Backgrounder: Annual Report 2018–2019

The Commissioner of Official Languages’ 2018–2019 Annual Report is divided into four chapters and contains four recommendations.

Federal government’s progress

  • Commitment to modernize the Official Languages Act
  • Canada’s 2018-2020 National Action Plan on Open Government calls for improved accessibility and availability of documents in both official languages.
  • Some improvements to the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations
  • Progress on language rights with the tabling of an Indigenous languages bill.

Some systemic issues

  • The division of official languages responsibilities within the government is confusing and inefficient.
  • Basic language rights are still not being respected consistently in Canada.
    • Members of the public can’t always get service in the official language of their choice from federal institutions, even when they have the right.
    • Federal employees can’t always work in the official language of their choice in designated bilingual regions.
    • Official language minority communities aren’t always consulted or heard when the government implements new policies or changes programs.
    • Members of the public don’t always get important security information in the official language of their choice.
    • Citizens can’t always vote in the official language of their choice, even though it’s a fundamental right.

Commissioner’s recommendations

  1. The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Prime Minister table a bill on modernizing the Official Languages Act by 2021.
  2. The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that, before the end of fiscal year 2019‒2020, the Prime Minister clarify official languages roles and responsibilities in the federal government, taking into account the following five principles in order to ensure an effective official languages governance structure:
    • Establish clear direction and leadership at the most senior levels of the federal government.
    • Establish a consistent accountability framework.
    • Make official languages a top priority and a key aspect of government planning and activities.
    • Ensure effective stewardship of official languages.
    • Address setbacks while ensuring ongoing progress toward the substantive equality of official languages.
  3. The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that, when entering into agreements that directly concern official language minority communities, such as those under the Protocol for Agreements for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction, the Minister of Official Languages:
    • consider adding specific clauses that require the provinces and territories to consult with official language minority communities and to take their needs into account; and
    • clarify these language clauses and include transparency mechanisms that will enable the federal government to measure compliance by the provinces and territories.
  4. For the proposed measures and initiatives in the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018–2023: Investing in Our Future to have a tangible and meaningful impact on the development of official language minority communities, the Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Minister of Official Languages:
    • develop and publish an accountability framework by June 2020 that includes strict results assessment mechanisms for federal institutions that play a role in the action plan; and
    • take a transparent approach in setting the terms and conditions for the investments set out in the action plan.

Admissible complaints in 2018–2019

In 2018–2019, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages received 1,087 admissible complaints. The distribution of complaints by part or section of the Act is as follows:

  • 50.6%: Communications with and services to the public (Part IV)
  • 19.5%: Language of work (Part V)
  • 2.0%: Equitable participation (Part VI)
  • 1.1%: Advancement of English and French (Part VII)
  • 26.2%: Language requirements of positions (Part XI, section 91)
  • 0.6%: Other parts of the Act (Parts III and IX)

Admissible complaints over 10 years (2009–2010 to 2018–2019) by province and territory

Location of incident 2009
2010
2010
2011
2011
2012
2012
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
2016
2016
2017
2017
2018
2018
2019
Newfoundland and Labrador 11 6 11 8 18 12 14 28 16 24
Prince Edward Island 17 7 3 3 4 4 2 5 2 7
Nova Scotia 37 52 33 9 8 13 16 10 20 22
New Brunswick 43 35 36 24 31 42 41 87 51 65
Quebec 68 505 55 70 59 56 68 148 129 166
National Capital Region (Quebec) 93 57 49 49 37 64 121 92 96 156
National Capital Region (Ontario) 141 209 200 152 182 193 351 429 307 336
Ontario 956 51 77 52 75 78 58 106 124 153
Manitoba 27 10 25 20 20 13 14 13 18 11
Saskatchewan 8 3 2 2 8 16 4 6 25 14
Alberta 25 11 12 9 9 28 8 43 49 56
British Columbia 38 23 7 8 19 18 16 25 33 25
Yukon 1 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 5
Northwest Territories 2 0 1 0 1 0 2 2 4 7
Nunavut 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Outside Canada 10 8 7 9 5 12 8 23 19 40
Total 1,477Table note * 981 518 415 476 550 725 1,018 894 1,087
Date modified:
2019-05-09