August 13, 2021

Message for National Acadian Day

Fredericton, August 13, 2021 – Shirley MacLean, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, invites all New Brunswickers to celebrate National Acadian Day this Sunday, August 15, 2021.

“Whether we are Francophones or Anglophones, August 15 is a special day that allows us to celebrate the resilience and joie de vivre of the Acadian people,” said Commissioner MacLean. “I invite all of my fellow New Brunswickers to take advantage of this day to discover and celebrate Acadian history, customs, and culture.”

August 15 celebrations are being held in many cities and municipalities across the province. There is often traditional Acadian music and a tintamarre, a walk in the streets making noise to demonstrate the vitality and solidarity of Acadian society and to remind others of the Acadian presence.

“Francophones and Acadians make up about a third of our province,” added Commissioner MacLean. “It is by knowing each other and learning to understand each other that we will succeed in bringing our two linguistic communities together. Happy National Acadian Day to everyone!”

 

Media contact:
Véronique Taylor
Communications, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444 (toll free)
Veronique.Taylor@gnb.ca

July 15, 2021

Recommendations for improving the Official Languages Act

Fredericton, July 15, 2021 – Shirley MacLean, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, has presented her recommendations for the review of the Official Languages Act. In a brief entitled Greater respect for language rights through improvements to the Official Languages Act, the commissioner provides 23 recommendations to improve the Act and advance towards the substantive equality of both official languages and the two official language communities.

“The review of the Official Languages Act is an opportunity to strengthen the Act to protect our official languages,” said Commissioner MacLean. “Since we work closely with the Act, the Office of the Commissioner is well positioned to identify which aspects of the Act can be improved to ensure respect for language rights in our province.”

The following subjects can be found among the 23 recommendations in the Office of the Commissioner’s brief:

  • a series of recommendations to clarify the linguistic obligations of local governments;
  • legislating the right of provincial public servants to work in the official language of their choice;
  • the designation of an Official Languages Secretariat, a government entity responsible for supporting the Premier in the implementation of the Act;
  • the requirement for all future Legislative Officers to be bilingual;
  • amending the commissioner’s mandate from seven years to ten years, nonrenewable; and
  • a series of recommendations to improve compliance with the Act and with the commissioner’s recommendations.

Commissioner MacLean presented her recommendations to Judge Yvette Finn and Mr. John McLaughlin on Wednesday, July 14. Earlier this year, the Premier appointed these two independent commissioners to undertake a review of the Official Languages Act before December 31, 2021.

“I am confident that Commissioners Finn and McLaughlin will study the Office of the Commissioner’s recommendations closely,” Commissioner MacLean continued. “The New Brunswick Official Languages Act gives effect to obligations set out in the Canadian Constitution, our country’s most important legal document. It is imperative that this review strengthens New Brunswickers’ language rights. The Official Languages Act must evolve, much like our two official languages do over time.”

Full brief: Greater respect for language rights through improvements to the Official Languages Act
Brief submitted by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick concerning the review of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act

 

Media contact:
Véronique Taylor
Communications, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444 (toll-free)
Veronique.Taylor@gnb.ca

February 11, 2021

The Language Situation in New Brunswick: Worrying Trends and Some Encouraging Signs

Moncton, February 11, 2021 – Action on several fronts is necessary to mitigate or reverse some worrying trends relating to official languages in New Brunswick, particularly when it comes to the French-language community. These are the conclusions of a study conducted by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities on behalf of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

“Despite the existing legislative and constitutional protections that exist in New Brunswick, it is concerning to see the decline of French, which is the minority language in our province,” noted Shirley MacLean, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick. “The Official Languages Act recognizes that under the Canadian Constitution, the province has the authority to advance the equality of status of both official languages. This report contains important findings that can serve to influence public policy to increase equality between our two linguistic communities.”

The report, produced by Dominique Pépin-Filion in collaboration with Josée Guignard Noël and entitled The Language Situation in New Brunswick: Worrying Trends and Some Encouraging Signs, provides a snapshot of the situation of official languages and the linguistic minority in New Brunswick based on the themes and the data included in the Census Program. The latest available census data is from 2016.

“This study seeks to answer the following question: ‘What is the state of New Brunswick’s two official languages?’” stated Éric Forgues, Executive Director of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities. “The report explores several variables, including people’s private and public use of the languages, their knowledge of the languages, and individual bilingualism. It also reviews the situation of the province’s minority Francophone community and the factors that influence its sustainability, such as linguistic assimilation, the transmission of French, migration, and immigration.”

The report touches on seven main themes:

The evolution of the official languages: stability of English, but the slow decline of French

We continue to witness the slow decline in the relative weight of the French-language community. The percentage of New Brunswickers whose mother tongue is French reached a low of 31.9% in 2016, compared to 33.8% in 1971, while the percentage of people whose mother tongue is English has remained stable at approximately 65% of the population since 1971.

The languages used at home and their transmission: anglicization on the rise, but encouraging signs for French

Fewer than nine in 10 Francophones (86.8%) spoke their mother tongue most often at home compared to almost all Anglophones (98.5%). However, Francophones in mixed couples, particularly mothers, are increasingly passing on French to their children. It is now more than half (52.8%) of children with Francophone mothers in mixed couples who have French as their mother tongue, up from 43.8% in 2001.

The vitality of official languages: the gap between English and French continues to widen

There were 7% more people who spoke English most often at home in 2016 than there were English mother-tongue speakers in the province. However, there were 11% fewer people who spoke French most often at home than people whose mother tongue was French.

Individual bilingualism has stagnated for more than a decade

Nearly 250,000 people declared themselves bilingual (English-French) in New Brunswick in 2016, one-third (33.9%) of the province’s population. The bilingualism rate has been stagnating at 33% in New Brunswick for about 15 years. Francophones accounted for two-thirds (66.7%) of bilingual New Brunswickers in 2016, while Anglophones accounted for almost one-third (29.0%).

Official languages in the workplace

The use of English in the New Brunswick workplace has been steadily increasing since 2001 (+1.3 percentage points), while the use of French has slightly decreased (-0.3) compared to 2001. In 2016, 89.0% of New Brunswickers spoke English at least regularly at work, compared to 36.7% who spoke French.

Migration of Francophones and Anglophones in Canada: deceptive appearances

Anglophone migration rates were about twice as high as those of Francophones between 2011 and 2016. For example, 5.5% of the Anglophone population, but only 2.7% of Francophones in the province had left New Brunswick during this period.

Immigration and official languages

In New Brunswick, the recent surge in immigration helped push the provincial immigration rate up from 3.1% in 2001 to 4.6% in 2016. In 2016, immigration rates in the two official language communities were 5.5% for the Anglophone majority, but only 2% for the Francophone minority. In 2016, 91.8% of the province’s foreign-born population knew English, compared to only 24.8% who knew French.

Full report: The Language Situation in New Brunswick: Worrying Trends and Some Encouraging Signs

 

Media contact:
Véronique Taylor
Communications, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444 (toll-free)
Veronique.Taylor@gnb.ca

December 16, 2020

Commissioner MacLean tables her first Annual Report

Fredericton, December 16, 2020 – Shirley MacLean, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, tabled her first Annual Report since the beginning of her mandate in January 2020. Covering the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the report summarizes the complaints received during the year, provides a glimpse of the Office of the Commissioner’s recommended amendments for the upcoming review of the Official Languages Act (OLA), and highlights the promotional activities undertaken as part of the 50th anniversary of the OLA in 2019.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we still have a long way to go to achieving real equality between our two official languages in New Brunswick,” said Commissioner MacLean. “In March 2020, during the first month of the pandemic, the Office of the Commissioner received many complaints related to government news briefings on COVID-19. Deeming this situation urgent, our office made recommendations using the alternative resolution process. In times of crisis, it is important to ensure equal treatment of the province’s two official languages. Making one language available through interpretation only is not providing equal treatment of this language compared to the other.”

Between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, the Office of the Commissioner received 133 complaints. Of that number, 62 were admissible, with nine based on lack of service in English and 53 on lack of service in French.

Under the Official Languages Act, the Premier shall initiate a review of the Act, and the review shall be completed no later than December 31, 2021. The 2019-2020 Annual Report contains 12  recommendations to improve the OLA to facilitate advancement towards the equality of New Brunswick’s two official languages and two official language communities. Among other recommendations, the Commissioner suggests:

  • clarifying the obligations of police departments,
  • legislating the right of provincial public servants to work in the official language of their choice, and
  • implementing measures to improve compliance with the OLA, including imposing specific deadlines for replying to investigation reports and authorizing the use of enforcement agreements for institutions that contravene the OLA on a regular basis.

In 2019, New Brunswick celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act. The Office of the Commissioner created a series of promotional videos to mark the occasion. The videos highlighted the many benefits of having two official languages as well as the importance of accessing public services in one’s language of choice. The videos also paid tribute to all who put in considerable effort to learn the other official language. Shared online as well as broadcast on television, the videos were viewed over 100,000 times.

“I have learned so much in my first few months as Commissioner of Official Languages,” added Commissioner MacLean. “During the course of my mandate, I wish to not only fulfill my role as protector of the official language rights of all New Brunswickers, but hope to also be able to facilitate many conversations. Because it is through conversation that we will learn to understand each other and foster respect for our two official linguistic communities.”

 

Media contact:
Véronique Taylor
Communications, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444 (toll-free)
Veronique.Taylor@gnb.ca

November 18, 2020

Official languages and the power of the Legislature

The following opinion letter was submitted to New Brunswick’s daily newspapers on November 12, 2020 by the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Shirley C. MacLean, Q.C.

We have many reasons to be proud of our province. This pride of belonging resonates in all regions of New Brunswick for a variety of reasons: our great quality of life, our cultural diversity, our many natural wonders, and our warm and welcoming people.

We should all also be proud that our province is the only one to recognize English and French as its two official languages. In fact, New Brunswick’s Official Languages Act, first adopted in 1969, was even adopted before the federal Official Languages Act. In this regard, we are truly national trailblazers.

There is however a great deal of misinformation regarding the Official Languages Act and official bilingualism in New Brunswick. As the Legislature reconvenes in Fredericton, I call on our legislators, both seasoned and new, to stand up for language rights for all New Brunswickers.

Language rights in our province go beyond simple rights; they are obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Under the Charter, 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 the Government of New Brunswick. The Canadian constitution also confirms the authority of the Legislature and the Government of New Brunswick to advance the status, rights and privileges of our province’s two official languages.

Although it is part of my mandate to investigate, submit reports, and make recommendations aimed at ensuring compliance with the Official Languages Act, my role is also to promote the advancement of both official languages in the province. That said, it is also incumbent on our provincial legislators to promote the advancement of our two official languages as enshrined in the Charter.

We do not have to look far to see a linguistic divide in our province today. As Bernard Richard said so well in an editorial about New Brunswick’s two linguistic communities following the September 14 election: “La réalité demeure qu’on se connaît mal et qu’on ne se comprend pas.” (The reality remains that we don’t know each other very well and that we don’t understand each other.)

It is with this in mind that I invite our elected provincial officials to set a good example and learn about the legislative framework of official languages in our province, and in addition to go even further and revisit and seek to understand the cultural history that led to the creation of a bilingual New Brunswick. In short, we must not simply understand language rights, but also understand why these rights exist.

The Sixtieth Legislature of New Brunswick, which will open in the coming days, presents a golden opportunity for our legislators to demonstrate a real commitment to language rights. The last review of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act in 2013 requires a review of the latter no later than December 31, 2021. This review process will allow Members of the Legislative Assembly to survey New Brunswickers and experts in the field to identify the legislative changes necessary to ensure respect for English and French as official languages and to ensure the equality of status and equal rights and privileges of the official languages with regard to their use in all the Province’s institutions.

The Official Languages Act prevails over almost all other Acts in our province. This status reflects the importance given to language rights within our legislative framework. The review of the Official Languages Act is a task fraught with responsibilities that will require diligent and persistent work. It will be necessary to know how to refute the “common sense” discourse and improve the Act in order to protect the interests of our linguistic communities. We will have to seek to improve the Act to ensure that the government complies with its constitutional obligations with respect to our two official languages. Because it is by advancing the equal use of English and French in the institutions of the Province that we will contribute to the vitality of our official languages, and more particularly to the vitality and protection of the French language, which is in a minority situation across much of the province.

It is about time we learned to understand each other in New Brunswick. Different political ideologies will continue to exist indefinitely, and some areas of our province will remain basically more Francophone or more Anglophone; that is nothing new. Nevertheless, all of our elected representatives must recognize the merits and the importance of the Official Languages Act. Such recognition from the seat of democracy in New Brunswick can only promote the progress of respect for our two official linguistic communities and contribute to the vitality of our two official languages.

August 14, 2020

Statement by Official Languages Commissioner Shirley MacLean on the occasion of National Acadian Day

Fredericton, August 14, 2020 – The following statement was issued today by Official Languages Commissioner Shirley MacLean on the occasion of National Acadian Day:

On August 15, we celebrate the language, culture and history of our Acadian friends and neighbours.

This year’s celebration may not look like those of past years. Even so, it will serve as an important reminder to reflect on all that the Acadian people have given our province – including the bilingual identity we work to protect and promote every day.

I encourage all New Brunswickers to take pride in our Acadian heritage, as well as to recognize and appreciate the unique value of our two languages in making us the only officially bilingual province we are today.

Happy National Acadian Day!
Bonne fête des Acadiens!

For more information:
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506 444-4229 or 1 888 651-6444 (toll free)
commissioner@officiallanguages.nb.ca

 

October 4, 2019

The Commissioner of Official Languages presents his 2018-2019 Annual Report

Fredericton, October 4, 2019 – Acting Commissioner of Official Languages, Michel Carrier, today presented his annual report for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. As the province celebrates 50 years of official languages this year, Michel Carrier urges the provincial government to provide the means to meet the many remaining challenges to attaining equality of both official languages in the province. Hence, Commissioner Carrier recommends that the government create an Official Languages Secretariat.

“Over the past 50 years, we have made tremendous progress,” said Mr. Carrier. “But we still have a long way to go. The vitality of the French language is fragile, the provision of bilingual services in some hospitals is not ensured, our two linguistic communities do not benefit equally from immigration, English is the preferred language of work in the public service, and we must increase opportunities for people to learn the other official language. The magnitude of these and other challenges requires the government to develop the appropriate means and resources to take them on.”

In his message, Michel Carrier recalls that an investigation conducted by the Office of the Commissioner in 2018 revealed that the provincial government is having great difficulty implementing the Plan on Official Languages – a plan designed to move toward greater equality in the use of English and French in New Brunswick. The Office of the Commissioner concluded that the lack of a structure and of adequate resources to implement the Plan explains this situation.

“How can it be explained that the only officially bilingual province in the country does not have a specific government agency with the necessary powers and resources to ensure compliance with the obligations contained in the Charter and the Official Languages Act,” asks Michel Carrier. “On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the OLA, it is time for our province to have an Official Languages Secretariat.”

Ambulance NB’s linguistic obligations

A chapter of the 2018-2019 Annual Report is devoted to the language obligations of Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB). The Office of the Commissioner presents a detailed retrospective of its interventions in this area since the establishment of ANB in 2007. Included in this review is the action taken by the Office of the Commissioner to persuade the provincial government not to implement arbitrator McEvoy’s decision and to maintain the application for judicial review of this decision.

Commissioner Carrier is very satisfied with the outcome of this case. “The Court of Queen’s Bench reversed the arbitrator’s decision and made it clear that ANB must provide services of equal quality to all Anglophone and Francophone New Brunswickers,” said Michel Carrier. “The court’s decision reminds us that language rights are not negotiable.”

Complaints and investigations

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the Office of the Commissioner received 89 admissible complaints. Of these, 75 were complaints about services in French; 14, on services in English. The annual report presents several summaries of investigations, including one on the use of the Facebook Live tool without simultaneous interpretation at a government press conference, the other on the linguistic obligations of nursing homes in the province. The absence of a policy on government signage which considers the linguistic composition of regions is also presented. Commissioner Carrier believes that the lack of such a policy on government signage is a direct consequence of the absence of a government agency whose primary responsibility would be to ensure respect of the Official Languages Act. Carrier has been waiting for such a policy for almost 10 years now.

Videos to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act

Commissioner Carrier took advantage of the presentation of his annual report to announce the upcoming release of a series of video capsules on social media.

“Half a century of official languages, that is quite an accomplishment,” said Carrier. “We need to celebrate what makes us unique in Canada, being the only officially bilingual province.”

The first two capsules will feature short testimonials from New Brunswickers from all walks of life. Other capsules will honour all those who have made the effort to learn French or English.

“Our two official languages are at the heart of our collective identity,” said Carrier. “New Brunswickers, both Anglophones and Francophones, can be proud of what they have accomplished together over the last 50 years. These capsules are a way to celebrate this success.”

They were produced by Moncton’s BrainWorks with the financial support of the governments of New Brunswick and Canada, and will be broadcast during the months of October and November 2019.

 

For more information:

Hugues Beaulieu
Executive Director
506 444-4229 or 1 888 651-6444 (toll free)
hugues.beaulieu@gnb.ca

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2019

A working group to increase the economic benefits of bilingualism

Moncton, June 3, 2019 – The New Brunswick Business Council and the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick announced today that they will create a working group to increase the economic benefits of bilingualism in the province. Thus, they are implementing the main recommendation of the study by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick: Two languages: It’s good for business.

The authors of this study, economist Pierre-Marcel Desjardins and economic development specialist David Campbell, presented an update of their study when the creation of the working group was announced.

Two languages: It’s good for business presents nine major economic benefits attributable to the province’s bilingual character and workforce. For example, thanks to its two official languages, New Brunswick has a customer contact center and back office industry generating $ 1.5 billion annually in export revenues and employs more than 15,000 people in the province. In this regard, unilingual English individuals in the province represent the majority of employees in this industry. Indeed, every bilingual job created in the customer contact centers resulted in the creation of two unilingual English jobs. Among the other benefits of bilingualism, the authors highlight its key role in the development of a language industry, in the growth of export revenues and in the development of the tourism industry.

The authors of the study also propose ways to consolidate these gains and exploit the full economic potential of bilingualism. Finally, they recommend the creation of a business / government council to achieve this goal.

Representatives from the working group explained that they want to create a synergy to further take advantage of the bilingual character of the province. They also noted that other stakeholders may join the group.

Opportunities NB will provide a perspective to the working group on behalf of New Brunswick’s economic development sector.

Quote from Michel A. Carrier, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick

I congratulate and thank the New Brunswick Business Council, the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick and Opportunities New Brunswick for their leadership on this important file for the prosperity of our province.

Quote from Adrienne O’Pray, President & CEO of the New Brunswick Business Council

The Business Council believes that there is even greater opportunity for the province in terms of economic growth that is yet untapped for New Brunswick. We are looking forward, once again, to working in partnership with le Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick and Opportunities New Brunswick to diversify our economy and taking advantage of this incredible asset we have in bilingualism.

Quote from Thomas Raffy, CEO of the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick

Economic bilingualism has long been an important issue for the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick and its members, who see it as a powerful driver of development for our province. As this study reconfirms, the bilingualism of our workforce is an indisputable asset that we must use to diversify our economy. We are very pleased to be part of this working group whose actions will have a real impact on our future.

Quote from Stephen Lund, CEO of Opportunities New Brunswick

We recognize the benefits of bilingualism to our economy and the significant role it plays in driving private sector investment in New Brunswick. We are pleased to see these organizations working together on this important initiative.

Backgrounder

Infographic Two Languages: It’s good for Business

Study Two Languages: It’s good for Business

For more information:

Hugues Beaulieu
Executive Director
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

Donald Hammond
Acting Vice President
Opportunities New Brunswick
506-238-4606
Donald.Hammond@onbcanada.ca
Adrienne O’Pray
President & CEO
New Brunswick Business Council
506-962-2575
adrienne.opray@nbbc-cenb.ca

Thomas Raffy
CEO
Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick
506-857-3143
thomas@cenb.com

April 12, 2019

Message from the Commissioner of Official Languages on the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act

Fifty years ago, New Brunswick became an officially bilingual province. A law was passed and a movement of equality was launched. The Official Languages Act has transformed this province.

I was a young adult in 1969, and I can attest to the tremendous progress we have made. In this province today, public services are generally provided in both official languages. Our two linguistic communities have distinct institutions to ensure their development. Anglophones and Francophones are present in all areas of activity and at all levels of responsibility, and the bilingual nature of our province generates significant economic benefits for all. So much has been accomplished in this half century!

This fiftieth anniversary must first be an opportunity to pay tribute to visionaries: premiers Louis J. Robichaud and Richard Hatfield. Both were driven by the same vision, that is, two equal, dynamic linguistic communities, living in harmony. Over the last five decades, English and French New Brunswickers have embraced this vision, and through their hard work have ensured that it has flourished. Today, we thank all these stakeholders, teachers, elected officials, civil servants, jurists and citizens who have greatly helped to make this noble project a reality.

A sign of respect, a symbol of equality, and an instrument of unity, the Official Languages Act has contributed to make our province a great place to live. Although some challenges remain, our past successes give us the greatest hopes for the future.

New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province. We must continue to be a model for our country.

We have come a long way and together, we will go further. Happy 50th anniversary!

Michel A. Carrier, Q.C.

June 20, 2018

Annual Report 2017-2018

Fredericton, June 20, 2018 – The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont, recommends establishing an Official Languages Secretariat to support the Premier in carrying out his primary responsibility, the administration of the Official Languages Act (OLA), as provided for in section 2 of this Act.

Commissioner d’Entremont made this recommendation following an investigation into the government’s Plan on Official Languages. The investigation was launched after the Premier submitted his first evaluation report on the Plan in March 2017. The Office of the Commissioner concluded that the Plan, which must ensure compliance with the OLA, was not achieving the objectives established by the Act.

“The government plan is yielding very few concrete results,” Katherine d’Entremont said. “Our investigation revealed a sizeable obstacle to implementing the Plan: the lack of an adequate structure and adequate resources to assist the Premier in the administration of the Act, including the Plan on Official Languages. On the one hand, there is no official languages department or secretariat, and therefore no deputy minister whose primary responsibility is official languages. Yet there are deputy minister or assistant deputy minister positions for specific areas such as Corporate Communications, Special Initiatives, and Women’s Equality. On the other hand, there are lower-level public servants in charge of various aspects of official languages in three different departments: Executive Council Office, Treasury Board, and Service New Brunswick. It is therefore not surprising that the government is having difficulty implementing the Plan and complying with the OLA.”

In its report, the Office of the Commissioner highlights that the government is indeed able to equip itself with structures and methods to achieve specific objectives. The Office of the Commissioner gives the example of the Office of Strategy Management, a component of the Executive Council Office, which supports the work of a vast network of public servants, known as champions, who work on achieving strategic government objectives.

“The size and scope of the strategic management measures used by the government strongly contrast with the weaker measures used to implement the government’s Plan on Official Languages and ensure compliance with the OLA,” the Commissioner added. “Yet New Brunswick’s language obligations are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution, which is not the case for management objectives. New Brunswick must adopt an appropriate structure to comply with the OLA and ensure the implementation of the Plan on Official Languages.”

Update on the Vitality of Official Languages

The 2017-2018 Annual Report of the Office of the Commissioner also presents the highlights of a study on the vitality of French and English in New Brunswick, prepared for the Office of the Commissioner by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities (CIRLM). Some worrying trends for the French language emerge from this study.

• The percentage of New Brunswickers whose mother tongue is French reached a low of 31.9% in 2016, compared to 33.8% in 1971, while the percentage of people whose mother tongue is English has remained stable at approximately 65% of the population since 1971.
• The unequal dynamic between the minority language and the majority language favours the anglicization of some Francophones. For example, 6.6% of Francophones no longer spoke their mother tongue regularly at home in 2016, compared to only 0.7% of Anglophones. The anglicization of Francophones, which was 5.8 % in 2006, has therefore increased over the last 10 years.
• Less than half (46.5%) of public servants who lived in French also spoke it most often at work in 2016. By comparison, nearly all public servants (95%) who lived in English also spoke it most often at work in 2016.
• In 2016, about one in 10 recent immigrants (11.4%) had French as their first official language spoken, while 7 out of 10 (72.0%) had English as their first official language spoken.

The highlights also include an encouraging sign for the French language. Francophones in mixed couples, particularly mothers, are increasingly passing on French to their children. It is now more than half (52.8%) of children with Francophone mothers in mixed couples who have French as their mother tongue, up from 43.8% in 2001.

“The future vitality of the French language in New Brunswick is far from assured,” continued Commissioner d’Entremont. “The CIRLM study shows us that the future of the language depends on many interconnected factors. Effective and coordinated action must be taken on all of these vitality factors to ensure the future of the French language in New Brunswick.”

Complaints and Investigations

The Office of the Commissioner received 79 admissible complaints in fiscal year 2017-2018. Of this number, 64 complaints concerned services in French, and 15 were about services in English. Furthermore, two investigations were launched on the Commissioner’s own initiative: one on the government’s Plan on Official Languages (completed); the other on the administration of the OLA in nursing homes in the province (underway).

Final Annual Report by Commissioner d’Entremont

Katherine d’Entremont presented her fifth and final annual report. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the OLA, Commissioner d’Entremont states that New Brunswick has reached a crossroads.

“Complying with the OLA, ensuring the vitality of the French language, promoting the use of both official languages at work, maintaining the demographic weight of the two official linguistic communities, taking advantage of our bilingualism, these are all objectives that must be achieved in the nation’s only officially bilingual province. For this to happen, New Brunswick must firmly commit to the pursuit of progress. We first need strong leadership. There then needs to be a coordinated strategy, because the challenges are too big and too intrinsically linked for a decentralized approach. Lastly, appropriate human and financial resources are required. New Brunswick can, and must take action to achieve this great societal project: the equality of our two official languages and communities.’’

For more information:
Hugues Beaulieu
Executive Director
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506 444-4229

2017-2018 Annual Report
Backgrounder

Recommendations of the Commissioner of Official Languages following her investigation of the Plan on Official Languages

Having completed this investigation, the Commissioner makes the following recommendations:

That an Official Languages Secretariat be established. It must:

• be placed directly under the authority of the Clerk of the Executive Council and Head of the Civil Service;
• be headed by someone with Deputy Minister status; and
• have an appropriate budget and staff with respect to its responsibilities of supporting the Premier in his primary responsibility of administering the Official Languages Act.

That the Official Languages Secretariat have the following responsibilities:

• general supervision of the administration of the OLA;
• coordination of the mandatory review process of the OLA;
• development, review, supervision, and evaluation of the Official Languages Implementation Plan;
• provision of advice to all parts of the Public Service on the application of the OLA;
• development and monitoring of the application of the Language of Work Policy and Language of Service Policy;
• compilation and publication of statistical data to measure the progress towards the equality of use of English and French within the different Parts of the Public Service; and
• the preparation of an annual report on the state of official languages in New Brunswick.

Highlights of the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities study

EVOLUTION OF THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: STABILITY OF ENGLISH,
BUT A SLOW DECLINE OF FRENCH

• With regard to the evolution of the relative share of the official languages, there is generally a stabilization of the English language, but a slow decline of the French language.
• We continue to witness the slow decline in the relative weight of the French-language community. The percentage of New Brunswickers whose mother tongue is French reached a low of 31.9% in 2016, compared to 33.8% in 1971, while the percentage of people whose mother tongue is English has remained stable at approximately 65% of the population since 1971.
• There is a decline in the use of French at home, while the use of English is increasing. The use of French most often at home has decreased by almost 3 percentage points since 1981 to 28.6%, while the use of English most often has increased by two percentage points to 69.5%.
• The percentage of people who regularly use a second language at home has been increasing, regardless of language, since at least 2001.
• Immigration and the anglicization of immigrants and their children have disproportionately benefited the English-language community. The anglicization of some Francophones has also favoured the preservation of English.

THE LANGUAGES USED AT HOME AND THEIR TRANSMISSION:
ANGLICIZATION ON THE RISE, BUT SOME ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR FRENCH

A slight decline in the retention of French at home

• Fewer than 9 in 10 Francophones (86.8%) spoke their mother tongue most often at home compared to almost all Anglophones (98.5%).
• The unequal dynamic between the minority language and the majority language favours the anglicization of some Francophones. For example, 6.6% of Francophones no longer spoke their mother tongue regularly at home in 2016, compared to only 0.7% of Anglophones. The anglicization of Francophones, which was 5.8 % in 2006, has therefore increased over the last 10 years.
• The retention of French decreases with age and over time, so that the minority language slowly takes a back seat for some Francophones, who use it only regularly instead of speaking it most often at home. French took a back seat at home for 8.3% of Francophones aged 25 to 44 in 2016.

The transmission of languages in mixed couples: half of Francophone mothers pass on French

• Mixed-couple parents pass on much less French than those with the same mother tongue. Only 4 out of 10 children from mixed couples in which only one spouse was Francophone had French as their mother tongue in 2016.
• Increasingly, Francophones in mixed couples, particularly mothers, are passing on French to their children. It is now more than half (52.8%) of children with Francophone mothers in mixed couples who have French as their mother tongue, up from 43.8% in 2001. Therefore, there is a noticeable increase in the transmission of French in mixed couples, especially those where the mother is Francophone, which indicates an improvement in the status of the minority language over time. However, the gap persists compared to English, and the transmission dynamics are still unequal between the province’s official languages.

THE VITALITY OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGES:
THE GAP BETWEEN ENGLISH AND FRENCH CONTINUES TO WIDEN

• There were 7% more people who spoke English most often at home in 2016 than there were English mother-tongue speakers in the province. However, there were 11% fewer people who spoke French most often at home than people whose mother tongue was French.
• There were 18% more people who spoke English at least regularly at home than people whose mother tongue was English in the province in 2016. In comparison, there were only 2% more people who spoke French at least regularly at home than there were people whose mother tongue was French.
• Both indices show that the vitality of both official languages remains uneven, to the advantage of English. The vitality gap between the two official languages continues to widen. Over a period of 35 years, the vitality gap between French and English mainly spoken at home has increased from 11 to 18 points.

INDIVIDUAL BILINGUALISM HAS STAGNATED FOR MORE THAN A DECADE

• Nearly 250,000 people declared themselves bilingual (English-French) in New Brunswick in 2016, one-third (33.9%) of the province’s population.
• New Brunswick had the lowest growth in the number of bilingual persons (1.7%) of all Canadian provinces between 2011 and 2016, with a national average of 7.3% over the same period. This is likely a consequence of the slight decrease in the province’s population, the decline in access to immersion programs since 2008, and the cyclical inter-provincial migrations, which are more likely to affect bilingual individuals in the province at the beginning and end of their careers during an economic slowdown like the one that followed the 2008-2009 recession. Further research would be required to confirm this.
• The bilingualism rate has been stagnating at 33% in New Brunswick for about 15 years. Encouragingly, we note a slight increase (+0.7 percentage point) in the bilingualism rate between 2011 and 2016.
• Francophones accounted for two-thirds (66.7%) of bilingual New Brunswickers in 2016, while Anglophones accounted for almost one-third (29.0%).
• The past increase in bilingualism among Anglophones is largely attributable to the fact that younger generations born after the mid-1960s had access to immersion programs. Immersion programs have had a lasting effect on the bilingualism of the English-language community and, consequently, on that of New Brunswick as a whole.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES IN THE WORKPLACE

Official languages in the New Brunswick job market

• The use of English in the New Brunswick workplace has been steadily increasing since 2001 (+1.3 percentage points), while the use of French has slightly decreased (-0.3) compared to 2001. In 2016, 89.0% of New Brunswickers spoke English at least regularly at work, compared to 36.7% who spoke French.
• The use of official languages varies by economic sector. The use of French most often was significantly higher in agriculture, forestry, and fishing (37.1%), manufacturing (33.0%), educational services (31.6%) and health care and social assistance (28.3%).
• In contrast, the main use of English was higher in the public service (90.5%), real estate (85.8%) and administrative (83.8%) sectors, wholesaling (83.8%), transportation and warehousing (83.2%), information and cultural industries (80.7%) and manufacturing subsectors of paper (83.7%), oil and gas extraction (96.7%) and its support activities (93.8%), the latter two subsectors including workers with circular migrations in the West.
• Bilingualism at work was higher in the public service (41.2%), finance and insurance (34.4%) and retail (27.5%) sectors, as well as in the subsectors of air transportation (42.2%) and rail (38.7%), heritage institutions (42.6%), hospitals (41.9%) and outpatient care services (33.9%).

• To what extent do New Brunswickers who live most often in French at home also work most often in the minority language? Almost 70% of New Brunswick Francophones (69.4%) who spoke French most often at home also spoke it most often at work in 2016.

Increasing bilingualism in the public sector

• The use of French in the various levels of the public sector has increased significantly thanks to the rise of bilingualism among public servants. Bilingualism at work among public sector employees in the province went from 35.5% in 2001 to 41.2% in 2016.
• The use of official languages varies by level of government and occupation. The higher the level of government, the more employees spoke mainly English, to the detriment of French. This hierarchical linguistic division is also found among the occupations within the public service.
• To what extent do New Brunswick public servants who live primarily in French at home also work most often in the minority language? Less than half (46.5%) of public servants who lived in French also spoke it most often at work in 2016 (percentages being 72.7% for municipal public servants, 53.8% for provincial ones and only 35.6% for federal public servants). Many had to work most often in the majority language before they could speak the language of their choice. By comparison, nearly all public servants (95%) who lived in English also spoke it most often at work in 2016, (percentages being 96.8% for municipal public servants, 94.8% for provincial ones and 94.4% for federal public servants).

IMMIGRATION AND OFFICIAL LANGUAGES

Immigration in Atlantic Canada and in New Brunswick

• More and more immigrants are settling in the Atlantic Provinces and New Brunswick, although immigration rates are among the lowest in Canada. In New Brunswick, the recent surge in immigration helped push the provincial immigration rate up from 3.1% in 2001 to 4.6% in 2016.

An increase in the number of Francophone immigrants, despite stagnation in the number of newcomers

• In 2016, immigration rates in the two official language communities were 5.5% for the Anglophone majority, but only 2% for the Francophone minority.
• Close to 1 in 10 (9.6%) immigrants living in New Brunswick in 2016 had French as their mother tongue, compared to 4 in 10 (41.6%) whose mother tongue was English. The proportion of immigrants whose mother tongue is French has been stable since 2001, thanks to a growth in Francophone populations that has been proportional to the growth of the province’s total immigrant population. The proportion of immigrants whose mother tongue was English, however, declined, reaching 41.6% in 2016, compared to 60.6% in 2001, due to the increase in the number of non-official language immigrants.
• There was a significant increase (+ 29%) in the number of immigrants whose mother tongue was French (+730), going from 2,530 in 2011 to 3,260 in 2016. This net increase in the balance of immigrants whose mother tongue is French in the province could be explained by the arrival of new Francophone immigrants directly from abroad, but also from other provinces, and above all by a better retention of Francophone immigrants already settled in the province.
• In 2016, there was only a slight increase in the number of Francophone immigrants recently arriving from abroad. These recent immigrants whose mother tongue is French, however, represented more than a quarter (27.5%) of recent immigrants whose mother tongue was official in the province, a percentage that, for the first time, is approaching the demographic weight of the Francophone community in New Brunswick.

Integration of immigrants into the official language communities

• The vast majority (94.7%) of New Brunswick residents who were born abroad could conduct a conversation in English or French in 2016. Only 5.4% of immigrants reported that they did not know one of the province’s official languages. In fact, in 2016, 91.8% of the province’s foreign-born population knew English, compared to only 24.8% who knew French.
• The average age of immigrants is lower than the average provincial age, which helps stabilize the youth population despite the aging of the population. For example, immigrants make up only 2% of Francophones in New Brunswick, but 6.7% of French-mother-tongue children in the province are children of immigrants. By comparison, Anglophone immigrants represent 5.5% of Anglophones, but almost 10% (9.6%) of Anglophone children in New Brunswick are of immigrant origin.
• When publishing the 2016 Census data, Statistics Canada noted that outside of Quebec, immigrants in New Brunswick live the most in French, although there are 5 times more immigrants who speak English (62.3%) most often at home, with only 12.0% who speak French most often at home.
• In 2016, about 1 in 10 recent immigrants (11.4%) had French as their first official language spoken, while 7 out of 10 (72.0%) had English as their first official language spoken.

April 13, 2018

Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick Announces Retirement

Fredericton, April 13, 2018 – New Brunswick’s Commissioner of Official Languages, Katherine d’Entremont, announced her retirement today effective July 22, 2018.

In a letter informing the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of her decision, Ms. d’Entremont stated that following a 37-year public service career, the last five of which have been as Commissioner, it is time for other pursuits.

‘’I wish to express my appreciation to all New Brunswickers who call on the services of the Office”, said Commissioner d’Entremont. “Their complaints allow us to highlight problems with the administration of the Official Languages Act and make recommendations aimed at ensuring public services of equal quality in both official languages.”

Katherine d’Entremont was appointed Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick in June 2013. She will present her fifth and final Annual Report in June 2018.

“Protecting and promoting New Brunswickers’ language rights has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,” d’Entremont continued. “I am proud to have contributed to the equality of our two official languages and our two linguistic communities, a most noble societal project.’’

Note:
The Commissioner will not grant end of mandate interviews to the media prior to the tabling of the office’s 2017-2018 Annual Report, planned for June 2018.

Media Contact

Hugues Beaulieu
Executive Director
506-444-4229 or 1-888-651-6444
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

September 1, 2017

Statement by Katherine d’Entremont, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick

In February 2016 I expressed great concerns about the plan to transfer management of the Extra-Mural Program and Tele-Care to Medavie. At that time, I stated: “Medavie EMS manages Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB). Since its creation in 2007, ANB has had considerable difficulty respecting its language obligations. I am therefore quite concerned about the plan to transfer the management of other public programs to Medavie EMS.”

Today, the Minister of Health announced the transfer of the management of the Extra-Mural Program and Tele-Care to Medavie. Therefore, I am seeking clarifications from the Minister of Health on the measures planned to guarantee the respect of citizens’ language rights as well as to ensure the vitality of our two official languages, including the following:

  1. Other than an expected clause pertaining to the respect of the Official Languages Act (OLA) obligations in the contract between the provincial government and Medavie, what controls does the Department plan to put in place to ensure that Medavie complies with its language obligations at all times?
  2. Given that non-compliance with the OLA is often related to poor planning in the recruitment of bilingual staff and second-language training for employees, is the Department requiring that Medavie develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that it has the staff necessary to provide bilingual service throughout the province at all times?
  3. Given that each health network has its own language of operation, some Extra-Mural program employees are currently supervised, and receive human resources services and professional development in French; others, in English. What measures are planned to guarantee that employees will continue to be supervised and receive services in the language currently used in their health network?

In view of the many challenges Ambulance NB continues to experience in delivering bilingual services, and this, more than 10 years since its creation, I still have major concerns about the transfer of the management of the Extra-Mural Program and Tele-Care to Medavie. This initiative must be accompanied by effective means of ensuring full compliance with the Official Languages Act in addition to contributing to the vitality of our two official languages.

***

About the language obligations of government when contracting with a third party

Section 30 of the Official Languages Act (OLA) of New Brunswick provides that when the Province or an institution engages a third party to provide a service on its behalf, the Province or the institution, as the case may be, is responsible for ensuring that its linguistic obligations under the OLA are met by the third party.

In the past, Commissioner d’Entremont has pointed out that the government maintains full responsibility for compliance with the OLA when it entrusts a company with the delivery of a service on its behalf.

“Section 30 of the Act specifies that the government has an obligation to ensure that the third party honours the Province’s linguistic obligations, which means that the government cannot divest itself of its responsibility if the third party does not comply with the Official Languages Act.”

Moreover, the Commissioner has urged the government to be clear with third party service providers on the consequences of not respecting the Official Languages Act.

“Government must clearly indicate to its private sector service providers that non-compliance with the government’s linguistic obligations may result in termination of the contract.”

For further information:

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