November 17, 2016
The Government of Canada is undertaking a review of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations. The Regulations implement some key provisions of Part IV of the Official Languages Act regarding communications with and services to the public.
The Regulations specify, for example, the circumstances under which the “nature” or mandate of an office of a federal institution justifies providing bilingual services. They also establish the criteria that determine whether or not there is significant demand for services in both official languages using the most recent decennial census data.
Objectives of the review
The regulatory review is a part of the commitment to ensure that all federal services are delivered in full compliance with the Official Languages Act. The review will mainly seek to:
- develop an improved approach to the current calculation method that will better reflect the needs and interests of small, thriving minority language communities, reflect current demographics and respond to changing demographics in the future;
- explore opportunities presented by new technologies to improve service delivery in both official languages; and
- improve bilingual services in the area of transportation.
The review process will begin this fall. The following timeline and three-step process is planned for the review of the Regulations:
- Fall 2016 – Winter 2017: Announcement and launch of the review; Discussions with stakeholders and policy development process
- Fall 2018: Parliamentary process and public consultations
- Spring 2019: Adoption of new Regulations
Maintaining bilingual services during the regulatory review
Bilingual services will be maintained during the regulatory review through an amendment to the Directive on the Implementation of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.
The directive requires that the language obligations of offices subject to the significant demand rules of the Regulations be reviewed following the most recent decennial census. The exercise based on the 2011 Census is still underway.
The directive will be amended to enable approximately 250 offices that are still involved in this exercise to continue to provide bilingual services to the public. This responds to stakeholder concerns about a reduction in the number of bilingual offices pending the review of the Regulations.
The Treasury Board Secretariat will work with Canadian Heritage in the consultation process.