Interim Commissioner of Official Languages says federal language regime due for review

GATINEAU, QC, June 8, 2017 /CNW/ - As the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act approaches, Interim Commissioner of Official Languages Ghislaine Saikaley says that it is time to conduct a review of the federal language regime.

In her 2016–2017 annual report tabled in Parliament today, Ms. Saikaley explains that the only time the Act has undergone a major revision was back in 1988. The past three decades have seen many changes that have shaped Canadian society and the way government services are delivered to the public.

"It is vital that we take the specific situations of official language minority communities into account. Many social, economic and cultural factors—including the significant contribution of immigration—have a direct impact on the vitality of these communities. For example, minority language media have had to change their practices because federal institutions are posting more and more of their advertisements and public notices on the Internet," said the Interim Commissioner.

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages worked with the government, parliamentarians and the public service to ensure that the interests of official language communities are taken into account and that the measures taken by the government produced tangible results. The Office of the Commissioner also participated in Canadian Heritage's cross-Canada official languages consultations in 2016.

"In the coming year, we plan to conduct a brainstorming exercise, including consultations with official language communities, to identify possible changes to the Act," added Ms. Saikaley. "The results of the 2016 Nielsen survey conducted for my office shows that Canadians strongly support the aims of the Act. The time is right to start a conversation."

The Interim Commissioner is therefore asking the government to do the same. She feels that it is time to review federal language policy with a view to establishing a clear vision for the 50th anniversary of the Act in 2019.

She also noted that the government's review of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations and its work on developing the next official languages action plan could provide input to this exercise.

Links to related documents:

2016–2017 annual report of the Interim Commissioner of Official Languages

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SOURCE Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

For further information: Nelson Kalil, Manager, Public Affairs, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Telephone: 819-420-4714, Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368, Cellular: 613-324-0999, E-mail: nelson.kalil@clo-ocol.gc.ca

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