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Canada's Official Languages Act Is Facing A Major Overhaul To Better Protect French

Here are the latest updates.

Contributing Writer
The Canadian flag waves in a blue sky.

The Canadian flag waves in a blue sky.

The federal government has revamped legislation that would reform Canada's Official Languages Act.

Tabled by Minister for Official Languages Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the proposed amendments to the act would see the landmark legislation modernized for the first time in over 30 years. The main points being added to the bill focus on preserving and protecting the French language, both in Quebec and in the other provinces and territories.

Under the proposed bill, the Commissioner of Official Languages would be given strengthened powers, including an ability to "impose administrative monetary penalties" on Crown corporations and federally-regulated businesses dealing with transportation services.

Canada's Francophone Immigration Policy would also get an update with the goal of upping the number of French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec.

The amended OLA would acknowledge that official-language rights are still in effect in the case of emergencies, as well.

These new measures would reinforce preexisting parts of the bill, including the recognition of French as the official language of Quebec and one of the official languages (alongside English) in New Brunswick.
Given that French is a linguistic minority throughout most of North America, the OLA would be rewritten to mention the importance of protecting and promoting French.

The French language in private businesses would further be protected by new rights and obligations.

Workers for a federally regulated company in strongly francophone regions would have the right to work in French, receive all memos and messages in French and use French-language computer systems.

"Today is a historic day for advancing the language rights of Canadians across the country," Minister Taylor said of the introduction of the bill.

"Our government made a commitment to move forward quickly to modernize the Official Languages Act, and this ambitious reform is concrete proof of that commitment. Thanks to true teamwork, we are taking an important step to achieve substantive equality of English and French."

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