Statement by the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada on his brief on the permanence of the Court Challenges Program through Bill C-316

For Immediate Release

News releases | Gatineau, Quebec -

Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada Raymond Théberge issued the following statement today at the tabling of his brief on Bill C-316 before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage:

“Parliamentarians are currently studying Bill C-316, which aims to ensure the permanence of the Court Challenges Program (CCP) by enshrining it in the Department of Canadian Heritage Act and to provide a framework for its implementation.

The CCP provides financial support to Canadians to enable them to bring cases of national importance before the courts to clarify and assert certain constitutional and quasi-constitutional rights relating to official languages and human rights. 

The financial assistance provided under the program has repeatedly contributed to the recognition and advancement of language rights in Canada, as well as to the vitality and development of official language minority communities.

I’d like to mention two cases among many that demonstrate just how essential it is to maintain the CCP. First, there’s the preservation of Montfort Hospital, Ontario’s only French-language hospital and the only hospital offering French-language education. Second, there’s the challenge to Bill 40, led by Quebec’s English-speaking community to guarantee the management of their school boards.

At this time, the program is not immune to possible revocation. I’d therefore like to reiterate the undeniable importance of an immutable, independently administered and transparent Court Challenges Program. 

I invite parliamentarians to lend their strong support to the Court Challenges Program. By ensuring its permanence, we are demonstrating the importance of equal access to the justice system, a value we all share. We are also stabilizing a support mechanism for the defence of language rights in this country.”