COMMISSIONER OF OFFICIAL LANGUAGES FOR NEW BRUNSWICK
2011-2012 ANNUAL REPORT
Commissioner calls on government to improve Official Languages Act
Fredericton, October 11, 2012 – Michel Carrier, the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, is calling on the provincial government to improve the Official Languages Act in order to achieve greater progress towards the equality of English and French in New Brunswick. In his 2011-2012 annual report, Carrier again proposes a series of amendments to the Act.
“The revision of the Act is important because it provides us with an opportunity to move closer to achieving linguistic equality In New Brunswick,” Carrier said. "This revision must propel us forward, not maintain the status quo.”
The Commissioner’s proposals include the right of public servants to work in the official language of their choice, linguistic obligations for professional associations, and better protection of language rights in public-private partnerships.
In his annual report, From Words to Actions, Carrier paints a nuanced portrait of progress regarding official languages in the province. He says he is delighted that the government is implementing the Government Plan on Official Languages: Official Bilingualism – A Strength. He thinks this initiative should enable the government to better meet its linguistic obligations in terms of the delivery of bilingual services to the public. However, when it comes to language of work within the provincial public service, the Commissioner notes that additional measures need to be taken to ensure a more balanced use of French and English. “The government plan contains few innovative measures for creating a true bilingual work environment within the public service,” Carrier said. Moreover, he believes that the provincial government must show rigour in order to achieve its goal of increasing bilingualism among senior public servants.
The Commissioner refers in his annual report to certain progress made in the wake of his recommendations, in particular with respect to early childhood services. However, he is still waiting for a provincial immigration policy to be adopted. “Last year, I recommended that the government adopt clear guidelines to ensure that its immigration practices benefit both linguistic communities equally,” Carrier said. “The government told me that such a policy was being developed. I'm eager to see it."
In 2011-2012, the Commissioner’s office handled 203 complaints, most having to do with the lack of French-language services.
During the news conference, Carrier noted that 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the entrenchment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the equal status of the two official linguistic communities in New Brunswick. “The equality of status of our two linguistic communities is not just symbolic,” he said. “The government actually has a constitutional obligation to protect and promote this status and equal rights. The revision of the Official Languages Act provides an opportunity to comply fully with the letter and spirit of this constitutional commitment, in short to go from words to actions,” the Commissioner concluded.
The 2011-2012 annual report is available online.
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