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News Release

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages

Expert witnesses share their visions for modernizing the Official Languages Act in Senate committee report

February 26, 2019


Ottawa – A Senate committee enlisted testimony from people across Canada who witnessed the evolution of the Official Languages Act to help determine how to bring the Act into the 21st century.

The testimony of these witnesses formed the foundation of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages’ third interim report on modernizing the act, entitled Modernizing the Official Languages Act: The Views of Stakeholders Who Have Witnessed the Evolution of the Act.

The report, released Monday, focuses on the successes, failures and shortcomings in the application of the Act since its inception in 1969. Witnesses discussed how the Act has changed in the 50 years it has been in place and how it must further evolve to meet the needs of all Canadians.

The report includes witness testimony from former community organization representatives, judges, commissioners and public servants, current politicians, researchers and representatives of the province of New Brunswick.

Senators highlight the need to implement the Act effectively and consistently. Based on the testimony and the briefs, they put forward proposals to codify certain existing practices in the Act and include new provisions in it to ensure true progress is made with respect to both official languages. Senators recognize that the Act concerns all Canadians. Therefore, its modernization must ensure the needs of the entire population are considered in a balanced way.

The committee will continue its study by consulting with experts from the justice sector and with federal institutions. A final report with recommendations to the federal government will be released later this year.

Quick Facts

  • The Official Languages Act turns 50 years old in 2019; its last major reform took place in 1988.
  • The committee has already consulted with young Canadians and official language minority communities in the first two parts of this study.
  • The committee’s next interim report will examine the Act through the views of experts from the justice sector; a final report with recommendations is expected to be completed later this year.

Quotes

“We are grateful to the witnesses for their clear, concise testimony about how the Official Languages Act should be modernized to meet the needs of all Canadians. The strong advocacy of these experienced individuals and their contribution to this study are crucial to its success.”

- Senator René Cormier, Chair of the committee.

“As the Official Languages Act turns 50 it is valuable to look back on what has worked and what must change. We look forward to continuing the study and drawing on the experiences of the committee’s witnesses to draft strong and practical recommendations for modernizing the Act.”

- Senator Rose-May Poirier, Deputy Chair of the committee.

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For more information, please contact:
Sonia Noreau
Public Relations Officer
Communications Directorate
Senate of Canada
613-614-1180 | sonia.noreau@sen.parl.gc.ca