New Brunswick language use holds steady, census says
Moncton ranks among Canada's most bilingual, census shows
New Brunswick continues to have the closest balance between citizens who speak Canada's two official languages, according to the latest census data released by Statistics Canada.
The 2011 census sheds new light on what languages Canadians are speaking.
The latest census shows English is the mother tongue of 65.4 per cent of New Brunswickers compared to 32 per cent who say their mother tongue is French.
In 2006, 64.3 per cent of New Brunswickers said their mother tongue was English compared to 32.3, who said their mother tongue was French.
The marginal drop in French as a mother tongue still concerns Jeanne d'Arc Gaudet, the vice-president of the New Brunswick Acadian Society.
"We are very worried," she said.
"A half a per cent every six years means in 50 years it's a 4.2 per cent decrease. So I think we need to be concerned about this."
By comparison, Statistics Canada reported 57.8 per cent of Canadians said their mother tongue was English in 2011 compared to 21.7 per cent who selected French.
New Brunswick has the highest percentage of people saying their mother tongue is French outside of Quebec.
Ontario has 69.3 per cent of its population declaring English as their mother tongue compared to French (4.1 per cent) and non-official language (26.6 per cent).
Even though New Brunswick still has a large population of people identifying French as their mother tongue, d'Arc Gaudet said francophones in the province have to act now to make sure the numbers don't slip any further.
She said more francophone immigrants must be brought in and francophone parents should be encouraged to socialize their children in their mother tongue.
Statistics Canada also reported a small drop in the number of people who speak French at home.
Brigitte Chavez, an analyst with Statistics Canada, said there is a trend starting in New Brunswick.
"In New Brunswick, we see a drop in the proportion as well as in the numbers of persons that can conduct a conversation in French," she said.
Language use by city
In the greater Moncton area, Statistics Canada reported that English was identified as the mother tongue for 83,585 people or 62.2 per cent.
By comparison, 46,960 people, or 35.2 per cent of residents in the southeastern New Brunswick city, identified their mother tongue as French.
The number people who said their mother tongue was English and French grew to 1,920 in 2011 from 1,085 in 2006.
Statistics Canada reported 58 per cent of Canadians or 19.2 million people spoke only English at home compared to 18.2 per cent of the population or six million people who spoke only French.
New Brunswick’s other large southern cities also saw the number of French-speaking residents grow, despite remaining primarily unilingual municipalities.
English was identified as the mother tongue for 85.5 per cent of people in Fredericton compared to 7.3 per cent who said their primarily language is French. That is up from 6.4 per cent in the 2006 census.
Statistics Canada said the number of people saying their mother tongue was English and French jumped to 680 in 2011 from 345 in 2006.
Saint John is still an overwhelmingly unilingual community, according to the census.
English was selected as the mother tongue for 92.2 per cent of people in the greater Saint John area compared to 4.6 per cent who identified as French.
The number of Saint John residents who said their mother tongue was French dropped marginally to 5,515 in 2011 to 5,510 in 2006.
However, the number of Saint John residents saying their mother tongue was both English and French increased to 580 in 2011 from 495 in the same time period.
In Miramichi, the number of people claiming English as their mother tongue grew to 24,650 in 2011, from 21,470 in 2006. Meanwhile, 2,235 reported French being their mother tongue in 2011, compared to 2,010 in 2006.
French is still the dominant language in the Bathurst area.
The Bathurst census agglomeration area, which includes several communities along the Bay of Chaleur, saw the number of people saying French was their mother tongue grow to 21,300 in 2011, from 20,800 in 2006.
Meanwhile, the number of people claiming English as their mother language jumped to 10,810 in 2011, from 9,325 in 2006.