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

Act current to 2024-05-28 and last amended on 2024-01-01. Previous Versions

PART VIIAdvancement of Equality of Status and Use of English and French (continued)

Marginal note:Disposal strategy — considerations

  •  (1) In developing a disposal strategy for a surplus federal real property or a federal immovable, every department and supporting federal institution shall take into account the needs and priorities of the English or French linguistic minority communities of the province or territory where the federal real property or federal immovable is located.

  • Marginal note:Consultations

    (2) In taking into account the needs and priorities under subsection (1), departments shall consult English or French linguistic minority communities and other stakeholders, including school boards or commissions.

Marginal note:Commitment — bilingualism and promoting French abroad

  •  (1) The Government of Canada is committed to advancing the use of English and French in the conduct of Canada’s external affairs and to promoting French as part of Canada’s diplomatic relations.

  • Marginal note:Implementation

    (2) The Minister of Foreign Affairs shall implement the commitment under subsection (1).

Marginal note:Recognition — Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

 The Government of Canada recognizes that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in carrying out its purposes under the Broadcasting Act and subject to any applicable orders and regulations of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, contributes through its activities to enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and to the protection and promotion of both official languages. This recognition is made while respecting the freedom of expression and the journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Marginal note:Special mandate of Minister of Canadian Heritage

  •  (1) The Minister of Canadian Heritage shall advance the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society, and to that end may take measures to

    • (a) enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and support and assist their development;

    • (b) support the development and promotion of francophone culture in Canada, including through the activities of entities for which that Minister is responsible and by ensuring that the Government of Canada’s cultural policies are consistent with the purpose of this Act;

    • (c) provide funding to an organization, independent of the Government of Canada, responsible for administering a program whose purpose is to provide funding for test cases of national significance to be brought before the courts to clarify and assert constitutional and quasi-constitutional official language rights;

    • (d) encourage and assist provincial and territorial governments to support the development of English and French linguistic minority communities generally and, in particular, to offer provincial, territorial and municipal services in both English and French and to provide opportunities for members of English or French linguistic minority communities to be educated in their own language;

    • (e) encourage and assist provincial and territorial governments and non-profit organizations to provide opportunities for everyone in Canada to learn both English and French and to foster an acceptance and appreciation of both English and French by members of the public;

    • (f) induce the business community, labour organizations, non-profit organizations and other organizations or institutions to provide services in both English and French and to foster the recognition and use of those languages;

    • (g) implement programs in support of official languages; and

    • (h) with the approval of the Governor in Council, enter into agreements or arrangements that recognize and advance the bilingual character of Canada with the governments of foreign states.

  • Marginal note:Consultation and information to public

    (2) The Minister of Canadian Heritage shall take such measures as that Minister considers appropriate to ensure public consultation in the development of policies and review of programs relating to the achievement of the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society and shall provide information to the public relating to those policies and programs.

Marginal note:Annual report to Parliament

 The Minister of Canadian Heritage shall, within such time as is reasonably practicable after the termination of each financial year, submit an annual report to Parliament on the matters relating to official languages for which that Minister is responsible.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 44
  • 1995, c. 11, s. 29

Marginal note:Policy on francophone immigration

  •  (1) The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration shall adopt a policy on francophone immigration to enhance the vitality of French linguistic minority communities in Canada, including by restoring and increasing their demographic weight.

  • Marginal note:Contents

    (2) The policy shall include, among other things,

    • (a) objectives, targets and indicators;

    • (a.1) mechanisms for information sharing and for reporting;

    • (b) a statement that the Government of Canada recognizes that immigration is one of the factors that contributes to maintaining or increasing the demographic weight of French linguistic minority communities in Canada; and

    • (c) a statement that the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of francophone immigration to economic development.

Marginal note:Consultation and negotiation — provinces and territories

 Any minister of the Crown designated by the Governor in Council may consult and may negotiate agreements with the provincial and territorial governments to ensure, to the greatest practical extent but subject to Part IV, that the provision of federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and education services in both official languages is coordinated and that regard is had to the needs of the recipients of those services.

Marginal note:Cooperation — provinces and territories

  •  (1) The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of cooperating with provincial and territorial governments in the implementation of this Part, taking into account the diversity of the provincial and territorial language regimes that contribute to the advancement of the equality of status and use of English and French in Canadian society, including that

    • (a) the Constitution of Canada provides every person with the right to use English or French in the debates of the Houses of the Legislature of Quebec and those of the Legislature of Manitoba and the right to use English or French in any pleading or process in or from the courts of those provinces;

    • (b) Quebec’s Charter of the French language provides that French is the official language of Quebec;

    • (c) the Constitution of Canada provides that English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the legislature and government of New Brunswick; and

    • (d) the Constitution of Canada provides that the English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick have equality of status and equal rights and privileges.

  • Marginal note:For greater certainty

    (2) For greater certainty, the implementation of this Part shall be carried out while respecting the jurisdiction and powers of the provinces and territories.

PART VIIIResponsibilities and Duties of Treasury Board in Relation to the Official Languages of Canada

Marginal note:Responsibilities of Treasury Board

  •  (1) The Treasury Board has responsibility for the general direction and coordination of the policies and programs of the Government of Canada relating to the implementation of Parts IV, V and VI, subsection 41(5) and paragraph 41(7)(a.1) in all 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, Parliamentary Protective Service and office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

  • Marginal note:Powers of Treasury Board

    (2) In carrying out its responsibilities under subsection (1), the Treasury Board may

    • (a) [Repealed, 2023, c. 15, s. 25]

    • (b) recommend regulations to the Governor in Council to give effect to Parts IV, V and VI.

    • (c) [Repealed, 2023, c. 15, s. 25]

    • (d) [Repealed, 2023, c. 15, s. 25]

    • (e) [Repealed, 2023, c. 15, s. 25]

    • (f) [Repealed, 2023, c. 15, s. 25]

    • (g) [Repealed, 2023, c. 15, s. 25]

  • Marginal note:Duties of Treasury Board

    (3) In carrying out its responsibilities under subsection (1), the Treasury Board shall

    • (a) establish policies, recommend policies to the Governor in Council or issue directives to give effect to Parts IV, V and VI;

    • (b) in consultation with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, establish policies, recommend policies to the Governor in Council or issue directives to give effect to subsection 41(5) and paragraph 41(7)(a.1);

    • (c) monitor and audit federal institutions in respect of which it has responsibility for their compliance with policies, directives and regulations of the Treasury Board or the Governor in Council relating to the official languages of Canada;

    • (d) evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of policies and programs of federal institutions relating to the official languages of Canada;

    • (e) provide information to the public and to employees of federal institutions relating to the policies, directives and programs that give effect to Parts IV, V and VI; and

    • (f) provide information to employees of federal institutions relating to the policies, directives and programs that give effect to subsection 41(5) and paragraph 41(7)(a.1).

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 46
  • 2004, c. 7, s. 29
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 24
  • 2015, c. 36, s. 148
  • 2017, c. 20, s. 183
  • 2023, c. 15, s. 25

Marginal note:Audit reports to Commissioner

 The Chief Human Resources Officer appointed under subsection 6(2.1) of the Financial Administration Act shall provide the Commissioner with any audit reports that are prepared under paragraph 46(3)(c).

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 47
  • 2005, c. 15, s. 3
  • 2010, c. 12, s. 1676
  • 2023, c. 15, s. 26

Marginal note:Annual report to Parliament

 The President of the Treasury Board shall, within such time as is reasonably practicable after the termination of each financial year, submit an annual report to Parliament on the exercise of the Treasury Board’s powers and the performance of its duties and functions conferred under this Act and the status of programs relating to the official languages of Canada in the various federal institutions in respect of which it has responsibility under section 46.

PART IXCommissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner

Marginal note:Appointment

  •  (1) The Governor in Council shall, by commission under the Great Seal, appoint a Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada after consultation with the Leader of the Government in the Senate or Government Representative in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Leader or Facilitator of every other recognized party or parliamentary group in the Senate and the leader of every recognized party in the House of Commons and approval of the appointment by resolution of the Senate and House of Commons.

  • Marginal note:Tenure

    (2) Subject to this section, the Commissioner holds office during good behaviour for a term of seven years, but may be removed for cause by the Governor in Council at any time on address of the Senate and House of Commons.

  • Marginal note:Further terms

    (3) The Commissioner, on the expiration of a first or any subsequent term of office, is eligible to be re-appointed for a further term not exceeding seven years.

  • Marginal note:Interim appointment

    (4) In the event of the absence or incapacity of the Commissioner or if that office is vacant, the Governor in Council may appoint any qualified person to hold that office in the interim for a term not exceeding six months, and that person shall, while holding office, be paid the salary or other remuneration and expenses that may be fixed by the Governor in Council.

Marginal note:Rank, powers and duties generally

  •  (1) The Commissioner shall rank as and have all the powers of a deputy head of a department, shall engage exclusively in the duties of the office of the Commissioner and shall not hold any other office under Her Majesty or engage in any other employment.

  • Marginal note:Salary and expenses

    (2) The Commissioner shall be paid a salary equal to the salary of a judge of the Federal Court, other than the Chief Justice of that Court, and is entitled to be paid reasonable travel and living expenses while absent from his or her ordinary place of residence in the course of his or her duties.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 50
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 157

Marginal note:Staff

 The employees that are necessary for the proper conduct of the work of the office of the Commissioner shall be appointed in the manner authorized by law.

Marginal note:Technical assistance

 The Commissioner may engage, on a temporary basis, the services of persons having technical or specialized knowledge of any matter relating to the work of the Commissioner to advise and assist the Commissioner in the performance of the duties of his office and, with the approval of the Treasury Board, may fix and pay the remuneration and expenses of those persons.

 

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