In the next couple of weeks, we will have another provincial election. There are a number of important issues in the province today, including the provincial debt, healthcare, and education. In the medium to long-term we must see a change in how bilingualism is implemented. Voters should expect that political parties can address more than one of these issues at a time.
ARA promised our members an analysis of the party platforms would be done prior to the election, particularly in regards to language issues in the province. The following are the opinions/views of the ARA on where each party stands on language policy:
The Liberal Party, under their new leader Mr. Vickers, has reaffirmed their commitment to the status quo when it comes to bilingualism. It is clear the Liberal Party not only supports the status quo on language policies but will enhance and increase bilingualism laws in the next Official Language Act review to be conducted in 2021. This will further restrict and discriminate against unilingual English citizens.
The NDP and Green Parties
Both of these parties, much like the Liberal party, favor the present language laws and policies and are likely to support widening the scope of the Official Languages Act in the upcoming amendment review.
The People’s Alliance Party
The Peoples Alliance Party have been the only party to mention language issues in their platform. They are committed to making changes to language testing and training. In addition, they want to lower the French language proficiency level required for many jobs. They also feel that French Immersion is a failure and this needs to be addressed.
The Conservative Party
The Conservative Party has made no mention of resolving language issues in their platform. They did however, work with the PANB Party with making changes to the ambulance procedures that allowed some Anglophone paramedics to obtain permanent job status.
Earlier in Premier Higgs’ mandate (Oct 2019) he rejected the Language Commissioner’s recommendation that would amend language requirements for nursing home workers. Higgs also said he would not establish an official languages secretariat. During this election campaign Higgs said that he would not refuse to look at the PANB request of lowering the French language proficiency level for civil service bilingual jobs. To be clear however, the Higgs government has made no commitments towards resolving language issues in their platform.
Premier Higgs had promised that the ARA would be involved in all discussions pertaining to language but that has not been the case.
It must be clear that regardless of which party is elected they must tackle more than one or two issues. On our analysis, the only party that has announced in their platform that they want to make changes to our language issues is the People’s Alliance Party. As our Anglophone children and grandchildren leave the province due to bilingualism, more and more Francophones are coming in to take the jobs. This will separate our families for a long time as once they leave, it is not likely they will return to the province.
We hope that you will take all this into consideration as you make the important decision on which party to vote for in the upcoming election. Please make your voice be heard and get out there and VOTE!
ARA Executive Team