Latest count of English is 90,975, out of more than 437,000 population
More than 30 persons sharing a common interest in the health and well-being of Laval took part on March 31 in a webcast meeting of the Agape-Networking Partners Initiative (Agape-NPI), during which new statistical information about the changing demographics of Laval’s English-speaking population was presented.
A large turnout
Many of those attending were present at the NPI table for the first time. They included several Laval city councillors, some local MPs and MNAs and their political staffers.
Among those who took part were Vimy MP Annie Koutrakis, staff from the office of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin MP Yves Robillard, Sainte-Dorothée city councillor Ray Khalil, l’Abord-à-Plouffe city councillor Vasilios Karidogiannis, Vimont city councillor Michel Poissant, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board chairman and city councillor for St-Vincent de Paul Paolo Galati, staff from Mille-Îles MNA Francine Charbonneau’s office, and staff sent by Laval-des-Rapides MNA Saul Polo.
Statistical data sources
There were also staff representatives from the SWLSB, the CISSS de Laval, as well as other key community groups, including some from Laval’s Francophone community.
The data presented was mostly cited from the last available federal census figures from 2016, with tables which were compiled from Community Health and Social Service research consultant Joanne Pocock. Also cited were research data, such as l’enquête québecoise sur le développement des enfants à la maternelle (EQDEM) from l’Institut du statistique du Québec (ISQ), and from renowned public health doctor Melissa Généreux.
Some of the findings
Here are some of the most notable findings:
- Laval’s English-speaking population has continued to grow (by approximately 40 per cent) since the 2001 (53,390) census until the last census in 2016 (90,975), using the First official Language Spoken definition;
- Laval’s latest count of English-speakers is 90,975;
- The greatest concentrations of English-speakers are in and around the Chomedey sector as well as Vimont and Auteuil;
- When age groups were broken down, such areas as Ste-Rose-Fabreville showed a greater proportion of English-speakers among younger cohorts such as in the 6-14 and 15-24 age groups;
- Socio-economic vulnerability was demonstrated within the English-speaking community, namely in parts of Pont-Viau and Chomedey districts.
- Some research based on social determinants of health demonstrated lower educational outcomes as well as a greater proportion of socio-economically disadvantaged members of Laval’s English-speaking population which, when faced with restricted access to health and social services in English, prove to have worst health outcomes over time;
- Evidence suggests that this is having the largest impact on young children in the 0-5 age group, specifically on their development such as social competence or language and communication skills. (A third of Laval English-speaking children 0-5 are considered vulnerable – that is having lower developmental outcomes in at least one sphere of development);
- Quebec youth, and English-speaking youth in particular, were shown to have higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to French-speaking youth, according to Dr. Melissa Généreux, affecting, as well, caregivers to older parents or loved ones who face more health and economic challenges as a result of their caregiving roles (sometimes excessive), lack of access to health services in their language and having to reduce their work hours to fulfill their responsibilities;
- Lastly, Laval’s English-speaking seniors were shown to be highly likely to live alone and to live below the low-income cut-off (a measure of economic vulnerability where those who spend a greater proportion of their income on essentials such as food, lodging and clothing would be considered vulnerable).
Language barrier problem
In addition, according to the findings, English-speaking seniors who are older are less likely to be able to speak French adequately and this can have disastrous effects on their health, especially when reduced access to health or social services in English is taken into consideration.
The Agape-NPI says it will soon publish a bilingual document with this evidence base to provide to partners, such as political or health representatives, to help them to better consider Laval English-speakers in future policy and program planning.
Axion and English services
During an exchange of comments and ideas, Councillor Karidogiannis suggested that the Axion 50 Plus seniors’ centre on Curé Labelle Blvd. in Chomedey, which is attended mostly by French-speaking seniors, might begin to provide more services in English if more English-speakers were to go to the centre.
Agape executive-director Kevin McLeod said that before deciding to open the Agape Senior Wellness Centre in 2018, he paid a visit to Axion 50 Plus on several occasions, but found the availability of services in English there to be seriously lacking.
“English speakers, especially seniors, have been so used to being a minority that they want things in English,” he said.
“If I was to work with Axion 50 – and believe me, we’ve tried – would they start putting English signage up for English-speaking senior citizens? No, Vasilios, I know they won’t, right? So, it’s simple: We want an organization where things are going to be in English, everything is going to be available.”
Wellness Centre expanding
McLeod also announced that, as a result of increased demand, the Agape Senior Wellness Centre will be expanding at its current location at 3860 Notre Dame Blvd. to the second floor where they will have four times the amount of space they now have on the third storey. “We’re hopeful that by the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall, we can reopen for seniors with four times more activities we had before,” he said, noting that the wellness centre is currently conducting all activities and health presentations virtually through the online Zoom video-conference platform.