The national voice of Canada’s Francophone and Acadian minority communities is calling on the federal government to keep its promise to modernize the Official Languages Act. The Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada expects the upcoming Speech from the Throne to spell out the government’s commitment to introduce a bill to that effect before the end of the year. The FCFA will be looking for the same commitment in the Minister of Official Languages’ mandate letter.
“We’ve been talking about this for two years now. An incredible amount of work has gone into paving the way to modernize the Official Languages Act – there have been government consultations, two parliamentary committee reports, another report by the Commissioner of Official Languages, briefs by numerous organizations from official language minorities, as well as a bill proposal by the FCFA. There’s no reason not to act now,” says FCFA President Jean Johnson.
In October of last year, Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that a six-month timeline for introducing a bill was feasible. While the COVID-19 crisis has obviously modified government priorities, the FCFA believes that introducing a bill before the end of 2020 is still quite realistic, considering all the work that’s been done on this issue up to now.
“The COVID-19 crisis has also shown once again that when there’s a national emergency, one of our official languages takes a back seat. English-only press conferences by governments in several regions – including Canada’s only bilingual province – and unilingual labeling on cleaning products have shown how badly we need a modernized Official Languages Act now, if French and English are truly to be equal in this country,” comments Mr. Johnson.