Backgrounder: Priorities of the Commissioner of Official Languages

 

Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge has set three main priorities for his mandate:

  • Urge federal institutions to break down the barriers that are preventing the objectives of the Official Languages Act from being met
  • Work with federal institutions and partners to ensure that the Action Plan for Official Languages achieves the expected outcomes
  • Call for the government to undertake a meaningful modernization of the Official Languages Act

Priority: Urge federal institutions to break down the barriers that are preventing the objectives of the Official Languages Act from being met

  • Federal institutions need to take responsibility for their official languages obligations so Canadians can fully exercise their language rights.
  • Official language minority communities in Canada face many challenges, including declining birth rates, aging populations, the integration of immigrants and access to health and education. These communities depend largely on government and non-governmental programs for their vitality.
  • The Commissioner wants to see results and measurable progress for official language minority communities. This requires strong leadership in federal institutions to ensure that language obligations are fully understood at all levels, that there is proper planning and that results are effectively monitored.
  • The Official Languages Maturity Model is a diagnostic tool to help federal institutions identify their strengths and weaknesses and to develop customized solutions for improvement. Knowledge is power. Once the tool becomes available, the Commissioner will encourage federal institutions to take full advantage of it to improve their official languages performance.
  • Canadians should continue to file complaints with the Office of the Commissioner to ensure that their rights under the Official Languages Act are respected and to raise awareness of those rights. Complaints are an indicator of what is happening in federal institutions and help us work with those institutions to find appropriate long-term solutions.

Priority: Work with federal institutions and partners to ensure that the Action Plan for Official Languages achieves the expected outcomes

  • The Commissioner will be monitoring implementation of the Action Plan by the federal institutions concerned and will be looking closely at the assessment of the results and how they contribute to the vitality of official language minority communities.
  • Beyond the Action Plan, each federal institution subject to the Official Languages Act needs to make a solid commitment, as part of its mandate, to take positive measures to support the development of official language minority communities and foster the recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society.

Priority: Call for the government to undertake a meaningful modernization of the Official Languages Act

  • The Official Languages Act needs to be modernized in a meaningful way by applying the following three principles: relevant legislation, dynamic legislation, and strong legislation.
  • The Commissioner wants to ensure that the modernized Act:
    • improves access to the federal justice system in English and French;
    • clarifies obligations for communicating with and providing services to the public;
    • updates and clarifies language-of-work rights and obligations in the public service;
    • comes with a regulatory framework that supports official language minority communities;
    • integrates principles of law stemming from major legal decisions that have shaped language rights since 1988;
    • is adaptable to future realities and technologies; and
    • stipulates that it undergo a regular review.
Date modified:
2018-10-18