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Statistics Canada reports Monday that in the 2016 census, 17.9 per cent of Canadians said they were able to conduct a conversation in both English and French, the highest percentage ever recorded.

The Canadian Press

Statistics Canada is reporting a jump in the number of bilingual Canadians.

The federal agency reports Monday that in the 2016 census, 17.9 per cent of Canadians said they were able to conduct a conversation in both English and French, the highest percentage ever recorded.

The data show that young Canadians are more likely to be bilingual, and the phenomenon is most pronounced in Quebec.

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From 2006 to 2016, the rate of bilingualism among Canadian children aged five to 17 increased to 19 per cent from 16 per cent.

The study looked at the cohort of young people who in 2006 were aged between five and 17. In 2006, 17 per cent of them could converse in English and French.

Ten years later, when they were aged 15 to 27, the same cohort’s bilingualism rate had risen to 27 per cent.

For that age group in Quebec, the bilingualism rate jumped to 66 per cent in 2016 from 28 per cent a decade earlier.

A significant increase was also seen among New Brunswickers in the same age bracket. In 2016, 50 per cent of them were bilingual, compared with 37 per cent in 2006.

Young Quebecers were the most likely to remain bilingual once they learned the two languages. Almost all Quebec youth – 94 per cent – who were bilingual in 2006 remained bilingual 10 years later. Elsewhere in Canada, about one-third of youth who were bilingual in 2006 were no longer bilingual 10 years later.

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