Commissioner Carrier presents his final annual report
Fredericton, June 10, 2013 – The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Michel Carrier, tabled his final annual report today. As he completes his second mandate, Mr. Carrier believes that the Legislative Assembly and the provincial government need to do more in order to preserve the vitality of the French language in New Brunswick.
The Commissioner’s annual report provides an analysis of the 2011 census data, carried out by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities. The analysis confirms a slight decline in the use of French in New Brunswick according to four linguistic characteristics: knowledge of French, language spoken most often at home, first official language spoken and mother tongue. It also confirms that immigration in New Brunswick does not support equally the vitality of both official languages.
“After reading this analysis, my conclusion is clear: we cannot take for granted the vitality of the French language in New Brunswick,” the Commissioner stated. “To ensure the future of the language, we must work together on all of the factors that affect its vitality.”
Michel Carrier finds it regrettable that the provincial government still does not have a long-term strategy for Francophone immigration nor clear guidelines to ensure that the linguistic balance is maintained in New Brunswick. “Two years ago, I made two recommendations in that regard. The government informed me that it was going to act; however, I still have not seen any document, which is disappointing.”
Language of Work in the Civil Service
The annual report indicates that 88% of the words translated by the New Brunswick Translation Bureau are from English to French. “This percentage seems to indicate that civil servants write very little in French,” explained the Commissioner. “It is quite easy to imagine the consequences of such a practice for the vitality of French within the civil service.”
Michel Carrier recommended that the right of civil servants to work in the official language of their choice be included in the Official Languages Act. However the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act did not retain this recommendation. “In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, New Brunswick commits to protecting and promoting our two official languages,” he stated. “How then can we not include a measure designed to ensure an equal use of English and French within the government in the Official Languages Act?”
New Brunswick Translation Bureau: the Commissioner is concerned
Among the topics dealt with in the 2012-2013 annual report, the results of the study on the New Brunswick Translation Bureau should be highlighted. The Commissioner indicated that he was concerned about certain changes imposed on the organization. “To a large extent, the Translation Bureau makes it possible for the provincial government to comply with its constitutional obligations," he explained, “therefore sufficient resources are required to allow it to do its work. The study we conducted exposed some worrisome facts: reduction of the Bureau’s basic budget, elimination of translation allocations to departments, and reduction of revenues linked to a significant decrease in the number of words translated. This situation worries me, and that is why I am asking the Premier to ensure that the Translation Bureau has the necessary resources to fulfill its role effectively.”
In 2012-2013, the Commissioner’s office handled 149 complaints, most having to do with the lack of French-language services.
New promotional tool for bilingualism and duality
With respect to promotional activities, Mr. Carrier announced that the Office’s website now offers a series of video vignettes on official bilingualism, linguistic duality and language vitality. “I wish to thank the New Brunswickers who agreed to share their thoughts on these subjects. I believe that these vignettes will contribute significantly to a better understanding of what makes our province unique.”
End of Commissioner Carrier’s term of office
Michel Carrier is leaving his duties as Commissioner with a sense of accomplishment. “During my two mandates, I have applied myself to convincing the government that it needed an action plan to implement the Act. This plan has been adopted and I have high hopes that it will lead to substantial progress.
The Commissioner considers the review of the Official Languages Act to be an ideal opportunity to continue this progress towards linguistic equality. "We have dedicated ourselves to a noble societal undertaking, which becomes especially meaningful insofar as we continue to make a concerted effort to build on it. The review of the Act is an opportunity that should be seized in that regard. To move forward, we must aim higher and go further,” he concluded.
The 2012-2013 annual report is available online.
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