Statistics Canada corrects itself: fewer anglos in Quebec than initially thought
Published Thursday, August 17, 2017 9:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 17, 2017 8:02PM EDT
Statistics Canada has corrected itself when it comes to the linguistic breakdown of Canadians.
Earlier this month the agency incorrectly reported that the number of mother-tongue anglophones in Quebec had increased by 57,325 people between 2011 and 2016.
The news of the increase inflamed worries among the self-described "protectors" of the French language who called for Quebec to end official bilingualism, and for other measures to limit the appeal of the English language.
But demographer Jack Jedwab informed the agency that there appeared to be multiple flaws with the 2016 Census data, notably the increase in anglophones in areas in rural Quebec.
Stats Can reviewed its data and has now issued corrected figures showing that the trends it initially noticed are still present, just not to the extent first believed.
In the end, 55,000 of those identified as mother-tongue English speakers were actually francophones, an error the agency blamed on a computer problem.
The correction means that Canada's bilingualism rate is 17.9 percent -- down from the 18 percent Statistics Canada had reported as an all-time high for the country.
The number of people with French as a mother tongue in Quebec was 79.1 percent in 2016 -- down from 79.7 percent in 2011, however the number of people who speak French at home has increased a tenth of a percentage point to 87.1 percent.
Likewise a slightly larger number of people are speaking English at home in Quebec, up to 19.2 percent from 18.3 percent in 2011.
But many of those speaking English at home speak another language as well. The number of people speaking solely English at home is 6.0 percent, a slight decrease from five years earlier.
"English is slightly decreasing as the only mother tongue reported. It's slightly decreasing as the main home language as single response, so those who only speak English. But when we take into account all responses what's happening, in fact, is that English is slightly increasing and French is overall pretty stable," said Pierre Corbeil of Statistics Canada.
Overall, the English-language minority in Quebec increased 0.2 percentage points between 2011 and 2016, up to 13.7 percent of the provincial population.
"Quebecers will wake up to learn that over the past five years, rather than a 57,000 person or 10 percent increase in Anglophones, the increase is actually a mere 2,000 -- much less than one percent over that period," said Jedwab.
"Language debates can be very emotional in Quebec and thus it is important to take the necessary time to examine the revised results before drawing firm conclusions."
The third language most spoken at home in Quebec is Arabic, which is used by 213,055 people -- an increase of about 50,000 people over five years.