Official Languages

Background

The Official Languages Act (OLA) of 1969 reinforced the status of both languages by declaring English and French as Canada’s official languages (OL) and providing for their equality of status in Parliament and in the Government of Canada.

The OLA sets out the obligations of institutions with regard to OL, according to four main parts:

  • Part IV recognizes that Canadians have the right to communicate with and receive services from federal institutions in either OL.
  • Part V recognizes English and French as the languages of work in federal institutions. It states that employees in regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes have the right to work and be supervised in their chosen OL.
  • Part VI specifies that English- and French-speaking Canadians have equal opportunities for employment and advancement in federal institutions, and that the workforce of federal institutions reflects the linguistic composition of the Canadian population as much as possible.
  • Part VII specifies the commitment of the Government of Canada towards the official-language minority communities (OLMCs) in Canada—English communities in Quebec and French communities in the rest of Canada—and the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

Treasury Board (TB) sets the framework for OL, providing general direction and coordination to federal institutions on OL policies and programs. Annually, TB tables in Parliament a report on the status of Parts IV, V and VI of the OLA in federal institutions. Canadian Heritage (PCH) is responsible for coordinating the implementation of Part VII of the OLA and to table a report on its implementation in federal institutions.

LAC is required to complete an OL review every three years. LAC recently submitted its 2018–19 OL review to TB and PCH.

The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada is an agent of Parliament whose mandate is to promote Canadian linguistic duality and oversee the full implementation of the OLA. The Commissioner receives and investigates complaints on OL and releases an annual report on OL.

Considerations

  • The Human Resources and Security Branch (HRSB) is responsible for the OL Program at LAC.
  • LAC’s OL Champion is Linda Savoie, Corporate Secretary.
  • LAC’s Advisory Committee on OL—presided over by the OL Champions and comprised of director-level representatives from each sector/branch—meets at least three times a year to examine OL-related issues at LAC. It makes recommendations, ensures OL are considered in decision-making processes at LAC, and maintains good relations with the OLMCs.
  • LAC’s three-year OL Action Plan reflects LAC’s commitment to meeting its obligations and continuing to implement initiatives to ensure departmental capacity and compliance with the OLA.
  • LAC’s OL Monitoring Framework provides a clear and consistent approach to monitor OL at LAC and to ensure that LAC meets its legislative requirements under the OLA.
  • 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the OLA and a modernization of the OLA, led by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, is currently under way. LAC celebrates and promotes the 50th anniversary of the OLA, with events and activities such as:
    • LAC Out Loud, an event during which a group of LAC employees will read ‘out loud’ archival documents on official language and linguistic duality to bring them alive in a theatrical style (on September 30 at PDLC for LAC employees/Late fall at 395 Wellington for the public).
    • An article published in July on LAC’s discover blog page.
    • An event, held in collaboration with the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada, pairing four authors and translators from both official language communities, as well as from the Indigenous community. The event is a conversation between authors and translators, combined with readings of their texts (to be held at 395 Wellington, date to be determined).

Key messages

  • Although the situation of OL is very positive at LAC, the organization must continue to promote a work environment conducive to the use of both OL and strive to integrate OL in its organizational culture.

Contact:

Nathalie Des Rosiers, Director, HR Programs and Policies
Email: nathalie.desrosiers@canada.ca
Tel: 613-818-1265

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