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The very first Official Languages Act was enacted 50 years ago. The last complete overhaul of the Act dates back to 1988. Canada has changed significantly since that time and the current Act – which was never adequately implemented – is woefully outdated.
It’s time to finish the work started in 1969. It’s time to give Canada a modern, coherent and fully implemented Official Languages Act.
An Act that reflects Canada’s commitment to celebrating its diversity and to protecting its two official languages, while maintaining respect for Indigenous languages and traditions.
An Act that enhances Canada’s reputation as a country of laws, where minorities are respected.
An Act that puts our two official languages to work for our country’s economic and social development.
An Act that strengthens the status of French and English as our two main common languages.
An Act that supports genuinely pan-Canadian linguistic duality, with a strong Francophonie in all regions of the country and a bilingual workforce from coast to coast.
In its current form, the Official Languages Act commits the federal government to taking positive measures to support the development of official language minority communities and to promoting English and French in Canadian society. However, the Act does not specify what positive measures
should be taken, nor how communities should be consulted and actively participate in the implementation of government initiatives that affect them.
Demand for French-language education, French immersion programs
and French-as-a-second-language classes exceeds supply.
Year after year, less than 2% of immigrants who settle outside Quebec are French-speaking.
An immigration policy that takes into account the government’s commitment to restoring the demographic weight of Francophone and Acadian communities to 4.4% by 2023.
Supreme Court judges who do not understand French rely on interpretation services, which do not always provide an accurate reflection of the arguments made before the Court.
Remove the exemption in the Act so that all Supreme Court judges can hear cases in both official languages, without the assistance of an interpreter.
No federal institution has the authority or power to ensure consistent implementation of the Official Languages Act throughout the federal administration and to demand results from the other institutions. As a result, several federal institutions simply do what they want, in the manner they
Assign responsibility to a central agency, namely the Treasury Board, for the overall implementation of the Official Languages Act, and provide it with the powers necessary to fulfil this mandate.
It can often be difficult for citizens to seek justice when a federal institution fails to meet its language obligations. Complaints to the Commissioner of Official Languages frequently take years to process and federal institutions often ignore the resulting recommendations.
Create an official languages administrative tribunal to hear complaints concerning violations of the Act, with the authority to impose penalties on offending institutions.
Federal funding agreements with the provinces and territories often provide little benefit to Francophone minorities, and fail to compel the provinces and territories to report on how the money was spent.
Include language clauses in all federal funding agreements, requiring the provinces and territories to take measures to promote linguistic duality and providing for rigorous accountability.
Canadian society is changing at an accelerated pace, and a 30-year-old
Official Languages Act no longer reflects the current context.
Review the Act every ten years to ensure it remains relevant and current.
In March 2019, the FCFA unveiled a complete and thorough proposal for a bill to modernize the Act. This document, which shows what a modernized Official Languages Act could look like, is the result of 18 months of discussion and reflection by Canada’s Francophone and Acadian communities. The following documents are the key components of the bill: