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.

Just Posted

BYELECTION: Eight contenders vie for council seat in North Saanich

Byelection to fill vacant council seat set for April 6

Purple Day marks long journey for Gorge resident

Legislative Assembly to recognize epilepsy on Tuesday

More people are hauling themselves to Greater Victoria

Victoria ranks second in U-Haul’s migration survey, behind Kingston

Increasing cloudiness with a high of 12 C for today

A look ahead at this week’s forecast

Stay alert for spring sweepers on Greater Victoria highways

Motorists asked to be on the lookout as road crews prepare for spring

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Video service to compete with Netflix, Amazon expected from Apple on Monday

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Trudeau delivers campaign-style speech while introducing candidate Taggart

The Order of British Columbia recipient said she wants to be the people’s voice in Ottawa

Most Read