Portal for public servants
The Official Languages Act sets out broad principles with respect to official languages in the federal public service. Over the years, various policies have been implemented by the federal government in relation to the Official Languages Act in federal institutions. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada is dedicated to providing you with all the information you need on official languages.
Over 50 years ago, Parliament adopted Canada’s first Official Languages Act, which aimed to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada and to establish equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions. The Official Languages Act initially focused on service to the public, but was later broadened to include language of work within federal institutions as well as the development of official language minority communities and the promotion of linguistic duality.
The Official Languages Act reflects one of the fundamental values of Canadian society: linguistic duality. Creating an inclusive culture within federal institutions must ensure full respect for the language rights of the employees who work there and of Canadian citizens. One measure of success is how linguistic duality is perceived within an institution: not as a burden or an obligation that needs to be fulfilled, but as a value.
Quiz – 50th anniversary of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Try this quiz and test your general knowledge of the history of official languages in Canada. Good luck!
Official Languages Maturity Model
The Official Languages Maturity Model (OLMM) is an approach developed by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages that explains the principles and obligations of the Official Languages Act and makes them easier to apply. The OLMM offers a diagnostic tool to help federal institutions better identify their strengths and weaknesses and determine what they need to do to improve. It also provides a roadmap for continuous, ongoing improvement in terms of integrating official languages into the organization.
Official Languages in Canada: 150 Years of History
Browse through our timeline to discover—or rediscover—the milestones that have marked the history of linguistic duality in Canada since 1867.
Meet people who are passionate about official languages by visiting the Storytelling section of our website.
Active offer: A culture of respect, a culture of excellence
An active offer of service is an open invitation to the public to use one of our two official languages—English or French—when communicating with or receiving a service from the federal government. This active offer guide provides straightforward tips and practical checklists that will prove especially useful to employees and managers who work with the public on a regular basis. The summarized version of the active offer guide is designed to help those who work with the public on occasion.
Leaders 2.OL: A Tool for Enhancing Leadership
Being able to communicate in both official languages allows leaders to properly represent Canada and Canadians and helps them to fulfill their obligations under the Official Languages Act.
This tool provides the criteria that must be taken into account in decision-making processes for Governor in Council appointments and for positions filled via federal public service hiring processes. It will help you assess whether knowledge of both official languages is required to fulfill the duties of a position.
Effective practices for chairing bilingual meetings
In regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes, employees have the right to work and be supervised in the official language of their choice. This includes meetings in which they participate. Optimize participation of all employees by using the Effective practices for chairing bilingual meetings guide and the Take action! tool.
Self-assessment Tool: Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages
The self-assessment tool is based on the Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages that was developed using data gathered from the study published in March 2011 entitled Beyond Bilingual Meetings: Leadership Behaviours for Managers archived. Public service managers are invited to use this tool to evaluate themselves and, where needed, take action to ensure that their employees feel comfortable using their official language of choice in the workplace.
Effective language training practices—On-line tool
Language training in the federal public service has been one of the pillars of Canada’s official languages policy since the 1960s. Language training responds to the requirements of imperative staffing, enables federal employees to progress in their career towards management positions and helps them maintain their language skills. The present tool was developed as part of a study published in September 2013 entitled Challenges: The New Environment for Language Training in the Federal Public Service.
This tool was created for individuals at all levels of the federal government and allows users to create their own personalized list of effective practices simply by exploring various categories and then clicking and dragging their choices to their own language training model.
Official languages in Canada – Statistics
How many people speak English in Canada? How many French-speaking Canadians are there? How many are bilingual? The statistics section of our website is a valuable source of information.
Beyond Words is a e-newsletter featuring a wide range of topics related to official languages including arts and culture, languages of the world, current events, history and second-language learning.
The following links are provided as a public service. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada is not responsible for the content of these sites, and their views do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Commissioner. Please note that only the sites of Canadian federal institutions are subject to the Official Languages Act.
Laws and policies
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Official Languages Act (the Act)
- Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations
- Policy on Official Languages (Treasury Board)
This list includes links to the sites of Government of Canada departments and organizations that play a specific role with respect to official languages.
- Burolis - Directory of designated bilingual offices
- Regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes
- Official Languages and Parliament
- Canadian Heritage’s official languages support program
- House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages
- Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages
- Canada School of Public Service
- Canadian Heritage
- Federal Court of Canada
- Department of Justice
- Privy Council Office
- Public Service Commission of Canada
- Translation Bureau
- Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat