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Canada — 2010-2011 Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages

November 14, 2011 Comments off

2010-2011 Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages (PDF)
Source: Office of the Commissioner of Languages
From speech (Graham Fraser – Commissioner of Official Languages):

Language issues can still be emotional and often divisive. We saw this with the Federal Court decision in Thibodeau v. Air Canada. There was also the outcry in the media following our call for tenders to make observations to evaluate the bilingualism situation in the capital.

I think this is a good thing. It is normal for linguistic duality to be at the heart of our social debates. It lets us define ourselves as a society and better serve the Canadian population. It is always useful to set the record straight on the application of the Official Languages Act.

With this new session of Parliament, one concern is front and centre in the public service: the strategic and operational review, also known as the Deficit Reduction Action Plan. Departments are being asked to find ways to reduce their expenditures by 5 or 10%, and some departments are making significant cuts outside of the strategic review.

The government’s financial restructuring could have repercussions on the ability of institutions to fulfill their official languages obligations. Organizations and volunteers whose work is to promote linguistic duality throughout Canada are also worried about possible repercussions. I share their concerns. I am not claiming that official languages are being targeted specifically—or that they should be exempted—but there is a risk that they will be unduly affected. The government must ensure the decisions that are made during each department’s budget review take into account potential consequences for official language communities. It must also limit the negative repercussions because, if each institution independently makes cuts to official languages programs, the cumulative effect will be much greater than 5 or 10%.

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