Summary document: Engaging Canadians as a step towards modernizing the Official Languages Act

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Message from the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie

Fifty years ago, the federal government passed the Official Languages Act. Stemming from the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, this legislation was of fundamental importance to the country. Its objective was to recognize the equality of the status of French and English as the official languages of Canada. In addition, the Act inspired the formal recognition of linguistic rights in the country and set the stage for Anglophones and Francophones to work together for a common future in a bilingual framework.

More than 50 years have since passed and our world has changed. We need to strengthen the Act to adapt it to the realities of today. In this anniversary year, our Government reaffirms the importance of French and English, which, together with Indigenous languages, are essential to our social cohesion. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave me an important mandate to continue the implementation of the Action Plan for Official Languages, to prepare festivities for the 50th anniversary of the Act and to begin a review to modernize it.

Certain issues have underscored the need for this review: the slower growth of the Francophone population compared to the Canadian population as a whole, the stagnating bilingualism rate among the English-speaking majority outside of Quebec, and the new technology that has revolutionized communication and work environments in federal institutions, in support of an increasingly open Government. It is important that this Act, essential to our collective identity, be able to serve our citizens well and preserve its long-term positive effect.

For the past three and a half years, as Minister of Official Languages, I have personally been able to measure the impact of this Act. I have observed its importance during my visits to official language minority communities and as part of the Franco-Ontarian solidarity movement, which has had an impact across the country, including in Quebec. These events remind us that the time is right to undertake such a project.

I therefore launched a review of the Act by meeting with those most interested in its evolution: Canadians themselves. We invited people from diverse backgrounds, including committed citizens, academics and leaders of official language minority communities. This summary document is the result of this first reflection. I would like to thank all the participants for supporting this review with their stories, suggestions and innovative ideas. They will continue to guide our thinking throughout the modernization process.

At the conclusion of this exercise, I am pleased to see that the last 50 years have brought about the emergence of new generations of Canadians with a sense of pride in their official languages and an awareness that bilingualism represents an important economic, social and cultural asset. The mobilization efforts in defence of the Université de l'Ontario français is a testament to this asset. For the first time, the green and white Franco-Ontarian flag was flown at the National Assembly in Québec City.

Fifty years ago, Canadians accepted the collective responsibility to invest in the long-term flourishing of our official languages and to ensure the development of our communities. Today, another generation must continue this important work to support our official languages and face the challenges that confront them.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie

Message from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Language is a living and evolving part of our identity and history, and our languages play a central role in the strength of our diversity. In Canada, promoting knowledge and use of French and English is particularly important, given our country's unique history and culture. Bilingualism is something that I feel very strongly about and do not take for granted.

I am honoured to have taken part in the National Symposium on the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act (OLA) this past May, and to discuss some of the ways in which the Government of Canada is modernizing the OLA to ensure the vitality of French and English communities over the next 50 years and beyond.

In Canada, our official languages have a major impact on how we administer our legal system and our courts. The OLA ensures that individuals can have their day in all federal courts in the official language of their choice. It also guarantees that Parliament must adopt and publish laws and regulations in both official languages. We should be proud of the language rights in place in a variety of our institutions, like courts and tribunals.

I am also proud of our Government's recent initiatives aimed at enhancing access to justice in both official languages. Bill C-78, enacted into law on June 21, 2019, provides a right to access family justice in the official language of one's choice throughout the country. Toward that end, Budget 2019 provides the Department of Justice with $21.6 million over five years, starting in 2020-21, to work with the provinces and territories to implement this right. Budget 2019 also includes investments of $8.5 million over five years to strengthen the capacity to translate federal judgments. This is without counting the $10 million over five years announced in Budget 2018 for the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund. The Court Challenges Program was also reinstated, the objective of which is to provide individuals and groups in Canada with the financial support they need to bring cases of national significance related to constitutional and quasi-constitutional official language and human rights before the courts.

The modernization work we have done in partnership with communities is only the beginning. I look forward to continue working closely with Minister Joly on this file in the coming months.

In addition to supporting official languages, our Government understands the need to protect, support and promote Indigenous languages across Canada. C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, is an important step forward in that regard.

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Message from the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government

As the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, I am pleased to introduce this report on the consultations on the Official Languages Act.

The Treasury Board is responsible for several parts of the Official Languages Act, including Part IV, "Communications with and Services to the Public." In an effort to better serve Canadians in the official language of their choice, the Treasury Board Secretariat presided over a review of the regulations governing Part IV of the Act. Extensive consultations with Canadians and other stakeholders were a hallmark of this review.

The result has been amended regulations that we believe better reflect the expectations of Canadians today, especially those in official language minority communities. We look forward to the adoption of these amendments this summer.

In the 50th year of the Official Languages Act, Canadians have had the opportunity, through consultations, to help modernize the Act for the future. I want to thank everyone who provided their ideas during the many activities held across the country to mark this important anniversary.

Canada's two official languages communities are at the heart of our national identity, and their full participation in government and society has strengthened who we are as a country and what we stand for in the world.

The Honourable Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P.
President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government

1. Mandate to review the Official Languages Act

Adopted in 1969, the Official Languages Act (the Act) is a quasi-constitutional piece of legislation that made Canada an officially bilingual country. The 50th anniversary of the Act is an opportunity to examine the future of our official languages.

The Government of Canada is committed to promoting English and French, our two official languages, as well as the vitality of official language minority communities across the country.

In the summer of 2018, the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, gave the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, the mandate to begin a review to modernize the Official Languages Act.

2. Engaging Canadians

In response to this mandate, Minister Joly set out to meet with Canadians. From March to May of 2019, nearly 1,500 Canadians from across the country participated in the discussions. Canadians from all walks of life, ranging from community leaders to academics to interested citizens, were invited to participate in approximately 20 community engagement events on the modernization of the Act.

These discussions allowed us to learn about the issues that are important to Canadians and their proposals to advance our two official languages both at home and abroad.

This national conversation culminated in an historic event, a national symposium at the end of May, where nearly 500 people gathered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to highlight past achievements, strategize about the future and celebrate our two official languages.

In order to meet directly with Canadians, one town hall, five forums, twelve round tables and a symposium were held. Canadians were also invited to participate and share their comments by webcast and by email.

The testimonials received were the reflection of inspiring field experiences and histories marked by both official languages. Experts provided us with thoughtful observations. Official language minority communities as well as majority groups working for second-language learning presented thoughtful and considered suggestions. Canadians from across the country, of all backgrounds, ages and walks of life have made this exercise a true reflection of Canada's diversity, values and aspirations. Table 1 presents the list of events by city.

Table 1 — List of events by city
Event City
Round table Hemmingford, Quebec
Townhall Ottawa, Ontario
Forum Moncton, New Brunswick
Round table Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Round table Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Round table St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Forum Ottawa, Ontario
Round table Toronto, Ontario
Round table Sudbury, Ontario
Forum Sherbrooke, Quebec
Round table Winnipeg, Manitoba
Round table Regina, Saskatchewan
Forum Edmonton, Alberta
Forum Vancouver, British Columbia
Round table Whitehorse, Yukon
Round table Montreal, Quebec
Round table Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Round table Iqaluit, Nunavut
Symposium Ottawa, Ontario

3. Impacts of the Act on Canadian society and challenges for the future

Thanks to the Act, our two official languages are alive and well across the country. The Act is not only a law, it is also a reflection of strong Canadian values and constitutes a pillar of the Canadian identity, both for us and in the eyes of the world.

The Act has brought about important changes in Canadian society. In fact, the rate of bilingualism in the country has increased by 50% since the adoption of the first Act. A record number of young Canadians—2.4 million—are studying English or French as a second language. In total, 84% of Canadians support the objectives of the Act, including 82% of Albertans, 86% of Atlantic Canadians and 93% of Quebecers.

Despite these remarkable advances, some challenges persist. In recent decades, the demographic weight of Canadians living in official language minority communities has declined. Projections from Statistics Canada suggest that only 3% of the population outside Quebec will have French as a first official language spoken by 2036. Official language minority communities have aging populations that will require the availability of new services in their language.

For Quebec's English-speaking communities, the challenges are different, but very real. Youth in these communities have some of the highest postsecondary graduation and bilingualism rates in the country. However, many feel that their identity is neither valued nor understood, and they aim to preserve their institutions.

4. The Government of Canada's actions on official languages

This review of the Act is part of a series of concrete Government actions to support our official languages, our official language minority communities and bilingualism in Canada more broadly. These actions have been taken by federal institutions, often in a spirit of interministerial collaboration. A summary of actions taken is presented in table 2.

Table 2 — List of actions taken for official languages

5. Consultations conducted by other federal entities

Several federal entities met with Canadians to hear their visions for our official languages. The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages undertook a study to examine the Canadians’ perspectives on modernizing the Act. The Committee heard from over three hundred witnesses, and many interveners filed briefs with specific recommendations. The final report contains specific recommendations for amendments to the Act.

The Standing Committee on Official Languages of the House of Commons has also undertaken a study on the modernization of the Act, and its final report was made available on June 19, 2019. On May 9, 2019, the Commissioner of Official Languages released a document containing a series of recommendations for the modernization of the Act.

These contributions and recommendations will be analyzed and considered as part of the broader review. Links to these reports are provided in Annex 1. However, this summary focuses solely on the Government's approach, including the comments heard during the round tables, forums and symposium, as well as proposals communicated directly to the Government.

6. Summary of the discussions

This summary document presents an overview of the discussions and provides food for thought for a modernized Act. In addition to an overview of the proposals heard, grouped by theme, a more detailed compilation of these suggestions can be found in Annex 2. A list of the organizations that participated in the review is presented in Annex 3.

Quote: “The Official Languages Act is of fundamental importance to the country and must be able to serve Canadians well and reflect their needs.”

- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie

Canadians were invited to provide their comments or suggestions in person at the forums and round tables, via webcast or by email, on five key themes concerning the future of our official languages:

  1. The mobilization, development and vitality of official language minority communities
  2. Federal institutions that embody official languages
  3. The promotion of culture and bilingualism
  4. Official languages and Canada's place in the world
  5. Official languages and Canada in the digital age

Regional perspectives

Some regional trends were observed. The very first round table was held in Hemmingford, Quebec, where the focus was on protecting the identity of English-speaking Quebecers and ensuring transparency in transfers of funds between levels of government.

In the Atlantic Provinces, the focus was on the importance of education for the transmission of language and culture.

Francophone immigration was discussed at all the round tables in Ontario, and participants expressed difficulties in accessing government services, conducting job searches and receiving health services in French. They also raised the importance of being recognized as "Francophone" in the national census.

In the Prairies, the importance of taking into account the differences between communities in the implementation of the Act was emphasized.

While in the West and the North, technology and the need to have an Act tailored to northern realities were addressed. In Iqaluit, Nunavut, where English and French are minority languages, the issue of recognizing Inuktut was raised.

Quote: "In order for linguistic duality to work, in order for the concept of equality of status which is contained in section 16 of the Charter, to work, there must be a vision of national leaders and the official languages institutions to pay proper heed to that so that English-speaking Quebec is seen as reflected in those mechanisms."

- Stephen Thompson, Director, Government Relations, Policy and Research, Quebec Community Groups Network

As noted earlier, numerous proposals were received. For the purpose of this summary, and to facilitate reading, we have selected the main proposals and grouped them by theme, along with the substance of each forum.

Theme 1: The mobilization, development and vitality of official language minority communities

Two million Canadians live in official language minority communities spread out across all of Canada’s provinces and territories, specifically, one million Francophones outside Quebec and one million English-speaking Quebecers. Although these populations are larger than ever before, their relative weight—often presented in relation to the total population of the province or territory in which they live—is also the lowest it has ever been, as they have a slower growth rate than the Canadian population overall.

The challenges differ from one community to another. Acadians in New Brunswick experience the unique situation of being part of a linguistic minority at the national level while also living in an officially bilingual province—the only one in Canada. English-speaking Quebecers are confronted with different challenges depending on whether they are in the Montreal area, elsewhere in the province, or part of a visible minority group. The situation differs between communities of Canadians who live near the American border and those who live in Arctic regions. In all cases, the community organizations that represent them have achieved successes and faced challenges, and are calling on the federal government, as well as their respective provincial and territorial governments, to support them.

The forum on this theme was held in Edmonton, Alberta, on April 23, 2019. The panellists were:

This theme was important to many participants and it was discussed at every round table and forum.

The Act is seen as a success that needs to be improved. It was highlighted that the promotion of our official languages and the vitality of official language minority communities is done through education. It was also stated that we need to rethink the role of the CBC/Radio-Canada in order to encourage more local content.

The role that the Government of Canada must play in implementing Part VII of the Act was discussed, and two important elements were highlighted. First, it was suggested that consultations carried out by federal institutions with official language minority communities must be mandatory, effective and open. Second, it was mentioned that the government that is closest to the target population is best suited to serving them properly.

The concept of a global mindset quickly led to discussion on the economic potential of official languages. For the panellists, these questions concern all Canadians and illustrate the added value of French in Canada and of a bilingual labour force to the Canadian economy. A call centre in Moncton was given as an example. Bilingualism presents economic opportunities at the community, national, and international levels.

The panel also discussed postsecondary education. A direct link was made between postsecondary education and the economy. Certain participants highlighted that we must stop seeing federal-provincial-territorial transfers in education as a cost, but rather see them as an investment. It was specified that these transfers should contain executive language clauses, and the provinces and territories should be held more accountable for their use of these funds.

Access to education in one's own language is a priority for official language minority communities. Demand for these programs is growing. Many Canadians we met with said that access to education should also be available from early childhood to postsecondary. Some even called for the introduction of a new right to ensure that every Canadian who so desires has access to learning programs in their second official language. In some provinces, it was noted that to preserve their school infrastructure, communities would undoubtedly need to rely on support from the Court Challenges Program.

Access to education was also discussed from the perspective of targeting school clientele and teaching resources. It was suggested that methods be reviewed to more precisely count the number of individuals entitled to minority language education under the Charter. Governments were urged to work together to address the challenges posed by the teacher shortage in Francophone minority schools and for French as a second language and early childhood.

Linguistic security was also presented as an undeniable issue on the ground. Beyond the need to regain a certain pride in speaking French, there was discussion about the insecurity felt by many speakers in a minority environment about not speaking a more proper, academic French. For many, this is a question that requires further study. This theme was widely discussed in the other 16 events held across the country.

Both levels of governments offer programs and services that promote the development of official language minority communities. However, some areas essential to the vitality of these communities are under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, such as education, health, early childhood and justice, or are shared responsibilities, such as immigration. Several federal institutions therefore support the development of official language minority communities by transferring funds to provincial and territorial governments through agreements. Community stakeholders suggested that both levels of government agree on a core set of services, based on their importance to community vitality, to be offered across all provinces and territories. Some participants called for municipal governments to be included in this pooling of actions intended to support official language minority communities.

Quote: "English-speaking Quebecers are not worried about losing their language but worry about their sense of identity and visibility."

- Sylvia Martin-Laforge, Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network

The question of minorities within official language minority communities was raised multiple times. Emphasis was placed on the importance of recognizing that there are multiple minorities within official language minority communities, such as visible minorities, who have different realities and who add to the richness of our diversity.

Quote: "We happen to be double minorities […] and our unemployment rates are related both to our colour and to the language that we speak. And we don't think that under the Official Languages Act, that issue has been addressed well enough […]"

- Linton Garner, Regional Association of West Quebecers

Several stakeholders identified the need to clarify the notion of "positive measures" by amending the text of the Act or by adopting regulations related to Part VII. A definition does not currently exist in the Act. Since positive measures were introduced into the text of the Act in 2005, it has been noted that several federal institutions have had difficulties in identifying the best actions to be taken to support the vitality of official language minority communities. Several participants suggested including an obligation in the Act for all federal institutions to consult official language minority communities to help them identify or review these positive measures. This would first require a shared understanding of what is meant by consultation.

For some, the current Act is written for official language minority communities. A new version could use a more engaging choice of words for the entire Canadian population that presents our official languages more clearly as a shared value.

Quote: “We must redefine the category of “francophone” to make it truly united and international.”

- Srilata Ravi, Full Professor, University of Alberta, Campus Saint-Jean

Multiple stakeholders across Canada suggested that a paragraph be added to strengthen the authority of the Minister responsible for the implementation of Part VII of the Act. It was noted that the language is not as strong, compared to what is expected of the Minister responsible for Parts IV, V and VI. A request was made for the Minister responsible for Part VII to be given the ability to monitor, evaluate, make recommendations and even require corrective measures.

The need to move from ambitious targets to clear actions that will favour Francophone immigration in Francophone minority communities was discussed. This would promote welcoming and retaining Francophones from all over the world who contribute to the goal of maintaining the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities.

The situation of official language minority community media, both radio and written, was also discussed. For official language minority communities, the goal is to preserve the influence of what is often their main voice in public affairs.

Theme 2: Federal institutions that embody official languages

All federal institutions are subject to the Government of Canada's commitment to enhance the vitality of Canada's official language minority communities and to promote our two official languages. They also have a duty, where required by the Act, to communicate with members of the public in the official language of their choice and to foster a workplace where public servants can work in the official language of their choice.

Quote: “Linguistic duality is a fundamental value of the Public Service of Canada.”

- Patrick Borbey, President of the Public Service Commission of Canada

Because of the nature of their activities, some institutions find it easier than others to fulfill this commitment. Some have developed an organizational culture that takes both official languages into account. Others however, are required to safeguard this commitment through their financial partnerships with third parties, including provincial or community stakeholders. Technological evolution has contributed to the upheaval of the workplace and to changing the work tools for these institutions. For example, the use of easily accessible Web pages in both official languages has encouraged communication with members of the public in the language of their choice. However, increased use of technology, such as virtual meetings, now poses new challenges in terms of language of work.

The forum on this theme was held in Ottawa, Ontario, on March 18, 2019. The guest panellists were:

The panellists' presentations set the tone for the day's theme: diversity is expressed through French and English in Canada, and our federal institutions must embody our two official languages. It was suggested that an "Anglophone and Francophone lens," or even a language-based comparative analysis, inspired by the gender-based analysis which is a well-established practice in the federal government, be introduced. This would make it possible to evaluate how the policies, programs, or initiatives of federal institutions might impact official language minority communities.

It was also suggested that the Act could make it mandatory to adopt positive measures, similar to Part VII, to make it possible for federal public servants to work in the official language of their choice. For example, Part V of the Act could require bilingualism at the time of hiring for supervisory positions and all positions held by public servants who interact with the public. This suggestion directly echoes the implementation of the recommendations of the Borbey-Mendelsohn Report, which was widely cited in the discussions.

The importance of adapting the Act based on new technology and today's digital environment was then discussed. This echoed other comments that reiterated the importance of technology. This should be part of a reflection on its use to strengthen our official languages: the right of public servants to work in the language of their choice, the availability of services and the promotion of both official languages.

As part of the modernization of the Act, the role of federal institutions must be given consideration. Panellists reminded us that the review the Act is a good opportunity to work toward implementing the recommendations of the Borbey-Mendelsohn Report. The recommendations are primarily intended to make the federal public service workplace an environment where our official languages are fully protected for the benefit of Canadian society.

Similarly, many stakeholders called for the Commissioner of Official Languages to have more powers. Some recommended that the Commissioner be able to penalize, with fines for example, federal institutions that fail to comply with the Act. These suggestions are in line with those called for by the Commissioner himself.

Quote: "My vision for modernization, which is based on the principles of a relevant, dynamic and strong Act, is that the Commissioner needs more tools to be able to carry out its mandate more effectively. Ultimately, however, it is still up to federal institutions to meet their obligations."

- Raymond Théberge, Modernizing the Official Languages Act: The Commissioner of Official Languages' Recommendations for an Act that is Relevant, Dynamic and Strong: 2019

Other participants would like the Commissioner to have the power to refer these cases to a tribunal. Certain interveners proposed to create a new administrative tribunal for official languages.

Some suggested that a single minister should be responsible for the implementation of the Act as a whole. For others, the implementation of all parts of the Act should be entrusted to a single central agency, including a horizontal coordination and accountability role. While some believe that the Treasury Board Secretariat is the best-placed institution to carry out this task, others believe the Privy Council Office should be responsible. With respect to the creation of a new central agency for official languages or the strengthening of existing accountabilities, stakeholders believe the mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Act must be stronger.

The bilingualism of Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada is often mentioned as an issue to be explored during the modernization of the Act. This point was raised in particular by representatives of Francophone minority communities, particularly in Charlottetown and Regina, where these communities want the Act to guarantee that bilingual Justices will be appointed to Canada's highest court.

The designation of bilingual regions was also discussed. Several members of official language minority communities requested that all of Canada be designated as bilingual, to facilitate access to services in both official languages and to make it possible for all federal employees to work in the language of their choice. The situation of Canadians who are on the move was also raised, because depending on whether or not they find themselves in a region designated as bilingual, they may gain—or lose—their language rights. The question of adequate services for Canadians also arose in relation to air travel.

Quote: "The fact that services are available in French must be made very clear."

- Michel Bastarache, Supreme Court of Canada Justice from 1997 to 2008

Among the suggestions made on this theme there is a clear message: federal institutions play a key role in official languages in Canada. To ensure the implementation of a modernized Act, the governance of federal institutions needs to be reviewed. It will also be necessary to study the coherence between the different federal legislations. The example often cited is the overlap between the Act and the Broadcasting Act, which merits further examination.

Theme 3: Promotion of culture and bilingualism

Our official languages are more than just means of communication; they are channels for our cultures. Canadian institutions, such as the CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Film Board, support our artists and give them a voice, in English and in French. The Government of Canada also supports our official languages by supporting second-language learning.

Quote: “The new Act should have a section to protect access to second language learning.”

– Sharon Lapkin, Canadian Parents for French

This theme raised questions about mutual connection and understanding, whether through bilingualism or through relationships between minorities and majorities. English-speaking communities are a minority in Quebec, but a majority across the rest of the country. Bilingualism rates differ from one community to another. While official language minority communities have a significantly higher rate of bilingualism than the national average, according to 2016 figures (85.2% among Francophones outside of Quebec and 68.8% among Anglophones in Quebec), Francophone Quebecers are much more bilingual (40.2%) than Anglophones outside of Quebec (7.3%). As a result, the national bilingualism rate is 17.9%.

The forum on this theme was held in Moncton, New Brunswick, on March 12, 2019. The panellists who facilitated the discussions were:

During these discussions, the promotion of official languages was raised as an essential aspect of strengthening the Act. Promotion is a way of raising awareness, and this awareness-building starts with education and support to culture.

It was also reiterated that the protection and promotion of official language minority communities is, first and foremost, a cultural project that Canadian society has embraced. Among other things, it was suggested that the preamble to the Act should specify that arts and culture are essential to the vitality of these communities and should address the importance of protecting Canadian cultural institutions.

It was submitted the preamble of a modernized Act should be clearly stated using specific and precise terms, as well as include a definition of the Act's quasi-constitutional status. The preamble could also state the need for a liberal and progressive interpretation of the Act, to avoid potentially restrictive interpretations. With respect to the justice system, the Act could require that judges sitting on the Supreme Court of Canada be bilingual and that translations of federal court decisions be provided.

A suggestion was made to review the oversight mechanisms provided for in the Act by strengthening the powers of the Commissioner of Official Languages, clarifying federal institutions' obligations under Part VII and reviewing how the Act is governed. These reviews would seek to further promote substantive equality between the two languages.

Quote: "It's not just a matter of learning English or learning French; it's a matter, through language, of discovering the other community, of interacting."

- Yvon Lapierre, Mayor of Dieppe

Stakeholders also raised the importance of considering measures to promote a bilingual City of Ottawa, in its capacity as the national capital, during the modernization process.

For many, the Government must focus more on technology to promote Canada's bilingual character. We have new technological tools at our disposal that could strengthen cultural awareness and understanding between our majority and minority official language communities.

As this theme was discussed, we heard that promotional campaigns could better speak to all Canadians by highlighting our communities' rich cultures and different ways of experiencing language.

Theme 4: Official languages and Canada's place in the world

English and French remain among the five most widely spoken languages in the world. They are commonly used in major international organizations, such as the United Nations. Our two official languages make Canada an influential member in two major international linguistic spheres, the Commonwealth and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Globalization, characterized by increased communication, trade and travel, presents opportunities and challenges for Canada. While English is thriving on the Internet, French occupies only a tiny portion of accessible digital content. Meanwhile, the largest population growth this century is expected in Africa and will be largely Francophone, representing an important market for French-language content.

As Canada has welcomed an increasingly diverse immigrant population, its official languages coexist with other languages. Learning both official languages represents a valuable tool for integration.

The forum on this theme was held in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on April 15, 2019. The panel consisted of:

Today's world is very different from the world of 50 years ago, and this transformation was at the foundation of our discussions on this theme. As society changes, it is in everyone's interest to see our laws adapt to our evolving needs.

The Act contains very few references to the topic of Canadian diplomacy and the place of bilingualism in the context of foreign affairs. Some suggested that Canadian leadership in official languages on the international scene and the role of the minister responsible for a Francophonie be enshrined in the Act. Canada's international image was raised as a key issue. If Canada wishes to promote bilingualism and the use of official languages, our representatives abroad must embody these values. Diplomats, ambassadors, embassy employees and federal ministers must therefore be representatives and defenders of our official languages. The Act could also address this topic of international diplomacy and set out obligations for Canadian representatives abroad.

The possibility of giving a greater diplomatic role to the Commissioner of Official Languages was also suggested. Moreover, a strong Canadian presence as a Francophone country in the international arena must include a more active role in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Quote: "Why have we never appointed a French-Canadian diplomat to London and an English Canadian to Paris? Sending an articulate bilingual diplomat to the other capital would in itself be a strong message of Canadian linguistic duality."

- Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada from 2006 to 2016

Given the anticipated demographic growth in Africa, participants highlighted that it is essential to reconnect with the African Francophonie and reopen embassies in Africa. It was also pointed out that some non-Francophone countries are nevertheless committed to the worldwide Francophonie and promote French internationally by using it in their diplomatic relations.

Our theme on Canada's place in the world is also linked to culture, which is an important vector of identity. As such, organizations working in the cultural sector and artists from both linguistic majority and minority communities are good international ambassadors. They are spokespersons who can promote Canada by presenting their works in English and French.

Forum participants sought to link Canada's international role to community realities in Canada. According to these participants, if English and French are to be levers on the international stage, it is essential for our two official languages to first be well-defendedin Canada. In particular, this concern was expressed in relation to the impact of the Gascon ruling in British Columbia, which generated considerable comments from panellists and participants. The Government was called upon to clearly define Part VII and provide a regulatory framework to guide its implementation.

Immigration was also discussed. The welcoming capacity of official language minority communities was reiterated, as well as the commitment of immigrants to the values associated with our official languages. Immigrants are seen as important informal ambassadors for bilingualism and official languages in Canada. It was noted that there may be some misinformation about Canada's linguistic situation when recruiting immigrants. Newcomers have a perception of a bilingual country, but do not end up in a fully bilingual environment in their host communiFTukimuaty. It is therefore important to enhance understanding of Canada's linguistic environment in order to avoid disappointment.

Quote: "This immigrant community on which so much weight has been placed […] came to Canada based on a huge misunderstanding. It's this idea that, effectively, the country is actually bilingual and that, therefore, they will be able to live in French, and that's not the reality. And it creates problems every day; it also creates great opportunities."

- Fayza Abdallaou, advocate and founder of Next Level Impact Consulting

Participants also discussed the possibility that digital technology should be better used to strengthen our ties with the other member states of the international Francophonie. It was also pointed out that official language minority communities would like a greater role internationally and that more could be done to raise their international profile. One suggestion put forth was to encourage agreements between postsecondary institutions in official language minority communities and institutions abroad.

In short, the world has changed, and reflection on the modernization of the Act must include elements of the rapidly changing international and technological environments.

Theme 5: Official languages and Canada in the digital age

Digital technologies influence our daily communications and, in so doing, our relationships with others. Technology facilitates the distribution of our artistic creations and our cultural productions, as well as trade in goods and services.

This theme required us to look to the future, and to consider the state of Canada's official languages in 2069, 50 years from now.

The forum on this theme was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, on April 24, 2019. The panellists in attendance were:

This forum provided an opportunity to examine the potential positive effects of digital technology on our official languages. The discussion opened by addressing the issue of access to Canadian products in a digital environment and raising the need for official language minority communities to seize the opportunities offered by this new environment.

For some, the issue goes beyond official languages to include concerns about cultural diversity in the digital age, in which the intervention of public authorities becomes essential. The adoption of radio quotas some decades ago was given as an example because of the structural impact it had on the radio community.

A better use of digital technology is needed to address the challenges posed by the digital environment. For example, the online publication of Francophone artistic works or products is not enough. Actions must be taken to promote the "discoverability" of products. As it stands, the Internet's offerings are nearly endless and on a global scale. Some web-browser algorithms suggest the most popular products, thus perpetuating an unconscious cultural bias induced by mass data. How can we help Internet users discover the artistic and cultural productions of official language minority communities? Discussions on digital technology also led to reflection on access to and quality of translation.

The Act is more than just a law; it represents a vision for society. Therefore, the next version should work more explicitly to promote the vitality of official language minority communities. This raises the question of how to better measure this vitality—a question requiring further research.

The importance of regional content in the CBC/Radio-Canada news coverage was echoed by several participants. It was suggested that the organization ensures that its Board of Directors reflects Canada's regional diversity.

Quote: "It's a great feeling to hear our accent on the news!"

- Justin Johnson, Vice-President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, and Chief Executive Officer, Association des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba

A belief was also expressed that the challenges of the digital age could be better understood by introducing "another language" into the debate, that of computer coding. Since new technologies are costly, without necessarily making our lives easier, a better use of them is needed.

The need to bring Francophone minority communities and Quebec closer together was reiterated, particularly on the issue of access to French-language productions from Quebec. A suggestion was made to see the French fact as a national issue in order to break the isolation of official language minority communities.

Participants questioned whether the instinct to control the Internet is targeting the right priority and whether decision-making could be more efficient: the Internet cannot be regulated, but Internet broadcasting can be. In the future, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) could have a role to play in this respect.

The importance of community radio was reiterated, as it nurtures talent and is of crucial importance to the radio ecosystem. Moreover, it has the power to act on linguistic security. Certain participants suggested that radio stations in Western Canada be required to devote part of their programming to the French language. A link was also made to immersion programs, where students, a population overlooked by the media, seek opportunities to practice their second official language, particularly through access to content.

In addition, access to content, both cultural and health services-related, requires access to technology and an Internet network. For the panellists, these access issues are of utmost importance and represent a challenge for communities that are not yet connected to high-speed Internet. Participants were clear: the digital environment is an opportunity that facilitates an active offer of services in both official languages and makes it possible for that offer to be made across the country.

The digital environment could also contribute to raising the level of bilingualism among Canadians by promoting the development of tools and practices that make learning your second official language easier. As such, participants recommended that young people be better integrated into discussions on the digital world and official languages, applying their insights to uncovering promising new directions.

Stakeholders proposed to extend the scope of the Act to include a right of access to culture in one's language. It was also suggested that, in the future, more federal institutions be required to do their part to defend what has been achieved. As part of this discussion, focus turned to the CBC/Radio-Canada, whose strong presence as a federal entity in the digital world could allow it to play a larger role.

Symposium on the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act

The tour of forums and round tables culminated in a major symposium on official languages held at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on May 27 and 28, 2019. It was a high point that brought together nearly 500 participants working in the area of official languages, including official-language minority community organizations, researchers and lawyers, parliamentarians, young people, representatives of provincial and territorial governments, and representatives of federal institutions. The event was attended by Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council, and the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

This symposium provided a rare opportunity for the country's key stakeholders, Anglophone and Francophone, to gather in one place to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Act, take stock of the progress made in half a century, and discuss future prospects as part of the extensive reflection on the modernization of the Act.

The program for the two-day event was divided into five blocks inspired by the main themes of the forums and round tables. Each of the blocks offered workshop discussions on specific topics or issues such as the legislative and historical evolution of official languages, the Court Challenges Program, services to communities, official languages governance, judicial proceedings, media in the digital age, innovation projects, a digital Francophonie and the integration of newcomers and youth.

In light of everything we heard during the two days of the symposium, five broad areas of consensus emerged:

  1. The importance of including and raising awareness among linguistic majorities;
  2. The impact of official languages on our individual experiences;
  3. The value of Indigenous languages;
  4. Technology's potential to drive innovation; and
  5. The place of culture in the Act.

Although these areas of consensus do not cover all the richness of the participants' exchanges, they emerged as common points in the discussions and workshops. They reflect the priorities of the panellists and participants.

The importance of including and raising awareness among linguistic majorities

The Charter and the Act are full of concepts and values that reflect an inclusive vision for official languages in Canada. They cover individual rights, community development and obligations of federal institutions, all of which aim to have an impact on Canadian society as a whole. The evolution of the Act in the last 50 years confirms the continued progressive realization of this vision.

At the symposium, the point was made that discussions on official languages should be open to a greater number of Canadians. The Act concerns all Canadians, and it is important to avoid being caught up in debates for insiders only. In various workshops, participants reiterated the need for the next Act to include linguistic majorities. Indeed, linguistic majorities were central to the adoption of the Act in 1969. By declaring the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society, two major linguistic communities, English and French, were equipped to coexist peacefully.

Quote: "The Official Languages Act, for me, even though I was not born in Canada, is not an Act for Francophones, it's an Act for all Canadians."

- Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, Director General, Société Saint-Thomas-D'Aquin

The impact of official languages on our individual experiences

The symposium workshops made it possible to measure the impact of the Act on the daily lives of Canadians. While in the 1960s, Canadians advocated the adoption of English and French as official languages, the collective mindset has since shifted. After 50 years of official languages, Canadians' individual experiences are now shaped by the linguistic framework in which they live.

The personal testimonies offered were useful in illustrating broader phenomena. Christopher Curtis, a journalist with the Montreal Gazette, told a touching story about his youth, in Quebec, where he was an Anglophone in a Francophone majority school system. Sue Duguay, spoke eloquently about the "bilingual" identity of young people from exogamous families, who are often asked to make a dichotomous choice between an Anglophone and Francophone identity. Given the quality and diversity of the panels, it is easy to imagine a Canada that will produce a growing number of future leaders committed to official languages.

Technology's potential to drive innovation

Consensus emerged on the need to update our linguistic framework to take into account technological changes. As technology will continue to evolve, the Act must be technologically neutral. To remain relevant in a world of constant progress, the Act must be able to adapt to advances, innovations and new technologies.

Youth representatives impressed participants with demonstrations of marathon programming projects, known as "hackathons." These initiatives demonstrated how applications developed by programmers could be used effectively to innovate and optimize our processes and services in official languages. It will now be necessary to take advantage of technological advances to preserve the full relevance of official languages in Canada.

It is in this innovative context that the new program for learning and maintaining both official languages, "the Mauril," was introduced to the public by Minister Joly. Named in honour of Mauril Bélanger, former Member of Parliament for Ottawa–Vanier and a strong supporter of official languages, this digital program will provide Canadians with free access to an environment where they can learn their second official language based on entirely Canadian content. Available in 2020, this technology developed by the CBC/Radio-Canada will contribute to increasing the bilingualism rate among Canadians.

The place of culture in the Act

Language is a communication tool. It is imperative that all Canadians be able to communicate with the federal government in English and French. While the topic of communication with and services to the public continues to inform discussions, it was clear to the participants at the symposium that cultural issues must have a greater role in the debate.

Several participants also pointed out that language provides access to the other's culture, and that the other's culture is a driving force to learn their language.

Quote: "In a world where globalization is part of our day-to-day business, where American culture plays a significant role, we must strike a balance between the things that are more popular all over the world and the richness of our communities."

- Sue Duguay, President, Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française

Several people remarked that the current text of the Act does not refer to Canadian cultures, and that the Act deals with language and bilingualism only as means for communication.

The value of Indigenous languages

Over the course of the symposium's many activities, another issue concerning Canada's linguistic heritage continued to be raised: the preservation of Indigenous languages. Several participants proposed to broaden the reflection on our linguistic framework to include the languages of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Several participants mentioned that Indigenous languages are part of our linguistic heritage, that they have an important place in our collective history and that they must be promoted. In this age of reconciliation, a modernized Act must recognize the importance and richness of the languages of Canada's Indigenous Peoples. Several participants also reiterated our duty to recognize this heritage, which has long been suppressed. Indeed, on June 21, 2019, the Indigenous Languages Act, which is intended to support the reclamation, revitalization, maintaining and strengthening of Indigenous languages in Canada, received Royal Assent.

Thus, a modernized Act could acknowledge in its preamble, as suggested by several participants, that Indigenous languages were the first languages used in Canada and that they play an important role in our country's development.

Review the vision and objectives

During the two-day symposium, we were able to expand on the reflection begun during the forums and round tables. Some very specific issues, including the governance of federal institutions, were debated, including which institution would be best placed to strengthen governance and government coordination. This discussion is ongoing.

Many participants called for the reflection to move beyond technical or organizational issues and return to the Act's fundamentals: its vision and objectives. Canadians' hopes, experiences and circumstances have changed over the last 50 years. Participants highlighted that it is important to reconsider the objectives of the Act. The vision it implements must align with the aspirations of Canadians.

Quote: "We need to celebrate our language, our languages and our accents, our differences, our values. A modernized Act should enable us to dream together, young and less young, to protect our language rights, to promote our values, these same values that unite us and that are central to this blueprint for our society, at the heart of our communities."

- Martin Théberge, President, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française

7. Conclusion

The work to modernize the Act has only just begun, but as this summary illustrates, the process of reflection is well under way. The various proposals submitted, which include both changes to the current text and the addition of new items, allow for a broad and inclusive discussion.

The consensus emerging from these pan-Canadian meetings is clear: Canadians want and expect the Act to be modernized. On the one hand, this modernization must aim to protect what has been achieved. On the other hand, it must address issues such as clarifying federal institutions' obligations and considering official language minority communities' specific circumstances in order to ensure that their vitality is supported with the most constructive actions possible. Canadians are concerned about defending French in Canada and are also interested in including linguistic majorities in the modernization exercise. The federal government is being asked to adapt the Act to the changes that have marked Canadian society in recent decades, including taking into account new realities such as digital technology.

As a next step in the Act's review, we will consider written proposals provided by various individuals and stakeholder groups. We will consider the recommendations made in various reports, including those made in the reports of the Senate and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Key players in the federal government such as Canadian Heritage, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Privy Council Office and the Department of Justice Canada will be consulted. The legal, administrative, and financial impacts of the submitted proposals on all federal institutions will also need to be examined.

Provinces and territories will also be consulted. Intergovernmental collaboration is a valuable asset. It has been nurtured and developed over decades, particularly in priority areas for Canadians such as second-language learning. Provinces and territories have been invited to submit their proposals for a modernized Act, in addition to intergovernmental discussions that will take place in the context of the 2019 Canadian Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie.

For many, this review was long overdue and the modernization of the Act remains an essential objective. We wish to thank those who participated in one way or another in the review. We are counting on their future engagement and contributions to continue this work in progress.

This reflection exercise enabled us confirm an important principle, which was shared through many participants' statements: we are not just discussing the modernization of a law, we are discussing our country's social blueprint. Indeed, the modernization of the Act cannot and should not only be a revision exercise aimed at making amendments to a text. This is an opportunity for all Canadians to define the Canada of tomorrow, in line with our aspirations. In this way, the Act becomes a conduit capable of carrying these aspirations and a powerful tool for making Canada an increasingly modern, free, inclusive and exemplary country.

Annex 1 – Information on the Reports of the Commissioner and Parliamentary Committees

Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages

Modernizing the Official Languages Act: The Views of Federal Institutions and Recommendations

Standing Committee on Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Annex 2 – List of proposals to modernize the Act

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, but it does present most of the proposals made as part of the review to modernize the Official Languages Act.

Theme 1: The mobilization, the development and the vitality of official language minority communities


Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Require consultations with OLMCs and groups that promote second-official-language learning

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Formalize the mechanisms for consulting OLMCs in a regulation on Part VII of the Act

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Create an OLMC Advisory Council

Primary Sources:

Example 4: Provide Quebec's English-speaking community with the required resources and an official consultative mechanism to encourage participation that is reflective of the community's demographic weight

Primary Sources:


Clarify the obligations of federal institutions under Part VII of the Act

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Sections 41 and 43: Clarify the definitions of important concepts (e.g., "positive measures" and "vitality") in the text of the Act or in regulations under Part VII

Further clarify the obligations of federal institutions (FI) under Part VII to promote greater access to justice in French in Canada

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Clarify the definitions of the concepts "Francophone," "Anglophone," and "bilingual"

Primary Sources:


Include official languages obligations in federal-provincial/territorial (FPT) agreements

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Include language clauses in all agreements on the federal transfer of funds to provinces and territories and an obligation to consult OLMCs on these agreements

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Include a funding envelope in each FPT agreement to develop OLMC institutions

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Ensure greater transparency and accountability in FPT agreements

Primary Sources:


Better identify citizens who have language rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Require Statistics Canada to count the rights holders under Section 23 of the Charter

Primary Sources:


Expand the definition of "Francophone"

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Modify the definition of "Francophone" to include immigrants, exogamous families and Francophiles

Primary Sources:


Improve immigration to official language minority communities

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Enshrine immigration measures in the Act to promote welcoming and retaining immigrants in OLMCs

Primary Sources:


Improve the linguistic security of young citizens in official language minority communities

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Modify CBC/Radio-Canada's mandate to promote the production of more local content

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Ensure the continued presence of community media (newspapers and radio)

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Apply an "official languages" lens when developing any new public policy

Primary Sources:

Example 4: Ensure an education continuum from early childhood to postsecondary

Primary Sources:

Theme 2: Federal institutions that embody official languages


Entrust a central agency with implementing the Act, including horizontal coordination and accountability

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Entrust the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) with implementing the entire Act

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Entrust the implementation of the entire Act to the Privy Council Office

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Strengthen the current powers of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and/or the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie

Primary Sources:

Example 4: Establish a clearer hierarchy of responsibilities among federal institutions

Primary Sources:


Strengthen the powers of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL)

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Grant the OCOL the power to issue compliance orders, like those found in court judgments, that could be reviewed in federal court if the concerned party wishes to contest them

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Grant the OCOL the power to institute an inquiry into a complaint before an "Official Languages Tribunal" and to intervene in cases heard in that new judicial body

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Give the OCOL the authority to impose operational penalties, fines, administrative monetary penalties or enforceable agreements

Primary Sources:


Ensure the bilingualism of justices of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC)

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Delete the bilingualism exception for SCC justices in section 16(1) of the Act

Primary Sources:


Create a work environment in the federal public service that promotes the use of both official languages (Part V)

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Add an explicit "commitment" to the text of the Act requiring the federal government to promote a bilingual work environment across the country

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Establish greater consistency between Parts IV, V, VI and VII in federal offices in Quebec by adding minimum requirements to encourage greater use of English and reflect the presence of English-speaking minority communities

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Ensure that language of work rights be consistent with language of service obligations

Primary Sources:

Example 4: Promote the right of public servants to use either official language (section 34) by specifying the obligations of federal institutions as set out in section 36 (e.g., for virtual meetings)

Extend those rights and obligations to more Canadian regions (currently limited to the National Capital Region and regions designated bilingual)

Improve employee language training and ensure that senior executives are completely bilingual

Primary Sources:

Example 5: Integrate the geographical area of a province or territory that has declared English and French as its official languages into the federally designated bilingual regions (e.g: N.B., NWT)

Primary Sources:


Formalize the bilingual character of the National Capital Region (NCR) and/or the City of Ottawa

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Create a new part in the Act specific to the National Capital Region (NCR), which would include:

Primary Sources:


Clarify and extend language of service obligations (Part IV of the Act)

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Extend language of service obligations to businesses under federal jurisdiction

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Clarify the scope and content of the obligation to provide an active offer, including by adopting a regulation

Primary Sources:


Create an obligation to review the Act periodically

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Ensure that the Act be reviewed every 10 years (the sole amendments to the 1969 Act were made in 1988 and 2005)

Primary Sources:


Create better intersections with key federal legislation

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Harmonize the purposes of the Charter, the Divorce Act, the Broadcasting Act, the Canada Health Act, etc., with the Official Languages Act

Primary Sources:

Theme 3: The promotion of culture and bilingualism


Introduce a right (or even an obligation) to learn one's second official language under Part VII, just as there is a right to minority education in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Give all Canadians the right to learn both official languages through French as a Second Language (FSL) programs

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Clarify the federal role, measures and main principles in support of second-language learning

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Make learning French as a second language mandatory from Kindergarten to Grade 12

Primary Sources:

Example 4: Provide French immersion opportunities to all interested individuals, regardless of where they live, and make core French courses mandatory K–12

Primary Sources:


Amend the preamble of the Act

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Include in the preamble of the Act:

Primary Sources:


Give greater prominence to Indigenous languages in the Act

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Provide a framework for the protection, recognition and use of Indigenous languages

Primary Sources:

Theme 4: Official languages and Canada's place in the world


Strengthen Canada's leadership on official languages in the world

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Define the role of the minister responsible for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie in the Act

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Appoint bilingual diplomats and ambassadors who will promote Canadian bilingualism internationally

Primary Sources:

Example 3: Define a diplomatic role for the Commissioner of Official Languages

Primary Sources:


Promote the cultural and linguistic wealth of official language minority communities internationally

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Develop agreements between postsecondary institutions in OLMCs and international educational institutions

Support the export of the cultural products of OLMCs

Primary Sources:

Theme 5: Official languages and Canada in the digital age


Strengthen the mandates of CBC/Radio-Canada and the CRTC to support the objectives of the Act

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example 1: Ensure that CBC/Radio-Canada have a board of directors that reflects Canada's regional diversity, including Canadian youth

Primary Sources:

Example 2: Ensure that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulates Internet broadcasting

Primary Sources:


Use technology to broaden the discussion on official languages to include linguistic majorities

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Develop digital tools so that Canadians can easily discover the culture of the other language (e.g., Hackathon projects, The Mauril)

Primary Sources:


Oversee the role of Translation Bureau

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Recognize and guarantee the independence, expertise and funding of the Translation Bureau within the OLA

Primary Sources:


Improve data quality on official language minority communities

Examples of proposals associated with each issue

Example: Allow better research and better access to quality data on OLMC demographics to plan for infrastructure and services needed in the future

Primary Sources:

Annex 3 – List of organizations that participated in the exercise to modernize the Official Languages Act

Several Canadians participated in the discussions as individuals. Representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments also participated in the discussions. We would like to acknowledge and thank them for their contributions.

List of organizations that participated in the forums and round tables

List of speakers at the symposium

René Arseneault
Member of Parliament Madawaska-Restigouche

Soukaina Boutiyeb
Executive Director, Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne

Gino LeBlanc
Director,Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs,Simon Fraser University

Catherine Clark
President, Catherine Clark Communications

The Honourable Mélanie Joly
Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie

Daniel Lessard
Journalist, analyst, and author

Graham Fraser
Commissioner of Official Languages from 2006 to 2016

Warren Newman
Senior General Counsel, Department of Justice of Canada

Mark Power
Attorney, Juristes Power

Hubert Lussier
Historian with more than 20 years of experience in the field of official languages in the federal government

Professor, Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta

Dr. Lorna Turnbull
Law professor, University of Manitoba

Stephen Thompson
Director, Government Relations, Policy and Research at Quebec Community Groups Network

Pierre Foucher
Analyst, Court Challenges Program, University of Ottawa

Noëlla Arsenault
Representative of linguistic cases, Prince Edward Island

Éric Dow
Singer, Communication Officer at the La Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick

Charles Slowey
Assistant Deputy Minister, Citizenship, Heritage and Regions, Department of Canadian Heritage

Denis Racine
Director general, Official Languages Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage

Frédéric Bérard
Lawyer and Co-Director and founder, National Observatory on Language Rights

Nancy Chahwan
Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Ian Shugart
Clerk of the Privy Council

Geoffrey Chambers
President, Quebec Community Groups Network

Jean Johnson
President, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada

Graham Fox
President and CEO, Institute for Research on Public Policy

Linda Cardinal
Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Political Studies at University of Ottawa, and holder of the Research Chair in Francophonie and Public Policies

Malcolm Lewis-Richmond
President, Y4Y Quebec

The Honourable Don Boudria, P.C.
Former Minister and parliamentarian

The Honourable Michelle O'Bonsawin
Mock trial

Laura Lussier and Shaunpal Jandu
Ambassadors of the caravan Tournée bonjour my friend! tour

Christopher Deacon
President and CEO, National Arts Centre

Christopher Curtis
Journalist/reporter, Montreal Gazette

Glenn O'Farell
President and CEO, Groupe Média TFO

Marco Dubé
Director General, Regional Services, CBC/Radio-Canada

Marie-Philippe Bouchard
President and CEO, TV5-Québec-Canada

Solange Drouin
Vice-President, Public Affairs and Director General, Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo and Co-Chair, Canadian Coalition for Cultural Diversity

Mona Fortier
Member of Parliament, Ottawa – Vanier

Jacques Thibodeau
Winner, Hackathon Accès Franco 2018 (Moncton-Dieppe)

Victor Mikolajczyk, Samuel Croteau and Éric Kavalec
Winners, Hackathon ConUHacks (Montréal)

Lionel Bernard
Winner, FrancoLab 2019 Innovation Lab (Edmonton)

Jean-Daniel Bergeron
Senior analyst, Department of Canadian Heritage

Carsten Quell
A/Executive Director,Official Languages Centre of Excellence, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Stéphan Déry
Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau

Normand Labrie
Professor, University of Toronto

Sue Duguay
President of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française

Michèle Vatz-Laaroussi
Associate Professor, University of Sherbrooke, Regional immigration in Quebec and Canada

Fayza Abdallaoui
Mouvement ontarien des femmes immigrantes francophones

Lori-Ann Cyr
President and CEO, co-founder of Diversis, a consulting firm specializing in immigration and cultural diversity management

Pier-Maude Lanteigne
Member of the Prime Minister's Youth Council

Chad Bean
Member of the Quebec Community Groups Network Board of Directors

Justin Johnson
Vice President of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada and member of the Federal Youth Network

Nicole Thibault
Executive Director, Canadian Parents for French

Canadian artist

Lisa Berthier
Executive Director, Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife

Allister Surette
President and vice-chancellor, Université Sainte-Anne

Sylvia Martin-Laforge
Director General, Quebec Community Groups Network

Isabelle Salesse
Executive Director, Association franco-yukonnaise

Derrek Bentley
Young activist, recipient of the Riel Prize in Community Development

Darrell Samson
Member of Parliament Sackville – Preston – Chezzetcook

The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice, Attorney General of Canada

List of organizations that participated in the symposium

Catalogue number: CH14-41/2019E-PDF, ISBN: 978-0-660-31759-5

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