French-speaking minority communities nationally, and in the provinces and territories, as well as to promote the recognition and use of English and French in Canada as stipulated under Part VII of Canada's Official Languages Act. Language data are also used by Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to carry out the provisions of official languages regulations, for the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and regulations as well as food and drug regulations, and for activities associated with the Canada Elections Act.

As reported in the consultation feedback from the provincial and territorial governments, language data are used to underpin diversity and equity, and protect minority languages. They were cited in relation to the implementation of the Canada-Alberta Agreement for French-Language Services. Supported by the First Peoples' Heritage, Language and Culture Act, British Columbia's First Peoples' Cultural Council uses these data in conjunction with revitalization activities. Other examples of provincial legislations submitted during consultation include Ontario's French Language Services Act and New Brunswick's Official Languages Act.

Resource allocation and service delivery

At low levels of geographical detail, these data are used to ensure the delivery of services to official language minorities via Canadian Heritage's Official Languages Support programs. Language results are also used by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to determine resource allocations for their consumer protection programs. They are consulted to understand the recruiting environment and assess the demand of bilingual services delivery in Canadian Forces recruiting centres, and by the Search and Rescue Squadrons.

Language data are required for decisions concerning resource allocation and/or for service delivery by the provinces and territories. For example, they enable monitoring and adherence to legislated requirements under the Health Protection and Promotion Act — Ontario Public Health Standards, and the provision of French language education to Yukon's French-speaking minority.

At the local level, language data support resource allocation for program plans for the recommended top languages for interpretation, the production of public health quick stats and home language maps in reports to Council and the public.

Planning, development, monitoring, evaluation and performance reports

Through the identification of target communities, Census Program data on language permit federal organizations to design, develop and deliver programs and policies. For example, language is used to support the Canadian Heritage's (PCH) Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality, and to measure the outcome of the Aboriginal Languages Initiative, part of the Aboriginal Peoples' Program which aims to strengthen Aboriginal languages and cultures. They are also used by Employment and Social Development Canada to track the vitality of Canada's official languages.

Provincial governments rely on Census Program language results for economic and social policy development, labour market planning, social services program accountability and to identify performance gaps. They are used for Ontario's French-Language Policy Framework for Postsecondary Education and Training, and Literacy and Basic Skills Program. Language data also inform the development of programs for the integration of new immigrants in the labour market.

Among the local governments that participated in the consultation, it was reported these data are required for policy development and program planning, corporate budgeting, welcoming community policies targeting linguistic minorities, for planning municipal affairs and recruiting home child care providers.

Research and other uses

Language data are the main source of information on the evolution of language dynamics for federal, provincial, territorial and local governments and help to measure the impact of sociocultural and demographic changes on language knowledge and use.

They are used to follow changes in demolinguistic dynamics, understand the degree of linguistic diversity and proficiency in Canada, analyse labour market outcomes, for public health research and analysis, and applied microeconomics analysis.

Among the examples provided, service providers use these data to plan outreach activities and determine the need for English as second-language programs. Other non-government organizations consult them to forecast educational achievement, support activities related to the language preservation of target groups, for example of Aboriginal languages, to create population projections and estimates, for research, funding proposals, presentations and discussion documents, social policy research and program monitoring.

Other examples include:

  • Sociodemographic profiles of minority language school communities
  • Statistical modelling and trend analysis
  • Targeted communications and marketing activities.
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