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Speaking French has never been so profitable!

Philippe Daoust
Canadian Foundation for Cross-Cultural Dialogue


In Canada, doing business in French is not only profitable for Quebec and New Brunswick, where bilingualism is more prevalent, but is also more lucrative for the official language minority communities in the other provinces. A very thorough study conducted by the Conference Board of Canada indicates that knowing French has facilitated trade discussions between provinces and with other French‑speaking countries.

The study, entitled Canada, Bilingualism and Trade, shows that bilingualism produces significant economic benefits for all Canadians.

Pierre Elliot Trudeau would be happy to get his hands on this report! Bilingualism not only pays off for the country's unity but also helps us line our pockets.

The study, prepared for the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité Canada (RDÉE Canada) and the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC), and funded by Industry Canada, divides the country into two parts: Bilingual Canada (Quebec and New Brunswick) and Less Bilingual Canada (the other provinces).

The study indicates that Bilingual Canada's trade with French‑speaking countries is 65% greater than its trade with non‑French‑speaking countries.

While the United States remains Canada's primary trading partner, Canada's trade volume with French‑speaking countries has greatly increased in the last few years. From 1992 to 2011, trade with French‑speaking countries increased by 7.1% per year, a figure slightly greater than the increase in Canada's total global trade, which grew by 6.8% a year during the same period. Therefore, knowledge of a second language seems to promote trade diversification.

The other, less bilingual Canadian provinces should therefore follow the example of Quebec and New Brunswick if they want to diversify their economies. At least, that is what we are given to understand by the press release announcing the study in question.

"The knowledge of two official languages has proven to be an opportunity to increase trade not only with French‑speaking countries of the world but also within the Canadian francophone economic community," said Gilles Lanteigne, President of RDÉE Canada. "Considering that the provinces, with the exception of New Brunswick and Quebec, have a rate of bilingualism ranging from 4.6 to 12.3%, there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the country to increase their trade and do business between them as it has been done in New Brunswick and Quebec."

To read the press release or access the study, go to the web page Canada, Bilingualism and Trade (www) English Hyperlink Notice.