Moving towards the modernization of the Official Languages Act
On Friday, February 19, 2021, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, introduced “English and French: Towards a substantive equality of official languages in Canada,” a document containing the Government of Canada’s intentions for a reform of the Official Languages Act.
In this white paper, the federal government proposes measures to protect and promote French across Canada. Ontario’s French-language public school boards would benefit from some of the government’s commitments, such as the enumeration of rights holders, the educational continuum from early childhood to post-secondary levels and the recruitment of Francophone teachers.
ACÉPO congratulates the government on these new measures as the stated intentions are a step in the right direction. It was pleased to read that “[t]he Government of Canada recognizes that the need to ensure the security and vitality of the French language requires a particular approach. It therefore intends to take measures to promote the substantive equality of both official languages, and to continue to protect the rights of linguistic minorities.”
In fact, ACÉPO considers it important to apply the notion of equity in measures taken in the area of French first-language education in minority settings so that it is possible to offer educational services equivalent to those offered in English-language education. The clear and effective reporting of federal grants paid to the provincial governments would be a very helpful tool for enhancing fairness between the education systems.
ACÉPO is encouraged by this announcement and looks forward to the 2021 introduction of the bill on the modernization of the Official Languages Act.