Ottawa invests another $7 million to make sure Vancouver Olympic Games are completely bilingual

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just a day after seeing an article on CBC that Vancouver was struggling with making the Olympic Games completely bilingual due to running out of funds for translation, the Canadian government has announced that it would invest another $7 million in order to ensure that everything is in both English and French. Nevertheless, the situation at the moment is still pretty bad according to Graham Fraser's report. Here's some information from part of the article.

The government of Canada is investing a supplementary $7 million to ensure that French will not be left out of the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010. Heritage Minister James Moore made this announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon.

This federal intervention comes a few hours after the publication of a second alarming report by the official language commissioner Graham Fraser. According to the commissioner, the plan to provide the games in the official languages of the country is in danger if a serious change is not made during the next few weeks. This is the second time in a few months that Mr. Fraser has lobbied the government on the status of French at the Games. The tone used today by the commissioner further reflects the urgency of the situation.

Heritage Minister Moore said that the funds would be used to ensure translation and interpretation services. He also stated that the opening and closing ceremonies would be "completely bilingual".

Mr. Fraser believes that the Olympic Games in Vancouver represent an important test for bilingualism in Canada.

The various airports which will be contributing to receiving the millions of people throughout the world represent the greatest source of concern for Graham Fraser. According to his observations, the airports are not ready to welcome people in both official languages. Worse, services in French are often completely absent. "When they exist, employees have the tendency to first talk with visitors in English alone", he added.

The results obtained from Vancouver Airport, the port of entry for the Games, are "particularly alarming", he said. The establishment received a "zero" for having a bilingual greeting. The situation is no better at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

The report indicates that in the service areas where there is an obligation to provide bilingual service, they were only available 43% of the time at security at Vancouver Airport, 23% of the time at the desks at Air Canada, and 10% of the time services carried out by the airport authorities.

Another article here from Radio-Canada gives some more details.

Bilingual signs
Personal bilingual welcome messages
Service available in French
Canadian administration of aerial transport security (Pearson International Airport in Toronto)
Canadian administration of aerial transport security (Vancouver International Airport)62%
Air Canada (Pearson International Airport in Toronto)68%
Air Canada (Vancouver International Airport)75%
Toronto Metropolitan Airport Authority58%
Vancouver Airport Authority53%
Parks Canada100%
Canada Post94%
Service Canada100%

Canadian hotel and lodging society (Granville Island)



Unknown said...

Is the French language slowly vanishing in Canada? What have the population trends been over the last decades for both groups (French-speaking and English-speaking)?

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