POLITICS

Bilingualism Canada: Cost Of French $2.4 Billion Per Year, According To Fraser Institute Study

01/16/2012 05:31 EST | Updated 01/16/2012 05:34 EST
Alamy

A new study has found the price tag for bilingualism in Canada is $2.4 billion per year.

The report from the Fraser Institute claims the federal government spends approximately $1.5-billion each year while the provinces shell out $900 million. Ontario spent the most ($600 million), followed by New Brunswick (approximately $85 million, according to Postmedia.

"The issue we examine in this study is not whether bilingualism is good or bad policy, but the costs above and beyond that of providing education and other services in the majority language,” Francois Vaillancourt, a Universite de Montreal economics professor, said in a statement.

The report comes on the heels of the federal government’s announcement that it will require the new head of the country’s broadcast regulator to speak both English and French.

"The next Chair of the CRTC will be bilingual," Heritage Minister James Moore wrote on Twitter.

Bureaucrat bilingualism made headlines last years when Michael Ferguson was named Canada’s next auditor general. The catch: Ferguson can't speak French fluently.

"I am already in the process of improving my skills in the language," he told The Canadian Press, adding that he should be able to become proficient in the language in a “reasonably short period of time.”

The Harper government stated that Ferguson was taking French lessons, emphasizing that he was selected based on merit. However, opposition parties refused to endorse his nomination.

Just last month,Robert Chisholm dropped out of the NDP leadership race after realizing he wouldn’t be able to master French by March when the next leader will be picked.