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

Marginal note:Order exempting Commissioner from directives

 The Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Treasury Board, may by order exempt the Commissioner from any directives of the Treasury Board or the Governor in Council made under the Financial Administration Act that apply to deputy heads or other administrative heads in relation to the administration of federal institutions.

Duties and Functions of Commissioner

Marginal note:Duties and functions

 The Commissioner shall carry out such duties and functions as are assigned to the Commissioner by this Act or any other Act of Parliament, and may carry out or engage in such other related assignments or activities as may be authorized by the Governor in Council.

Marginal note:Duty of Commissioner under Act
  •  (1) It is the duty of the Commissioner to take all actions and measures within the authority of the Commissioner with a view to ensuring recognition of the status of each of the official languages and compliance with the spirit and intent of this Act in the administration of the affairs of federal institutions, including any of their activities relating to the advancement of English and French in Canadian society.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (2) It is the duty of the Commissioner, for the purpose set out in subsection (1), to conduct and carry out investigations either on his own initiative or pursuant to any complaint made to the Commissioner and to report and make recommendations with respect thereto as provided in this Act.

Marginal note:Review of regulations and directives

 The Commissioner may initiate a review of

  • (a) any regulations or directives made under this Act, and

  • (b) any other regulations or directives that affect or may affect the status or use of the official languages,

and may refer to and comment on any findings on the review in a report made to Parliament pursuant to section 66 or 67.

Investigations

Marginal note:Investigation of complaints
  •  (1) Subject to this Act, the Commissioner shall investigate any complaint made to the Commissioner arising from any act or omission to the effect that, in any particular instance or case,

    • (a) the status of an official language was not or is not being recognized,

    • (b) any provision of any Act of Parliament or regulation relating to the status or use of the official languages was not or is not being complied with, or

    • (c) the spirit and intent of this Act was not or is not being complied with

    in the administration of the affairs of any federal institution.

  • Marginal note:Who may make complaint

    (2) A complaint may be made to the Commissioner by any person or group of persons, whether or not they speak, or represent a group speaking, the official language the status or use of which is at issue.

  • Marginal note:Discontinuance of investigation

    (3) If in the course of investigating any complaint it appears to the Commissioner that, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, any further investigation is unnecessary, the Commissioner may refuse to investigate the matter further.

  • Marginal note:Right of Commissioner to refuse or cease investigation

    (4) The Commissioner may refuse to investigate or cease to investigate any complaint if in the opinion of the Commissioner

    • (a) the subject-matter of the complaint is trivial;

    • (b) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith; or

    • (c) the subject-matter of the complaint does not involve a contravention or failure to comply with the spirit and intent of this Act, or does not for any other reason come within the authority of the Commissioner under this Act.

  • Marginal note:Complainant to be notified

    (5) Where the Commissioner decides to refuse to investigate or cease to investigate any complaint, the Commissioner shall inform the complainant of that decision and shall give the reasons therefor.

Marginal note:Notice of intention to investigate

 Before carrying out an investigation under this Act, the Commissioner shall inform the deputy head or other administrative head of any federal institution concerned of his intention to carry out the investigation.

Marginal note:Investigation to be conducted in private
  •  (1) Every investigation by the Commissioner under this Act shall be conducted in private.

  • Marginal note:Opportunity to answer allegations and criticisms

    (2) It is not necessary for the Commissioner to hold any hearing and no person is entitled as of right to be heard by the Commissioner, but if at any time during the course of an investigation it appears to the Commissioner that there may be sufficient grounds to make a report or recommendation that may adversely affect any individual or any federal institution, the Commissioner shall, before completing the investigation, take every reasonable measure to give to that individual or institution a full and ample opportunity to answer any adverse allegation or criticism, and to be assisted or represented by counsel for that purpose.

Marginal note:Procedure
  •  (1) Subject to this Act, the Commissioner may determine the procedure to be followed in carrying out any investigation under this Act.

  • Marginal note:Receiving and obtaining of information by officer designated

    (2) The Commissioner may direct that information relating to any investigation under this Act be received or obtained, in whole or in part, by any officer of the office of the Commissioner appointed under section 51 and that officer shall, subject to such restrictions or limitations as the Commissioner may specify, have all the powers and duties of the Commissioner under this Act in relation to the receiving or obtaining of that information.

Marginal note:Powers of Commissioner in carrying out investigations
  •  (1) The Commissioner has, in relation to the carrying out of any investigation under this Act, other than an investigation in relation to Part III, power

    • (a) to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath, and to produce such documents and things as the Commissioner deems requisite to the full investigation and consideration of any matter within his authority under this Act, in the same manner and to the same extent as a superior court of record;

    • (b) to administer oaths;

    • (c) to receive and accept such evidence and other information, whether on oath or by affidavit or otherwise, as in his discretion the Commissioner sees fit, whether or not the evidence or information is or would be admissible in a court of law; and

    • (d) subject to such limitation as may in the interests of defence or security be prescribed by regulation of the Governor in Council, to enter any premises occupied by any federal institution and carry out therein such inquiries within his authority under this Act as the Commissioner sees fit.

  • Marginal note:Threats, intimidation, discrimination or obstruction to be reported

    (2) Where the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that

    • (a) an individual has been threatened, intimidated or made the object of discrimination because that individual has made a complaint under this Act or has given evidence or assisted in any way in respect of an investigation under this Act, or proposes to do so, or

    • (b) the Commissioner, or any person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner, has been obstructed in the performance of the Commissioner’s duties or functions under this Act,

    the Commissioner may report that belief and the grounds therefor to the President of the Treasury Board and the deputy head or other administrative head of any institution concerned.

Marginal note:Conclusion of investigation
  •  (1) If, after carrying out an investigation under this Act, the Commissioner is of the opinion that

    • (a) the act or omission that was the subject of the investigation should be referred to any federal institution concerned for consideration and action if necessary,

    • (b) any Act or regulations thereunder, or any directive of the Governor in Council or the Treasury Board, should be reconsidered or any practice that leads or is likely to lead to a contravention of this Act should be altered or discontinued, or

    • (c) any other action should be taken,

    the Commissioner shall report that opinion and the reasons therefor to the President of the Treasury Board and the deputy head or other administrative head of any institution concerned.

  • Marginal note:Other policies to be taken into account

    (2) In making a report under subsection (1) that relates to any federal institution, the Commissioner shall have regard to any policies that apply to that institution that are set out in any Act of Parliament or regulation thereunder or in any directive of the Governor in Council or the Treasury Board.

  • Marginal note:Recommendations

    (3) The Commissioner may

    • (a) in a report under subsection (1) make such recommendations as he thinks fit; and

    • (b) request the deputy head or other administrative head of the federal institution concerned to notify the Commissioner within a specified time of the action, if any, that the institution proposes to take to give effect to those recommendations.

 
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