Posted on 31 May 2012
OTTAWA, May 31, 2012 – On May 30, 2012, Manitoba Senator Maria Chaput presented the highlights of Bill S-211, which would modernize Part IV of the Official Languages Act – communications with and services to the public.
Part IV of the Act addresses with the federal government’s obligation to provide services to official language minority communities where there is a “significant demand”. Bill S-211 would modify the way this demand is calculated by taking into account the institutional vitality of the community, and considering the number of people who can communicate in the language of the English or French minority population served, rather than the number of people for whom the language is their first official language spoken.
“These changes are needed because the current calculation is based mainly on the relative size of the Anglophone or Francophone population. This places an unfair burden on these communities,” said Senator Chaput. “The current system does not address any of the major factors that have reshaped official language communities over the past 30 years, such as exogamy, urbanization, immigration and the vitality of the communities.”
Bill S-211 would require federal institutions to take every reasonable measure to provide communications and services to the public that are of equal quality in both official languages, and to notify the public before eliminating or reducing services provided in the language of a region’s Anglophone or Francophone minority population.
Bill S-211 would guarantee people access to services in the official language of their choice in major transportation centres. “The bill is not breaking new ground here,” explained Senator Chaput. “It is simply reinforcing a positive trend taking place in Canada. Few centres will be affected.”
Lastly, Bill S-211 would also require a review of the regulations enacted under Part IV of the Act every 10 years. “This 10-year review would ensure that future generations will not find themselves in a similar situation, dealing with out-of-date regulations that don’t reflect major demographic, social and legal changes.”
Senator Chaput emphasized the importance of this bill for official language minority communities, and called on senators of every political stripe to send Bill S-211 to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages for in-depth consideration.
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To arrange an interview with Senator Chaput, please contact:
Suzanne Belliveau at 613-943-2435 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org