Anglo group finds silver lining in revised census figures that show declines

Even though revised census figures show the number of mother-tongue Enlish-speakers in Quebec is declining, a leading Anglo advocacy group has found a sliver of "good news" in the updated numbers.

Total anglophone population increased by only 2,000 since 2011, not 57,000 as StatsCan previously thought

Sylvia Martin-Laforge says an increase in English speakers, even a small one, may mean more funding for Anglo services. (CBC)

Even though revised census figures show the number of mother-tongue Enlish-speakers in Quebec is declining, a leading Anglo advocacy group has found a sliver of good news in the updated numbers. 

Initially Statistics Canada had said Quebec's Anglo population jumped by 57,000 people between 2011 and 2016, an increase of 0.4 percentage points. 

But after discovering a computer error, the agency said Thursday, in fact, the percentage of anglophones in the province dropped from 7.7 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

In absolute terms, the number of English-speakers only went up by about 2,000 people, according to the latest estimate.

"These numbers seem more reflective form what we've been hearing in our community," said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, president of Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

But, for Martin-Laforge, even a minor bump was something to celebrate.

"The vitality of the community is always at risk," she said. "This will mean, we hope, the ability to get more funding for for services in Quebec for the English-speaking community."

No more Bill 202?

Following the release of the old, incorrect data, a number of Quebec politicians began calling for more French-language protections, citing the dramatic increase in English-mother-tongue residents.

Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée went so far as to propose another French-language charter, promising to pass a Bill 202 within the first 101 days of a PQ government.

​Lisée has yet to say whether the revised figures will affect his proposal. 

Jean-Pierre Corbeil, in charge of the language statistics program at Statistics Canada, told CBC News he hopes the updated information will give a clearer picture of the language situation in Quebec.

"The reaction was probably very strong and now the fact that these numbers are changing will certainly change the perspective on the evolution of French and English in Quebec," Corbeil said.

With files from Jay Turnbull