Modernization of Official Languages Act: Appointment of Expert Panel on Language of Work and Service in Federally Regulated Private Businesses

News release

OTTAWA, March 5, 2021

As announced in the document English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada, released on February 19, the Government of Canada aims to help protect and promote the use of French in federally regulated private businesses.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced today the creation of the expert panel that will study the implementation of new rights and obligations as proposed as part of the reform. The following individuals were selected to serve on the committee to ensure that it is reasonably representative of Canada’s linguistic groups, and on the basis of their expertise in the areas of official languages, labour relations, the administration of federally regulated service enterprises, constitutional rights and the implementation of the Charter of the French Language by private businesses in Quebec:

  • Dr. Linda Cardinal
  • Dr. Frédéric Bérard
  • Dr. Donald Savoie
  • Me Pierre-André Blanchard
  • Dr. Ibrahima Diallo
  • Me Janice Naymark
  • Me Josée Gervais (associate expert)

The experts have the dual mandate to recommend possible recourses for workers and consumers as well as criteria to recognize regions outside Quebec with a strong Francophone presence. The board will also be required to consult with leaders of various certified unions representing workers and employers of federally regulated businesses, representatives of various levels of government, partners from linguistic minority communities and managers of federally regulated businesses. The panel will have 60 days to do its work. Their first meeting will take place March 8.

By reforming and modernizing official language policy in Canada, the government intends to give employees the right to work in French in federally regulated private businesses in Quebec and in other regions of the country where there is a strong Francophone presence. The reformed policy will also require employers to communicate with their employees in French, to prohibit discrimination against employees solely because they speak only French or do not have sufficient knowledge of a another language and to ensure consumers are able to be informed and served in French.

Quotes

“Without a doubt, the government must work with federally regulated private businesses to promote and protect the use of French as a language of service and work. The creation of this panel is essential to the success of this initiative, because these experts will help us define the approach and the recourses for enforcing these new rights, while taking into account the needs and realities of businesses.”

—The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Quick facts

  • On February 19, in the document English and French: Towards a Substantive Equality of Official Languages in Canada, Minister Joly unveiled the Government of Canada’s intentions to modernize and strengthen the Official Languages Act and related instruments. This document proposes a range of changes and new measures to achieve a new linguistic balance in the country.

  • The ambitious reform document sets out 56 proposals that affect almost all parts of the act, 33 of which are legislative amendments to strengthen sections of the act.

  • Section 4.3 of the document proposes legislative changes to official languages in federally regulated private businesses.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information (media only), please contact:

Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
613-295-3617
catherine.mounier-desrochers@canada.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
pch.media-media.pch@canada.ca

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