Statement from the Commissioner regarding the passage of Bill C-13 to modernize the Official Languages Act

For Immediate Release

News releases | Gatineau, Quebec -

The Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge, made the following statement following the passage of Bill C-13, entitled An Act to amend the Official Languages Act, to enact the Use of French in Federally Regulated Private Businesses Act and to make related amendments to other Acts:

"After several years of waiting, we can finally celebrate the modernization of the Official Languages Act, which has become a reality today. This important step marks the beginning of a new chapter in the history of official languages, and the modernized Act, which is more robust and better adapted to today's linguistic reality, will play a key role.

Many improvements have been made to the previous version of the Act to help me ensure better compliance and to promote the full vitality of official language minority communities. I now have at my disposal various new tools, such as compliance agreements and orders, to help me, as Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, ensure better compliance with the Act. These new tools will be implemented gradually, and my team is working to put in place the structures and determine the resources that will be needed to use these new powers as quickly as possible.

I recognize that the approach chosen by the government in C-13 is raising concerns among English-speaking Quebecers about preserving their language rights. That is why we need to continue to listen to communities and closely monitor the implementation of the modernized Act using specific performance indicators to clearly identify any issues that may arise. Given that there is an obligation to review the Act every 10 years, I’m confident that it can be adjusted to keep it in step with the changes in our linguistic reality and in Canadian society.

From now on, federal institutions must live up to the important social responsibility entrusted to them when the very first version of the Act was adopted in 1969: to offer Canadians services of equal quality in both official languages and to promote linguistic duality, one of the fundamental values on which our society is based, across the country.”

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