Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Minister Melanie Joly speaks during an event in Ottawa, Monday March 11, 2019. Joly announced a review to modernize the Official Languages Act. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds launch review of official-languages law 50 years after its introduction

The 1969 law enshrined Canadians’ right to receive federal services in English or French

The federal government is launching a review of the Official Languages Act, saying it is time to modernize the decades-old law.

The 1969 law enshrined Canadians’ right to receive federal services in English or French.

The last major reform of the law was in 1988 and there have been recent calls to update it again, including from a Senate committee that late last month said the act needs to be applied more effectively and consistently.

Oversight mechanisms need to be beefed up to ensure rights aren’t trampled on, the report said, adding a veiled reference to a furor in Ontario that forced the government to backtrack on plans to abolish the independent office of its French-language services commissioner and shrink a francophone-affairs cabinet post.

The Liberals plan a series of meetings, the first taking place Tuesday in Moncton, N.B., and an online consultation that’s to result in a final report in June.

Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement that the government wants a modernized act to help minority-language communities “meet the new challenges they face” and ensure the law “can continue to meet the needs of Canadians.”

The latest census figures from Statistics Canada show that in 2016, the country’s bilingualism rate stood 17.9 per cent — an all-time high — mainly due to an increase in the number of people who can speak French.

READ MORE: B.C. road map features 23 historic francophone destinations

READ MORE: SNC-Lavalin’s court loss shifts spotlight to Trudeau’s new attorney general

Statistics Canada had to revise the bilingualism rate down by one-10th of a percentage point after it found a computer error in about 61,000 online census responses: French-speakers were recorded as having English as their mother tongue, leading the agency to report an increase in anglophones in Quebec.

The erroneously reported jump in English-language speakers caused emotional ripples in Quebec, with provincial politicians talking about legislative means to ensure the survival of the French language in the province.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Regional Library branches offer curbside pick up

After two and a half months of being closed, people can once again check books out of the library

Thousands without power after semi collides with power pole in Chilliwack

The collision happened at Prest and First and now 3,600-plus customers are without power

Additions at Chilliwack schools may eventually replace portables

District’s capital plan illustrates which schools need to expand as community grows

Pedestrian struck in late-night collision on Highway 1 in Hope

RCMP were on scene at the incident near Flood Hope Road where traffic was rerouted for eight hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

B.C.’s police watchdog probing death of Richmond man in alleged shoplifting incident

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is asking any witnesses to come forward

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Aldergrove zoo to reopen with staff in masks, one-directional visitor experience to tackle COVID-19

Its June 1 reopening will be ushered in by words from Darryl Plecas, Legislative assembly Speaker

Most Read