In summer 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, Mélanie Joly, with reviewing the Official Languages Act as a step towards its modernization.

The objective is clear: strengthen the Act so that it aligns with Canadians’ aspirations, and meets the new challenges raised by changes to Canadian society and the broader scope of government action in order to ensure that it continues to have a positive effect in the long term.

What Canadians have to say

In the passed months, we travelled the country and listened to what Canadians have to say. Five forums and several round tables were held to discuss the major issues likely to impact Canada's official languages and to identify ways to ensure their sustainability. The forums were accessible online so that more Canadians could participate.

This approach complemented the following exercises, which were already underway:

The official reports and recommendations to result from these exercises will be appended to the overall summary of national discussions.

The forums and round tables culminated with a major symposium on official languages in Ottawa on May 27 and 28, 2019, where experts in a variety of areas discussed the major issues identified during the forums. Each forum was devoted to one of the following themes:


1. Mobilization, development and vitality of official-language minority communities

Two million Canadians belong to official-language minority communities across the country. These communities are very different: some have aging populations, while others are located in urban areas and have a high mobility rate. These communities are often characterized by a slower growth rate than the overall population. Their diverse needs are a challenge for local associations dedicated to their development.

Questions for discussion:

2. Federal institutions that embody official languages

The Official Languages Act recognizes the equality of status and rights of English and French in federal institutions. It affirms the right of Canadians, in certain circumstances, to communicate with the federal government in the official language of their choice. It also gives public servants the right, in certain circumstances, to work in their preferred official language. Over time, however, the Government’s spheres of action in official languages have diversified considerably and have led to closer collaboration with associations, businesses, educational institutions and other levels of government. Questions for discussion:

3. Promotion of culture and bilingualism

Linguistic duality is one of Canada’s foundational principles, signalling the commitment of English- and French-speaking Canadians to work together for a thriving country. The Government of Canada supports second official language learning. A higher bilingualism rate also enables Canada to better respect and support official-language minority communities.

Questions for discussion:

4. Official languages and Canada’s place in the world

English and French are among the five languages most commonly spoken around the globe. English and French are the working languages of many international organizations, including the UN, NATO, the Commonwealth and the International Organization of La Francophonie. Through their international presence, English and French help strengthen Canada’s leadership, prestige and diplomatic influence in the world. French and English are two of the main languages of business and cultural production, which allow our official-language communities to play a role on the international stage.

Questions for discussion:

5. Official languages and Canada in the digital age

The Internet and social media have had a profound impact on how Canadians communicate with each other and people around the world. Access to cultural and information products, consumer goods, services and knowledge is now essential. The federal government must take full advantage of the digital shift to share and promote its languages and the cultures they promote in Canada and abroad. This is an opportunity, among other things, to identify the ways in which our society and our Government can commit to keeping the French fact alive and protecting its place in the digital world. In addition, cultural exemptions under free trade agreements and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions provide governments with tools to ensure that artists and cultural professionals receive preferential treatment for their cultural goods and services.

Questions for discussion:

Forums, round tables and major symposium

Every Canadian was invited to follow live streams of the forums held across the country.

Find out what Canadians had to say during consultations about the modernization of the Official Languages Act.

Locations Themes Dates
Moncton, New Brunswick Promotion of culture and bilingualism March 12, 2019, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Atlantic standard time)
Ottawa, Ontario Federal institutions that embody official languages March 18, 2019, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (EDT)
Sherbrooke, Quebec Official languages and Canada's place in the world April 15, 2019, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (EDT)
Edmonton, Alberta Mobilization, development and vitality of official-language minority communities April 23, 2019, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (MDT)
Vancouver, British Columbia Official languages and Canada in the digital age April 24, 2019, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (PDT)

Round tables

Round table meetings were also held with specific stakeholders across the country. The meeting dates are posted below for your information only. To share your views on the modernization of the Official Languages Act, please click on Have Your Say! below.

Locations Themes Dates
Hemmingford, Quebec Mobilization, development and vitality of official-language minority communities March 6, 2019
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia All themes March 13, 2019
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island All themes March 13, 2019
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador All themes March 14, 2019
Toronto, Ontario All themes April 10, 2019
Sudbury, Ontario All themes April 12, 2019
Winnipeg, Manitoba All themes April 16, 2019
Regina, Saskatchewan All themes April 17, 2019
Whitehorse, Yukon All themes April 25, 2019
Montreal, Quebec All themes April 26, 2019
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories All themes April 30, 2019
Iqaluit, Nunavut All themes May 3, 2019

Symposium on official languages in Ottawa, 27 and 28 May 2019

The Symposium on official languages was a unifying event where experts in a variety of areas discussed the major issues identified during the forums.

Share your comments – it's important!

Everyone has something to say to keep the Official Languages Act alive and current. Contact us to share your point of view.

Have your say!

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: