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

Central Okanagan schools ready to welcome students back

Students are set to go back to school next Monday, June 1

UPDATE: Police investigating after hydrant hit by van in West Kelowna

The incident occurred around 5:40 p.m. near Boucherie Road

North and Central Okanagan on flood watch

Kalamalka Lake users are asked to take measure to reduce the risk… Continue reading

Okanagan-shot film “The Colour Rose” wins two cinematography awards

Locations in the Okanagan were used such as; The Casorso residence, BNA, Father Pandosy, Venture Academy and Idabel Lake Resort

Kelowna couple pedalling past loss of sight

Pauline and Jim Marshall said it’s important to be patient with each other

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Pregnant Revelstoke woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

Michelle Hunter said she felt like she was in a horror movie when she discovered she had COVID-19

Vernon chamber backs council’s opposition of downtown overdose prevention site

The chamber sent a letter to B.C.’s health minister calling for the site not to be located downtown

Princeton RCMP stop men intent on jumping off bridge

Princeton RCMP investigating a trespassing complaint arrived in time to stop two… Continue reading

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

Bird knocks out power for thousands in North Okanagan

Evening outage was brief, but affected nearly 3,000 residents

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Most Read