The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) today released an independent cost estimate of Bill C-13, which seeks to strengthen the state of French in federal public institutions and expand the use of French in the federally regulated private sector. This report was prepared in response to a request from the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages (OLLO).
Financial implications of the bill arise mainly from the proposed extensions of French language rights to federally regulated private businesses. The PBO estimates the cost to the private sector for the implementation of these rights to be $240 million in one-time costs plus $20 million each year in ongoing costs. These costs arise primarily from language training and bilingualism wage premiums for managers in designated bilingual regions outside Quebec.
The 2021-22 Fall Economic Statement allocated $16 million in 2022-23 for initial implementation costs for federal departments and agencies. The PBO requested details regarding how the money is currently being spent.
“In response to our inquiries, the Treasury Board Secretariat, Canadian Heritage and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada refused to disclose their planned expenditures pertaining to the changes set out in C-13, either as a share of the $16 million for initial implementation or in terms of ongoing expenses”, said Yves Giroux, PBO. “Departments provided limited detail regarding the specific tasks they planned to undertake and no detail regarding their anticipated resources requirements for those tasks.”
Despite a lack of cooperation from the responsible departments, the PBO estimates federal administration costs to implement these rights to rise by at least $2.9 million per year.