The Federal government of Canada has announced an additional commitment of $500 million CAD for Official Bilingual programs. This comes after the original announcement of $2.2 billion CAD in funds already appropriated for the programs.

The Canadian government claims that the programs will work to reinforce minority language communities, increase access to French language services, and promote the country’s goal of bilingualism for all citizens.

The Canadian government officially became bilingual in 1969. The Official Languages Act was passed after legislators were informed of a decrease in the use of the French language. The Act was intended to encourage residents to obtain French language skills. However, the Act has been mostly ineffective, as French proficiency has continued to fall in the country throughout the years. The current Canadian executive administration believes that yet another increase in funds for the programs will curb the declining French proficiency.

Canada’s example raises serious questions about what the U.S. government could be spending on its own multilingual policies at a time when at least 350 languages are spoken in U.S. homes according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. population is almost ten times larger than Canada’s. Unfortunately, the United States government does not currently have a uniform system for recording the exact amount of funds allocated for multilingual services. Estimates place the total in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The United States must discontinue providing multilingual services and begin saving taxpayer dollars. They must ensure that taxpayer dollars are being allocated to important services, like the military. We must prevent the kind of wasteful government spending on multilingual services, like the ones provided in Canada. There is no better time than now for Congress to act on this issue and pass H.R. 997 and S. 678, the English Language Unity Act.

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U.S. English, Inc. is the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, U.S. English, Inc. ( www.usenglish.org ) now has more than 2 million members.