Canada introduces legislation to modernize Official Languages Act

Legislation marks first major modernization of Official Languages Act after more than 30 years

Canada introduces legislation to modernize Official Languages Act

The federal government has introduced legislation to promote “substantive equality” between Canada’s official languages − English and French.

Bill C-13 proposed changes to the Official Languages Act to protect both languages, address the decline of French and strengthen linguistic duality across Canada. The bill marks the first major modernization of the Act after more than 30 years.

“Our government made a commitment to move forward quickly to modernize the Official Languages Act, and this ambitious reform is concrete proof of that commitment,” Minister of Official Languages Ginette Petitpas Taylor said. “Thanks to true teamwork, we are taking an important step to achieve substantive equality of English and French.”

In particular, the bill will authorize the Commissioner of Official Languages to enter into compliance agreements with institutions regulated by the Act, issue orders, and impose administrative monetary penalties on privatized entities and Crown corporations not complying with the Act.

The bill will also provide a more detailed Francophone immigration policy to include objectives, targets, and indicators to bring more Francophone immigrants outside Quebec.

The bill will establish new requirements to promote French in federally regulated private businesses, such as postal service, banks and airlines. The new law also aims to help afford people the right to work and be served in French in these businesses across Quebec and other regions with a significant Francophone presence.

Moreover, the bill will include a preamble to the Act, stating that official-language rights apply even in emergencies and require the judiciary to release court decisions in English and French.

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