The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act on her cross-Canada tour to discuss its modernization
TORONTO, April 10, 2019 /CNW/ - As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, the Government of Canada is reaffirming the importance of French and English, which, along with Indigenous languages, are powerful symbols of the diversity and inclusiveness of Canadian society. They are at the heart of who we are as Canadians. It 1969, our country passed legislation that recognized the equal status of French and English. It gave us a model of how to live together, along with tools to strengthen our official-language minority communities.
The Honourable Mélanie Joly spoke about the review to modernize the Official Languages Act with the Canadian Club of Toronto. She highlighted the leadership shown by the Government of Canada in supporting official languages and bilingualism with its Action Plan for Official Languages.
For the past few weeks, Canadians have been invited to round tables and forums held across the country to take part in the discussion, in person or online, regarding major issues surrounding official languages and how we can ensure the future of official-language minority communities.
Minister Joly noted at a Toronto round table earlier in the morning that the government has started an important review process of the act earlier this year to look more closely at certain issues that have arisen over the years including: slower increases in the Francophone population relative to that of Canadians who speak English as their first official language; the stagnating rate of bilingualism outside Quebec; and the disruptive effects of new technology on the ways we communicate.
The cross-Canada tour moves on to Sudbury on April 12. More forums and round tables will be held in other regions, as well as a major symposium. The public is invited to follow the online forums and share their comments or suggestions regarding the review. Further information is available at Canada.ca.
Minister Joly also discussed the implementation of the Action Plan for Official Languages, which was announced a year ago. The plan calls for a historic investment of $2.7 billion over five years to support official-language minority communities and promote bilingualism across the country. It renews and consolidates existing measures such as core funding for community organizations and brings in new measures—such as support for community media and the Community Cultural Action Fund—to strengthen our communities and improve access to services in minority languages.
"I have had the privilege of visiting communities in every corner of the country and I've seen the kind of courage and resilience it takes to live in your language when you are in the minority. I have also seen how our official languages are part of who we are. They are more than just an economic asset; they are critical tools of social and cultural inclusion. The Official Languages Act has had a profound impact on the 2 million Canadians living in a linguistic minority. Its modernization is necessary if it is to continue to meet the needs and aspirations of Canadians."
-The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie
The Official Languages Act was passed in 1969 and gave Canadians the right to receive federal government services in the language of their choice. It recognized French and English as the country's two official languages. It brought better protection for the rights of people living in official-language minority communities and made it possible to promote full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society.
The purpose of the Government of Canada's review is to strengthen the Official Languages Act so that it lines up with the aspirations of Canadians, addresses societal change as well as the government's broader role in it, and continues to exercise its positive influence over the long term.
The goal of the review is for the Government of Canada to engage in a national conversation on the following topics:
- Mobilization, development, and vitality of official-language minority communities
- Federal institutions that embody official languages
- Promoting culture and bilingualism
- Official languages and Canada's place in the world
- Official languages and Canada in the digital age
This exercise will complement the consultations and reviews in the areas of the administration of justice, the language of government communication, the language of work of federal public servants, the role of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, the promotion of official languages, and debates and parliamentary proceedings.
The Action Plan for Official Languages provides for an unprecedented investment of $2.7 billion over five years, including $500 million in new funding to support minority-language communities and promote bilingualism all over the country.
In the last year, the Government of Canada supported 98 official-language projects in Ontario. Total funding came to $98,313,722 for projects that support official-language minority communities and promote bilingualism.
SOURCE Canadian Heritage
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