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Canada's Official Languages Watchdog Saw A 189% Increase In Complaints In The Last Year

Almost 3,400 were about the language used by a public service.

Senior Editor
Flag of Canada in front of the Parliament building in Ottawa.

Flag of Canada in front of the Parliament building in Ottawa.

Canadians are clearly thinking a lot about their language rights. The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, the federal government's language watchdog, has tabled his annual report noting a whopping 189% increase in admissible complaints to his office in 2021-2022 compared to the year before.

Almost 3,400 of those complaints were about the language used by a public service.

The complete breakdown of complaints sent to the commissioner's office is as follows:

  • "3,398 concerned communications with and services to the public" (covered by Part IV of the Official Languages Act);
  • "233 were about language of work (Part V);
  • "21 involved equitable participation (Part VI);
  • "1,546 were related to the advancement of English and French (Part VII);
  • "204 were about the language requirements of positions (Part XI, section 91); and
  • "7 concerned other parts of the Act (parts I, III and IX)."

The commissioner's job is to monitor and promote the use of Canada's official languages, English and French, by the federal government and other institutions subject to the act.

In a press release, the commissioner's office said many complaints followed unspecified "events related to the lack of fluency in both official languages among senior federal officials."

"I sincerely hope that our leaders will understand the message that the Canadian public and I are sending them: Linguistic duality is a value that all Canadians share, and we need to do whatever we can to make it a real priority in Canada," Commissioner Raymond Théberge said in a statement.

His office further stated that it welcomed the tabling of a proposed update to the Official Languages Act in Parliament. If passed, Bill C-13 would empower the commissioner to impose penalties on entities that violate the act and give workers in federally regulated businesses in francophone regions the right to receive all messages in French, among other measures.

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