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

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

Fate of accused in Saanich couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

National HIV Testing Day comes to the West Shore

17.1 per cent increase in new HIV infections in Canada between 2014 and 2017

Local grocery store steps up to help resident after Saanich jams her stand

Pepper’s Foods will start selling jams previously sold through roadside stand

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Most Read