Fredericton, January 31, 2006 – The Commissioner of Official Languages, Michel Carrier, has submitted his annual report for 2004-2005 to the Legislative Assembly, in accordance with the province’s Official Languages Act (OLA).
While recognizing that, in adopting the OLA, New Brunswick has made a giant step forward in terms of confirming and clarifying linguistic rights, the Commissioner suggests that government must also have a clear strategy with regard to all its services and programs in order for provincial institutions to meet their obligations under the Act.
To this end, the Commissioner devotes a significant portion of his annual report to the need for government to engage in comprehensive planning in the area of official languages. He stresses the need to adopt a master plan containing a series of administrative measures for the delivery of government programs in accordance with the OLA.
“New Brunswick has a solid legal foundation to ensure the respect of the rights and obligations found in the Charter in the area of Official Languages,” he said. “Through the OLA, the Province reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that government communications, services and programs are offered in both official languages. It must now create concrete and practical measures so that we may achieve true equality in the delivery of those services as soon as possible.”
The Commissioner’s report also contains ten recommendations dealing with such issues as language training and language of work for civil servants, assistance for municipalities subject to the OLA, and the establishment of a language management board that would advise government with regard to toponymy, for example.
The report also outlines a number of complaints handled by the Office of the Commissioner during the period in question.
The Office of the Commissioner handled 150 complaints and 26 requests for information during the 2004-2005 reporting period. Some 81 complaints were admissible, 72 of which (88.9%) reported a lack of services in French and 9 (11.1%), a lack of services in English. Fifty-two complaints (29.5%) were deemed inadmissible because they did not come under the Commissioner’s authority or did not concern an institution within the meaning of the Act. Seventeen (9.7%) complaints were referred to other institutions for consideration.
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