Official Languages annual report wants fundamental language rights upheld

By Reann Fournier, Special to The Record

The Commissioner of Official Languages, Raymond Théberge, released his annual report Tuesday morning. This report provides an outline of the current state of official languages in Canada and points to a lack of respect for Canadian’s fundamental language rights. These include the right to receive services from the federal government, the right to vote and the right to receive safety-related information, such as for the COVID-19 pandemic, in their preferred official language.
According to the report, in 2019-2020 there was a 25 per cent increase in complaints to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages admissible under the Official Languages Act.
Théberge has outlined three ways that language rights are not being respected, stating that the Official Languages Act (1969) is outdated, that federal institutions are not complying with the Act, and that the government is not doing enough to promote both official languages across the country. The report outlines three solutions to address the issues.
The first recommendation is that the Prime Minister consult with his ministers to discover long-term solutions to the compliance issues that continue preventing the public from exercising their fundamental language rights and to encourage provinces and territories to identify the causes of repeated breaches of the right to safety. It has also been recommended the Prime Minister honour his commitment and begin modernizing the Official Languages Act. The last of the recommendations from the commissioner is that the PM honour the government’s commitment to ensure the ongoing promotion of the importance of linguistic duality. The report
highlighted that this is an important Canadian value and should be treated as such.
“Last year, I gave the federal government 18 recommendations for modernizing the Act by 2021, and I expect them to be given due attention. Modernizing the Official Languages Act in a meaningful way is about respecting Canadians’ fundamental language rights now and in the future,” Théberge stated in a press release.

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