Official languages and bilingualism survey research presentation

Research Objectives and usage

This research had two major objectives:

  1. Gauge public opinions, perceptions and experiences regarding official languages and bilingualism according to standard demographics for promotional purposes
  2. Gather a detailed socio cultural profile (habits, attitudes, values) of those who support and those who oppose official languages and bilingualism for internal strategic communications purposes.

Executive Summary

Objective #1

  • A vast majority of Canadians support both the Official Languages Act and bilingualism. Although there are some demographic differences in support, every demographic group is more likely to support than oppose the OLA as is the case with bilingualism. Younger adults are more likely to strongly support each.
  • Predictable regional differences in support for the OLA and for bilingualism exist, with Québec higher and the West lower, but the gap between them is actually narrow with high support in every region in Canada.

Objective #2

  • When comparing supporters and opponents of the OLA, a determining factor is the level of exposure that respondents have to the other official language in their community, culture and TV.
  • Many respondents have misconceptions about the OLA and a majority actually believe many of the persistent myths. The most compelling reason respondents give for one to oppose the OLA is the cost of ensuring access to services in both official languages.

Method approach to public opinion research

Target Audience : Canadian adult population 18 years and older

  1. Telephone Phase: Brief but generalizable
    • Probability based sample of landline and cellular phones (n=1,000)
    • Quotas and weights for representativeness (region, age, gender)
    • Data collected: February 16 to March 1, 2016
  2. Online Phase: Detailed but not generalizable
    • Non probability based sample of Nielsen panel members (n=1,016)
    • Quotas and weights for representativeness (region, age, gender)
    • Data collected: March 15 to March 21, 2016

Phone vs Online

The first section of the questionnaire was administered to both telephone respondents and online panel members. The results differ between the two methods, support / agreement being higher over the telephone than online.

Telephone

Telephone, using a random sample, is the most reliable for straightforward questions. It allows us to calculate a margin of error and to present statistically significant differences between groups.

Online

Online, uses a non random sample of panelists. However, it may be better for sensitive questions where there is a possibility of social desirability bias in the presence of an interviewer.

The magnitude of support/agreement differs between methods but they do so consistently (online always lower than telephone). More objective questions (e.g. being bilingual) were almost identical between the two groups.

Data interpretation

Margins of error for telephone survey
Regions Margin of error 19 times out of 20
Canada (1000) +/- 3.1%
Atlantic (102) +/- 9.8%
Quebec (227) +/- 6.5%
Ontario (351) +/- 5.2%
Prairies (105) +/- 9.8%
Alberta (96) +/- 9.8%
British Columbia (119) +/- 8.9%

Apparent regional differences but high overall support in every region

Support for the OLA (% of telephone survey respondents who strongly or somewhat support). Text version follows.
Table - Apparent regional differences but high overall support in every region
Region Support for the OLA (% of telephone survey respondents who strongly or somewhat support)
Canada overall 88%
British Columbia 84%
Alberta 90%
Prairies 83%
Ontario 87%
Quebec 92%
Atlantic 91%

Support for the OLA

Q1. Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act?

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the <em>Official Languages Act</em>? Text version follows.
Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act? Telephone Overall
Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
55% 33% 5% 4% 2%

Base: All Telephone Phase n=1,000

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act?, telephone overall, gender
Telephone Overall - Gender Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
Men 58% 33% 4% 3% 2%
Women 53% 33% 6% 6% 3%

Base: All Telephone Phase n=1,000

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act?, telephone overall, regions
Telephone Overall - Regions Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
Atlantic 61% 30% 4% 3% 3%
Quebec 67% 25% 2% 4% 1%
Ontario 55% 32% 6% 4% 3%
Prairies 41% 42% 10% 6% 1%
Alberta 45% 45% 5% 3% 2%
BC/Terr. 49% 36% 6% 6% 3%

Base: All Telephone Phase n=1,000

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act? , telephone overall, age groups
Telephone Overall - Age groups Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
aged 18-34 60% 32% 3% 2% 3%
aged 35-54 50% 39% 7% 4% 1%
aged 55+ 57% 28% 5% 7% 3%
Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the <em>Official Languages Act</em>? Online Overall. Text version follows.
Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act? Online Overall

Base: All Telephone Phase n=1,000

Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
45% 33% 9% 7% 5%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act?, online overall, gender
Online Overall - Gender Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
Men 44% 36% 9% 5% 7%
Women 46% 30% 9% 11% 3%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act?, online overall, region
Online Overall - Regions Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
Atlantic 44% 44% 5% 5% 3%
Quebec 69% 20% 4% 3% 4%
Ontario 40% 40% 9% 6% 5%
Prairies 34% 29% 15% 11% 10%
Alberta 28% 34% 16% 16% 7%
BC/Terr. 34% 33% 12% 13% 7%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Would you say that you support or oppose the aims of the Official Languages Act?, online overall, age groups
Online Overall - Age groups Strongly support Somewhat support Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Don't know/Refused
aged 18-34 46% 35% 4% 6% 9%
aged 35-54 41% 36% 11% 6% 6%
aged 55+ 48% 28% 11% 10% 3%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Support for bilingualism

Q2A. How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, telephone overall. Text version follows.
How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, telephone overall
Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
54% 30% 8% 7% 1%

Base: All – Telephone Phase n=1,000

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, telephone overall, gender
Telephone Overall - Gender Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
Men 55% 31% 7% 5% 1%
Women 52% 29% 9% 9% 1%

Base: All – Telephone Phase n=1,000

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, telephone overall, regions
Telephone Overall - Regions Strongly support Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
Atlantic 55% 31% 5% 10% 0%
Quebec 67% 26% 5% 2% 1%
Ontario 51% 29% 9% 9% 2%
Prairies 46% 34% 11% 8% 1%
Alberta 42% 40% 12% 6% 0%
BC/Terr. 53% 29% 7% 8% 2%

Base: All – Telephone Phase n=1,000

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, telephone overall, age groups
Telephone Overall - Age groups Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
aged 18-34 64% 26% 6% 3% 1%
aged 35-54 50% 34% 9% 7% 1%
aged 55+ 50% 29% 8% 11% 1%

Base: All – Telephone Phase n=1,000

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, online overall. Text version follows.
How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, online overall
Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
38% 35% 11% 9% 5%

Base: All – Online Phase n=1,016

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, online overall, gender
Online Overall - Gender Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
Men 39% 32% 13% 13% 3%
Women 38% 38% 11% 9% 5%

Base: All – Online Phase n=1,016

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, online overall, regions
Online Overall - Regions Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
Atlantic 35% 47% 5% 11% 1%
Quebec 58% 31% 6% 3% 2%
Ontario 34% 38% 13% 11% 4%
Prairies 30% 34% 12% 18% 6%
Alberta 25% 36% 21% 14% 4%
BC/Terr. 32% 31% 15% 15% 7%

Base: All – Online Phase n=1,016

How much do you agree … I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, online overall, age groups
Online Overall - Age groups Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
aged 18-34 44% 35% 10% 5% 5%
aged 35-54 35% 35% 13% 12% 5%
aged 55+ 37% 36% 12% 13% 2%

Base: All – Online Phase n=1,016

Support for favorable statements on official languages and bilingualism opposition to critical ones

Support for favorable statements on official languages and bilingualism opposition to critical ones. Text version follows.
Support for favorable statements on official languages and bilingualism opposition to critical ones
Statement Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
Having two official languages is positive for Canada's international image 42% 34% 11% 8% 5%
I am personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada 38% 35% 12% 11% 4%
Because English and French are part of our history, it makes sense that they have equal status 40% 33% 13% 11% 3%
Maintaining two official languages just doesn’t make sense for unilingual areas 21% 23% 25% 24% 7%
Too much money is being spent on bilingualism by the Government of Canada 18% 21% 27% 22% 12%
There are languages other than English and French which should be made official 6% 13% 21% 50% 9%
Total of respondents who strongly agree and somewhat agree in the Online Phase 76% 74% 73% 44% 39%
Total of respondents who strongly agree and somewhat agree in the Telephone Phase 87% 84% 84% 49% 36%

Base: All – Telephone Phase n=1,000 Online Phase n=:1,016
*This question text has been shortened to fit on the graph.

Majority support for second official language education

Majority support for second official language education. Text version follows.
Majority support for second official language education
Statement Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
English and French should continue to be taught in all elementary schools across Canada. 48% 33% 7% 7% 4%
More efforts should be made so that young people become bilingual and can speak in both English and French. 38% 35% 14% 9% 5%
Provincial governments should make more spaces available in immersion programs. 28% 38% 15% 8% 11%
It is more useful for children in Canada to learn to speak other languages like Mandarin, or Arabic than it is for them to learn to speak both official languages. 9% 16% 30% 35% 9%
Online Phase 81% 73% 66% 26%
Telephone Phase 89% 84% 78% 78% 28%

Base: All Respondents – Telephone Phase n=1,000 Online Phase n=1,016

Broad support for official languages and bilingualism in national leadership, events, capital

Broad support for official languages and bilingualism in national leadership, events, capital. Text version follows.
Broad support for official languages and bilingualism in national leadership, events, capital
Statement Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don't know/Refused
Canadians should be able to obtain Federal services in English or French 54% 31% 7% 6% 3%
The Prime Minister of Canada should be bilingual 50% 26% 12% 9% 4%
Ottawa, the National Capital, should be recognized as officially bilingual (i.e. recognize the equal status of English and French) 43% 30% 13% 9% 5%
The celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Confederation should be used as an opportunity to promote Canada’s official languages 32% 34% 16% 11% 6%
Major events in Canada, such as the Olympic Games, should be required to take place in both official languages 35% 31% 16% 13% 5%
Online Phase 85% 75% 73% 66% 65%
Telephone Phase 96% 86% 87% 82% 83%

Base: All Respondents – Telephone Phase n=1,000 Online Phase n=1,016

Regionalized bilingualism among panelists With those in the West seeing it as unnecessary

Q7. How would you describe your level of proficiency in [English/French]?

Q7. How would you describe your level of proficiency in [English/French]?  Text version follows.
Q7. How would you describe your level of proficiency in [English/French]?
Telephone Online
Fluent 16% 15%
Conversant 32% 29%
Not able to converse 51% 54%
Don't know/Refused 1% 2%

Base: All Respondents – Telephone Phase n=1,000 Online Phase n=1,016

Q8. What are the factors that have prevented you from learning [English/French]?

Q8. What are the factors that have prevented you from learning [English/French]?  Text version follows.
Q8. What are the factors that have prevented you from learning [English/French]?
Statement" Telephone Phase Online Phase
Not necessary/no need to 21% 33%
I have not had access to language courses 31% 23%

Base Those who are conversant or not able to converse in the other official language: Telephone Phase n=840 Online Phase n=852

Percentage of respondents saying it is not necessary or no need to.  Text version follows.
% saying "Not necessary/no need to"
Regions Percentage
Overall 31%
Atlantic 23%
Quebec 14%
Ontario 31%
Prairies 34%
Alberta 45%
BC/Terr. 42%

Base Those who are conversant or not able to converse in the other official language: Telephone Phase n=840 Online Phase n=852

Greater support for the OLA among Panelists who perceive their community as bilingual

Q20A. To what degree do you think people in your community are able to speak both English and French?

Q20A. To what degree do you think people in your community are able to speak both English and French?  Text version follows.
Q20A. To what degree do you think people in your community are able to speak both English and French?
Perception of community's bilingualism Percentage
Nearly completely bilingual 3%
A sizeable portion of people are bilingual 19%
Only a small proportion of people are bilingual 50%
Virtually no one is bilingual 22%
Don't Know/Refused 5%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Support for OLA.  Text version follows.
Support for OLA
Online Phase Total Sizeable or Higher Small Proportion Virtually No One
Strongly support the OLA 45% 64% 44% 31%
Somewhat support the OLA 33% 25% 38% 30%
Somewhat oppose the OLA 9% 5% 8% 19%
Strongly oppose the OLA 7% 1% 7% 16%
Don't know/Refused 5% 5% 4% 3%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Language policy myths commonly held and cost seen as most persuasive for one to oppose the OLA

Q13. Based on your understanding, are each of the following statements true or false?

Based on your understanding, are each of the following statements true or false? Text version follows.
Q13. Based on your understanding, are each of the following statements true or false?
Statement Percentage of respondents anwering yes
Canada’s language policy means all federal services must be offered in both languages coast-to-coast. 87%
There are more speakers of non-official languages in Canada than there are of French. 71%
You must be bilingual to work for the federal public service. 49%
Quebec does not have to provide services in both languages. 47%
Only native French speakers will ever meet bilingualism criteria of the federal public service. 25%
Canada’s language policy means that all Canadians must speak English and French. 16%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Q14. Which of the following reasons would you say is the most persuasive?

Q14. Which of the following reasons would you say is the most persuasive?
Ensuring that people can access services in both official languages is simply too expensive There are other languages which should be considered "official" in addition to just English and French The government just should not be involved with promoting or protecting official languages in Canada
Percentages 60% 22% 18%

Base: All Online Phase n=1,016

Note:

The argument that government should not be involved in promoting/protecting languages was more commonly chosen by opponents of the aims of the OLA than by supporters.

Other Surveys

Nielsen, TeleVox Omnibus Survey, Winter 2016

Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada. Text version follows.
Q1. Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada?")
Q1. "Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada?" Percentage
Yes 67%
No 31%
Don't know/Refused 2%

Base: All tVox Wave March 23-30 n=1,023

Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada - Gender
Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada - Gender Men Women
Yes 68% 66%
No 30% 32%
Don't know/Refused 2% 2%

Base: All tVox Wave March 23-30 n=1,023

Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada - Region
Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada - Region Atlantic Quebec Ontario Prairies Alberta BC/Terr.
Yes 68% 87% 66% 51% 43% 64%
No 29% 12% 32% 47% 52% 36%
Don't know/Refused 3% 2% 2% 2% 5% 1%

Base: All tVox Wave March 23-30 n=1,023

Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, Age groups
Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada, Age groups aged 18-34 aged 35-54 aged 55+
Yes 70% 69% 64%
No 25% 30% 35%
Don't know/Refused 4% 1% 1%

Base: All tVox Wave March 23-30 n=1,023

Other Surveys

Environics, Focus Canada Survey

As you know, English and French are Canada's two official languages. Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada. Text version follows.
"As you know, English and French are Canada's two official languages. Are you personally in favour of bilingualism for all of Canada" (Yes)
1977 1978 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1997 2000 2003 2012
51% 54% 55% 51% 50% 46% 50% 51% 53% 57% 57% 56% 63%

Sources:

Environics Focus Canada 1977 – 2003 in, CRIC Papers, Bilingualism: Part of Our Past or Part of Our Future? By Andrew Parkin and André Turcotte, March 2004.

Environics Focus Canada 2012, Detailed data tables.