Hon. Claudette Tardif:
Leader of the Government in the Senate, three years ago, Employment and Social Development Canada stopped supporting literacy, which has had the effect of undermining the only national organization working on this major file for francophone minority communities. On November 7, the Réseau pour le développement de l’alphabétisme et des compétences, backed by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, sounded the alarm when it announced that the organization’s coffers were empty and that, as of October 31, it had no employees to provide services to francophones living outside Quebec. Employment and Social Development Canada responded by announcing a single consultation. Leader, can you assure us that the government will correct past mistakes and take swift, concrete action in this file?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and I will undertake to bring it to the attention of the appropriate ministers and report back.
Senator Tardif: I’m sure you also know that the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages released an investigation report on October 12 of last year. According to the report, Employment and Social Development Canada failed to fulfill its obligations under Part VII of the Official Languages Act with respect to French literacy. Mr. Leader, can you provide assurances that the government will take its official languages commitments seriously in this regard?
Senator Harder: Again, I want to assure the honourable senator that the minister responsible and the Government of Canada as a whole is committed to enhancing minority language services and rights, and I give my assurance that I will bring this to the attention of the responsible ministers and report back.