Official Languages Commissioner for New Brunswick releases his 2010-2011 Annual Report
Fredericton, October 20, 2011 – The Commissioner of Official Languages, Michel A. Carrier, today released his eighth annual report, entitled Move Forward or Lose Ground.
“Progress with respect to official languages is fragile, because there is always the general trend of the predominance of English, both here and elsewhere in the world,” said the Commissioner. “To ensure the future of French in New Brunswick, it is essential that we continue to move forward on a number of fronts.”
In his report, Carrier recommends full application of the principle of linguistic duality to private day care centres. In terms of immigration, he asks the government to adopt an official policy and clear guidelines to ensure that its actions in that regard promote the two linguistic communities equally. In addition, the Commissioner makes some 12 suggestions for improving the Official Languages Act (OLA), the revision of which must be initiated no later than December 2012.
In 2010-2011, the Office of the Commissioner received 200 complaints, most having to do with the lack of French-language services. The Commissioner also provides a summary of his report on Casino New Brunswick. According to Carrier, the wording of the Official Languages Act does not make it possible to conclude that Casino New Brunswick is subject to the Act. However, he points out that the provincial government had the power and the duty to require the casino operator to provide all services in both official languages. The Commissioner also recommends changes to the OLA to ensure better protection for the language rights of New Brunswickers in the case of public-private partnerships, the granting of monopolies, and the privatization of public services.
“The vitality of languages hinges on a number of interrelated factors,” Carrier said. “The various issues looked at in this annual report provide a good illustration of how government action can affect that vitality."
Carrier is pleased about the implementation of a provincial action plan on official languages, an initiative launched by the previous administration and revived by the Alward government. "I have been recommending such a measure for many years and I am pleased to see it becoming a reality,” Carrier said.
The last chapter of the annual report contains a reproduction of the insert Living Together with Two Languages, which was distributed in the province’s daily newspapers and some of its weeklies in March 2011. “One of my responsibilities as Commissioner is to promote the advancement of our two official languages," Carrier said. “To do that, it is important to clearly explain what official bilingualism and linguistic duality are and to dispel the myths surrounding those two concepts.”
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