Official Languages Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.))

Act current to 2014-11-11 and last amended on 2014-04-01. Previous Versions

Official Languages Act

R.S.C., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.)

An Act respecting the status and use of the official languages of Canada

[1988, c. 38, assented to 28th July, 1988]
Preamble

WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada provides that English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada;

AND WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada provides for full and equal access to Parliament, to the laws of Canada and to courts established by Parliament in both official languages;

AND WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada also provides for guarantees relating to the right of any member of the public to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any institution of the Parliament or government of Canada in either official language;

AND WHEREAS officers and employees of institutions of the Parliament or government of Canada should have equal opportunities to use the official language of their choice while working together in pursuing the goals of those institutions;

AND WHEREAS English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians should, without regard to their ethnic origin or first language learned, have equal opportunities to obtain employment in the institutions of the Parliament or government of Canada;

AND WHEREAS the Government of Canada is committed to achieving, with due regard to the principle of selection of personnel according to merit, full participation of English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians in its institutions;

AND WHEREAS the Government of Canada is committed to enhancing the vitality and supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities, as an integral part of the two official language communities of Canada, and to fostering full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society;

AND WHEREAS the Government of Canada is committed to cooperating with provincial governments and their institutions to support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities, to provide services in both English and French, to respect the constitutional guarantees of minority language educational rights and to enhance opportunities for all to learn both English and French;

AND WHEREAS the Government of Canada is committed to enhancing the bilingual character of the National Capital Region and to encouraging the business community, labour organizations and voluntary organizations in Canada to foster the recognition and use of English and French;

AND WHEREAS the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of preserving and enhancing the use of languages other than English and French while strengthening the status and use of the official languages;

NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Official Languages Act.

PURPOSE OF ACT

Marginal note:Purpose

 The purpose of this Act is to

  • (a) ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada and ensure equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all federal institutions, in particular with respect to their use in parliamentary proceedings, in legislative and other instruments, in the administration of justice, in communicating with or providing services to the public and in carrying out the work of federal institutions;

  • (b) support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities and generally advance the equality of status and use of the English and French languages within Canadian society; and

  • (c) set out the powers, duties and functions of federal institutions with respect to the official languages of Canada.

INTERPRETATION

Marginal note:Definitions
  •  (1) In this Act,

    “Commissioner”

    « commissaire »

    “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada appointed under section 49;

    “Crown corporation”

    « sociétés d’État »

    “Crown corporation” means

    • (a) a corporation that is ultimately accountable, through a Minister, to Parliament for the conduct of its affairs, and

    • (b) a parent Crown corporation or a wholly-owned subsidiary, within the meaning of section 83 of the Financial Administration Act;

    “department”

    « ministère »

    “department” means a department as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act;

    “federal institution”

    « institutions fédérales »

    “federal institution” includes any of the following institutions of the Parliament or government of Canada:

    • (a) the Senate,

    • (b) the House of Commons,

    • (c) the Library of Parliament,

    • (c.1) the office of the Senate Ethics Officer and the office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner,

    • (d) any federal court,

    • (e) any board, commission or council, or other body or office, established to perform a governmental function by or pursuant to an Act of Parliament or by or under the authority of the Governor in Council,

    • (f) a department of the Government of Canada,

    • (g) a Crown corporation established by or pursuant to an Act of Parliament, and

    • (h) any other body that is specified by an Act of Parliament to be an agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada or to be subject to the direction of the Governor in Council or a minister of the Crown,

    but does not include

    • (i) any institution of the Legislative Assembly or government of Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut, or

    • (j) any Indian band, band council or other body established to perform a governmental function in relation to an Indian band or other group of aboriginal people;

    “National Capital Region”

    « région de la capitale nationale »

    “National Capital Region” means the National Capital Region described in the schedule to the National Capital Act.

  • Definition of “federal court”

    (2) In this section and in Parts II and III, “federal court” means any court, tribunal or other body that carries out adjudicative functions and is established by or pursuant to an Act of Parliament.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 3;
  • 1993, c. 28, s. 78;
  • 2002, c. 7, s. 224;
  • 2004, c. 7, s. 26;
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 20;
  • 2014, c. 2, s. 39.