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Bilingual spending costs $2.4 billion per year

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Bilingual spending costs $2.4 billion per year

OTTAWA - The requirement for bilingualism at the federal and provincial level costs governments $2.4 billion per year, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute.

Of that, the federal government is spending $1.5 billion, while the provinces spend $900 million - $623 million of that is in Ontario, the highest spending province.

"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," Universite de Montreal economics professor Francois Vaillancourt said in a statement.

The study, titled Official Language Policies of the Canadian Provinces: Costs and Benefits, breaks down the costs associated with providing services in the minority language in each province - French through most of the country and English in Quebec.

According to the study's authors, the annual cost for providing bilingual services is centred around French-language training.

While Ontario spends the most of bilingual services, New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province, spends the second most annually at $85 million.

Quebec rounds out the top three with an annual bilingual cost of $50 million.

The study concludes that provinces with large francophone populations could reduce spending on services by contracting them out and instituting a user pay system.


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