The Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA) du Canada, the national voice of Canada’s French-speaking minority communities, is very satisfied with the blueprint made public today by Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly for an overhaul of Canada’s official languages policies. The FCFA hopes that the government will move swiftly to convert the proposals in this white paper into a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act.
The document, entitled English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada, features several proposals, including enshrining the Court Challenges Program into the Act, as well as the right to be heard in the official language of one’s choice without an interpreter before the Supreme Court. The document also includes key priorities for the FCFA, such as making the Treasury Board responsible for global oversight of the implementation of the Act, as well as a government obligation to adopt a policy to foster immigration to Francophone minority communities.
“These, and other measures in the proposed reforms would have a transformative impact on the country and on our official languages. It’s a moment of pride for the FCFA, because a lot of our proposals were included in the document and we’re happy with the work we did to get to that point. We also want to acknowledge the work by Minister Joly and her team – we feel like our voices were heard and our message understood,” says FCFA President Jean Johnson.
The FCFA is also pleased to see the government acknowledge the specific status and vulnerability of French, which requires protection and promotion to achieve substantive equality of our two official languages.
The FCFA is committed to working with the government to clarify key elements in the document, such as how the specificities of the country’s various language regimes will be recognized, and move toward a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act.