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

Act current to 2016-08-01 and last amended on 2015-06-23. Previous Versions

PART IVCommunications with and Services to the Public

Communications and Services

Marginal note:Rights relating to language of communication

 Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with and to receive available services from federal institutions in accordance with this Part.

Marginal note:Where communications and services must be in both official languages

 Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services from its head or central office in either official language, and has the same duty with respect to any of its other offices or facilities

  • (a) within the National Capital Region; or

  • (b) in Canada or elsewhere, where there is significant demand for communications with and services from that office or facility in that language.

Marginal note:Travelling public
  •  (1) For greater certainty, every federal institution that provides services or makes them available to the travelling public has the duty to ensure that any member of the travelling public can communicate with and obtain those services in either official language from any office or facility of the institution in Canada or elsewhere where there is significant demand for those services in that language.

  • Marginal note:Services provided pursuant to a contract

    (2) Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that such services to the travelling public as may be prescribed by regulation of the Governor in Council that are provided or made available by another person or organization pursuant to a contract with the federal institution for the provision of those services at an office or facility referred to in subsection (1) are provided or made available, in both official languages, in the manner prescribed by regulation of the Governor in Council.

Marginal note:Nature of the office
  •  (1) Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate in either official language with, and obtain available services in either official language from, any of its offices or facilities in Canada or elsewhere

    • (a) in any circumstances prescribed by regulation of the Governor in Council that relate to any of the following:

      • (i) the health, safety or security of members of the public,

      • (ii) the location of the office or facility, or

      • (iii) the national or international mandate of the office; or

    • (b) in any other circumstances prescribed by regulation of the Governor in Council where, due to the nature of the office or facility, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office or facility be available in both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Institutions reporting directly to Parliament

    (2) Any federal institution that reports directly to Parliament on any of its activities has the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services from all of its offices or facilities in Canada or elsewhere in either official language.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (3) Without restricting the generality of subsection (2), the duty set out in that subsection applies in respect of

    • (a) the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages;

    • (b) the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer;

    • (b.1) the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner;

    • (c) the Office of the Auditor General;

    • (d) the Office of the Information Commissioner;

    • (e) the Office of the Privacy Commissioner; and

    • (f) the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 24;
  • 2005, c. 46, s. 56.5;
  • 2006, c. 9, ss. 96, 222.

Services Provided on behalf of Federal Institutions

Marginal note:Where services provided on behalf of federal institutions

 Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that, where services are provided or made available by another person or organization on its behalf, any member of the public in Canada or elsewhere can communicate with and obtain those services from that person or organization in either official language in any case where those services, if provided by the institution, would be required under this Part to be provided in either official language.

Regulatory Activities of Federal Institutions

Marginal note:Regulatory activities relating to health, safety and security of public

 Every federal institution that regulates persons or organizations with respect to any of their activities that relate to the health, safety or security of members of the public has the duty to ensure, through its regulation of those persons or organizations, wherever it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances, that members of the public can communicate with and obtain available services from those persons or organizations in relation to those activities in both official languages.

General

Marginal note:Obligations relating to communications and services

 Wherever in this Part there is a duty in respect of communications and services in both official languages, the duty applies in respect of oral and written communications and in respect of any documents or activities that relate to those communications or services.

Marginal note:Active offer

 Every federal institution that is required under this Part to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services from an office or facility of that institution, or of another person or organization on behalf of that institution, in either official language shall ensure that appropriate measures are taken, including the provision of signs, notices and other information on services and the initiation of communication with the public, to make it known to members of the public that those services are available in either official language at the choice of any member of the public.

Marginal note:Signs identifying offices

 Where a federal institution identifies any of its offices or facilities with signs, each sign shall include both official languages or be placed together with a similar sign of equal prominence in the other official language.

Marginal note:Manner of communicating

 Subject to Part II, where a federal institution is engaged in communications with members of the public in both official languages as required in this Part, it shall communicate by using such media of communication as will reach members of the public in the official language of their choice in an effective and efficient manner that is consistent with the purposes of this Act.

Marginal note:Relationship to Part V

 In the event of any inconsistency between this Part and Part V, this Part prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.

Regulations

Marginal note:Regulations
  •  (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations

    • (a) prescribing the circumstances in which there is significant demand for the purpose of paragraph 22(b) or subsection 23(1);

    • (b) prescribing circumstances not otherwise provided for under this Part in which federal institutions have the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services from offices of the institution in either official language;

    • (c) prescribing services, and the manner in which those services are to be provided or made available, for the purpose of subsection 23(2);

    • (d) prescribing circumstances, in relation to the public or the travelling public, for the purpose of paragraph 24(1)(a) or (b); and

    • (e) defining the expression “English or French linguistic minority population” for the purpose of paragraph (2)(a).

  • Marginal note:Where circumstances prescribed under paragraph (1)(a) or (b)

    (2) In prescribing circumstances under paragraph (1)(a) or (b), the Governor in Council may have regard to

    • (a) the number of persons composing the English or French linguistic minority population of the area served by an office or facility, the particular characteristics of that population and the proportion of that population to the total population of that area;

    • (b) the volume of communications or services between an office or facility and members of the public using each official language; and

    • (c) any other factors that the Governor in Council considers appropriate.

Marginal note:Regulations

 The Governor in Council may make any regulations that the Governor in Council considers necessary to foster actively communications with and services from offices or facilities of federal institutions — other than the Senate, House of Commons, Library of Parliament, office of the Senate Ethics Officer, office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner or Parliamentary Protective Service — in both official languages, if those communications and services are required under this Part to be provided in both official languages.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 33;
  • 2004, c. 7, s. 27;
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 21;
  • 2015, c. 36, s. 145.
 
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