Frequently Asked Questions
Is New Brunswick Canada’s only officially bilingual province? Why?
Yes, New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially bilingual province. This is because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically recognizes that English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick. The Charter also states that both Anglophone and Francophone communities in the province have equality of status and equal rights and privileges.
What is the purpose of New Brunswick’s Official Languages Act?
Among other things, the Act imposes on provincial government institutions (departments, Crown corporations, hospitals, police services, etc.) the obligation to serve members of the public in the official language of their choice. Learn more about your rights by visiting My linguistic rights section.
Do I have to request service in my language or must it be offered to me?
Upon first contact, provincial institutions must offer you service in both official languages. That’s what is called an active offer. For example, when you phone a provincial department, the employee who answers must greet you in both official languages. That lets you know that you have the right to be served by the government in English or French.
Does the Official Languages Act apply to schools?
No. School districts, public schools, community centres, community colleges, and universities do not have to offer services in both official languages.
Do private companies have to offer service in both official languages?
No. However, a private company that provides a service on behalf of the New Brunswick government must serve you in the official language of your choice.
Is the aim of the Official Languages Act to make all New Brunswickers bilingual?
No. The Act in no way forces people to be bilingual. The Act gives people the right to receive government services in the official language of their choice.
Do English and French services have to be of equal quality?
Yes. The Official Languages Act states that English and French have equality of status as to their use within the provincial government.
The Official Languages Act applies across the province. Wouldn’t it be simpler to designate some Anglophone regions, some Francophone regions, and some bilingual regions?
There are Anglophone and Francophone communities throughout New Brunswick. If the Official Languages Act applied only in certain regions, some residents would not get government services in their official language of choice. That is why the Act applies across New Brunswick.
What should I do if I don’t get a government service in my language of choice?
You may file a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick. See the Filing a Complaint section.
Do all civil servants need to be bilingual?
No. The New Brunswick government does not require that all employees be bilingual. However, a sufficient number of positions have to be filled by people who can communicate in both official languages. This is necessary in order for government departments and agencies to serve the public equally in both official languages.
What does the Commissioner of Official Languages do?
The position of Commissioner was created by the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick in 2002. The Commissioner has two responsibilities. The first is to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act. To do that, the Commissioner receives complaints from the public, conducts investigations, and if necessary, makes recommendations. The second responsibility is to promote the advancement of both official languages in the province.