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January 21st 2015

Linguistic obligations of policing services explained

Fredericton, January 21, 2015 – The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is releasing today on its website a new factsheet on the linguistic obligations of police forces in the province.

“All police forces in New Brunswick, whether municipal, regional, or the RCMP, are required to serve citizens in the official language of their choice,” reminded Commissioner Katherine d’Entremont.

The Official Languages Act requires that police officers inform the public of their right to receive services in English or French.

“Communications with a police department are generally of an official nature, and as such, must be clear and unambiguous,” the Commissioner said. “That’s why police officers must inform people at first contact that they may use the official language of their choice.”

The factsheet states that, if a police officer is unable to serve citizens in the official language of their choice, the officer must take whatever measures are necessary, within a reasonable time, to ensure compliance with the choice made.

“The importance of the linguistic obligations of the police forces in New Brunswick cannot be overstated” added the Commissioner. “Decisions by the Supreme Court and other courts have clearly established the fundamental character of these obligations”.

Those who feel their language rights have not been respected may submit a complaint to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. “The investigations we carry out and the recommendations we make to government help to improve the delivery of bilingual services in our province,” the Commissioner said.

This new factsheet is the third in a series on language rights produced by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. More factsheets will be published over the next few months.

This initiative ties in with the Commissioner’s mandate to promote the advancement of both official languages. It also seeks to follow up on the 2013 Report of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act in which the Committee expressed hope that “the Commissioner would make greater efforts to improve public awareness of [her] role.”

To consult and print out the first three factsheets on language rights, visit the website of the Office of the Commissioner at http://www.officiallanguages.nb.ca (My Rights section).

For further information:

Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca


About the Commissioner of Official Languages

The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is an independent officer of the Legislature. Her role is to protect the language rights of the members of the Anglophone and Francophone communities and to promote the advancement of both official languages.