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

Act current to 2022-09-22 and last amended on 2022-07-26. Previous Versions

PART IIIAdministration of Justice (continued)

Marginal note:Bilingual forms

  •  (1) The pre-printed portion of any form that is used in proceedings before a federal court and is required to be served by any federal institution that is a party to the proceedings on any other party shall be in both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Particular details

    (2) The particular details that are added to a form referred to in subsection (1) may be set out in either official language but, where the details are set out in only one official language, it shall be clearly indicated on the form that a translation of the details into the other official language may be obtained, and, if a request for a translation is made, a translation shall be made available forthwith by the party that served the form.

Marginal note:Decisions, orders and judgments that must be made available simultaneously

  •  (1) Any final decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given therefor, issued by any federal court shall be made available simultaneously in both official languages where

    • (a) the decision, order or judgment determines a question of law of general public interest or importance; or

    • (b) the proceedings leading to its issuance were conducted in whole or in part in both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Other decisions, orders and judgments

    (2) Where

    • (a) any final decision, order or judgment issued by a federal court is not required by subsection (1) to be made available simultaneously in both official languages, or

    • (b) the decision, order or judgment is required by paragraph (1)(a) to be made available simultaneously in both official languages but the court is of the opinion that to make the decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given therefor, available simultaneously in both official languages would occasion a delay prejudicial to the public interest or resulting in injustice or hardship to any party to the proceedings leading to its issuance,

    the decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given therefor, shall be issued in the first instance in one of the official languages and thereafter, at the earliest possible time, in the other official language, each version to be effective from the time the first version is effective.

  • Marginal note:Oral rendition of decisions not affected

    (3) Nothing in subsection (1) or (2) shall be construed as prohibiting the oral rendition or delivery, in only one of the official languages, of any decision, order or judgment or any reasons given therefor.

  • Marginal note:Decisions not invalidated

    (4) No decision, order or judgment issued by a federal court is invalid by reason only that it was not made or issued in both official languages.

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, Parliamentary Protective Service or office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer — 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
  • 2017, c. 20, s. 180

PART VLanguage of Work

Marginal note:Rights relating to language of work

 English and French are the languages of work in all federal institutions, and officers and employees of all federal institutions have the right to use either official language in accordance with this Part.

Marginal note:Duties of government

  •  (1) Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that

    • (a) within the National Capital Region and in any part or region of Canada, or in any place outside Canada, that is prescribed, work environments of the institution are conducive to the effective use of both official languages and accommodate the use of either official language by its officers and employees; and

    • (b) in all parts or regions of Canada not prescribed for the purpose of paragraph (a), the treatment of both official languages in the work environments of the institution in parts or regions of Canada where one official language predominates is reasonably comparable to the treatment of both official languages in the work environments of the institution in parts or regions of Canada where the other official language predominates.

  • Marginal note:Regions of Canada prescribed

    (2) The regions of Canada set out in Annex B of the part of the Treasury Board and Public Service Commission Circular No. 1977-46 of September 30, 1977 that is entitled “Official Languages in the Public Service of Canada: A Statement of Policies” are prescribed for the purpose of paragraph (1)(a).

Marginal note:Minimum duties in relation to prescribed regions

  •  (1) Every federal institution has the duty, within the National Capital Region and in any part or region of Canada, or in any place outside Canada, that is prescribed for the purpose of paragraph 35(1)(a), to

    • (a) make available in both official languages to officers and employees of the institution

      • (i) services that are provided to officers and employees, including services that are provided to them as individuals and services that are centrally provided by the institution to support them in the performance of their duties, and

      • (ii) regularly and widely used work instruments produced by or on behalf of that or any other federal institution;

    • (b) ensure that regularly and widely used automated systems for the processing and communication of data acquired or produced by the institution on or after January 1, 1991 can be used in either official language; and

    • (c) ensure that,

      • (i) where it is appropriate or necessary in order to create a work environment that is conducive to the effective use of both official languages, supervisors are able to communicate in both official languages with officers and employees of the institution in carrying out their supervisory responsibility, and

      • (ii) any management group that is responsible for the general direction of the institution as a whole has the capacity to function in both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Additional duties in prescribed regions

    (2) Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that, within the National Capital Region and in any part or region of Canada, or in any place outside Canada, that is prescribed for the purpose of paragraph 35(1)(a), such measures are taken in addition to those required under subsection (1) as can reasonably be taken to establish and maintain work environments of the institution that are conducive to the effective use of both official languages and accommodate the use of either official language by its officers and employees.

Marginal note:Special duties for institutions directing or providing services to others

 Every federal institution that has authority to direct, or provides services to, other federal institutions has the duty to ensure that it exercises its powers and carries out its duties in relation to those other institutions in a manner that accommodates the use of either official language by officers and employees of those institutions.

Marginal note:Regulations

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations in respect 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, Parliamentary Protective Service or office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer,

    • (a) prescribing, in respect of any part or region of Canada or any place outside Canada,

      • (i) any services or work instruments that are to be made available by those institutions in both official languages to officers or employees of those institutions,

      • (ii) any automated systems for the processing and communication of data that must be available for use in both official languages, and

      • (iii) any supervisory or management functions that are to be carried out by those institutions in both official languages;

    • (b) prescribing any other measures that are to be taken, within the National Capital Region and in any part or region of Canada, or in any place outside Canada, that is prescribed for the purpose of paragraph 35(1)(a), to establish and maintain work environments of those institutions that are conducive to the effective use of both official languages and accommodate the use of either official language by their officers and employees;

    • (c) requiring that either or both official languages be used in communications with offices of those institutions that are located in any part or region of Canada, or any place outside Canada, specified in the regulations;

    • (d) prescribing the manner in which any duties of those institutions under this Part or the regulations made under this Part in relation to the use of both official languages are to be carried out; and

    • (e) prescribing obligations of those institutions in relation to the use of the official languages of Canada by the institutions in respect of offices in parts or regions of Canada not prescribed for the purpose of paragraph 35(1)(a), having regard to the equality of status of both official languages.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (2) The Governor in Council may make regulations

    • (a) adding to or deleting from the regions of Canada prescribed by subsection 35(2) or prescribing any other part or region of Canada, or any place outside Canada, for the purpose of paragraph 35(1)(a), having regard to

      • (i) the number and proportion of English-speaking and French-speaking officers and employees who constitute the work force of federal institutions based in the parts, regions or places prescribed,

      • (ii) the number and proportion of English-speaking and French-speaking persons resident in the parts or regions prescribed, and

      • (iii) any other factors that the Governor in Council considers appropriate; and

    • (b) substituting, with respect to any federal institution 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 or office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a duty in relation to the use of the official languages of Canada in place of a duty under section 36 or the regulations made under subsection (1), having regard to the equality of status of both official languages, if there is a demonstrable conflict between the duty under section 36 or the regulations and the mandate of the institution.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.), s. 38
  • 2004, c. 7, s. 28
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 22
  • 2015, c. 36, s. 146
  • 2017, c. 20, s. 181
 
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