"Where numbers warrant" will be met by boosting the numbers artificially. You'll note that the English-speakers in Quebec will still have to live under the French-language zealots who want the French language dominant in Quebec.
Folks, Bill S-205 died on order table when Harper govt fell. It was tabled again as Bill S-209 in December 2015 when Trudeau came to power. It aims to amend Part IV (Service to the Public) of the OLA, changing the definition of "francophone" a la Ontario FLSA.
Issues related to implementing the Official Languages Act
Commissioner lends his support to Bill S-205
In April 2015, the Commissioner of Official Languages presented his position in support of Bill S-205, which aimed to update Part IV of the Official Languages Act. In his briefFootnote 11 to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, the Commissioner gave three reasons why Part IV needs to be updated.
First, he noted that the criteria set out in section 32(2) of the Act to assess potential demand for services in the minority language are not inclusive, because they do not take into account all of the people who use the minority language in the public or private sphere. For example, the current criteria as they are applied exclude people whose first official language spoken is not the language of the minority but who:
speak the minority language at home (as can be the case for francophiles, anglophiles and newcomers);
speak the minority language in the workplace; or
receive their education in the minority language.
Second, he pointed out that significant demand is defined in relation to the proportion of the minority population (i.e., the 5% rule). However, the chief factor to be considered in determining significant demand in a region served by federal offices should be the presence of an official language community that shows signs of vitality. (It means presence of even one French school, according to their previous discussions - E.B.).
Third, he stressed that Bill S-205 is important because it codifies the principle of substantive equality by explicitly imposing on federal institutions the duty to provide service of equal quality in both official languages and to consult with the English and French linguistic minority population concerning the quality of those communications and services.
The Bill died on the order table after the federal election was called in August 2015 and was tabled again in December 2015 as Bill S-209. The Commissioner reiterated that this bill makes an undoubtedly significant contribution to fulfilling the purpose of Part IV of the Act and helps official language communities to strengthen their identity, to develop and to thrive.
Analysis needed of the impact of the Official Languages Regulations on the vitality of official language communities
In 2013, the Société franco-manitobaine made public a complaint that had been filed with the Office of the Commissioner concerning the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.Footnote 12 The complaint alleged that the method used to determine the first official language spoken in order to establish what constitutes significant demand does not take into account large segments of the population that speak the minority language and would want or be likely to use it in federal offices.
The objective of the investigation was to determine the nature of the obligations incumbent upon the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat under Part VII of the Act in the context of the Official Languages Regulations Re-Application Exercise. The exercise seeks to review and update federal institutions’ language obligations every 10 years using census data: in this case, data from the 2011 Census.
In the spring of 2015, the Commissioner released his final investigation report to the parties involved. The Commissioner concluded that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat had to identify the impact of the results of the re-application exercise on the vitality of official language communities that would no longer be receiving bilingual services because of changes in the linguistic designation of some federal offices. The Commissioner also concluded that the institution should present options to the President of the Treasury Board to mitigate the negative impact of these results.
Because the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat had stated that it did not intend to conduct an analysis on the impact of the results, the Commissioner concluded that it had not met its obligations under Part VII of the Act and that the complaint was founded.
The Commissioner therefore recommended that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat undertake a thorough review of the impact of the Official Languages Regulations on the development and vitality of the official language communities affected by the results of the re-application exercise. He also recommended that the findings of the analysis be shared with the President of the Treasury Board, along with opinions and advice on solutions to be considered in order to mitigate any potential negative impact of the Regulations.
A follow-up is under way to determine whether the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will be taking the appropriate steps to implement the Commissioner’s recommendations.
Société franco-manitobaine takes case to court
In February 2015, the Société franco-manitobaine applied for a court remedy in Federal Court under Part X of the Act. The Société petitioned the Federal Court to find that parts of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations are inconsistent with section 20 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and with several provisions of the Act) and to order the government to amend the Regulations. The Société maintained that:
the Regulations contain an unduly restrictive definition of the word “Francophone,” i.e., they do not make allowances for the recent expansion of the Francophone space to include mixed families, newcomers, people who are bilingual and people who are able to converse in French;
the use of formal numerical thresholds is inconsistent with the objectives of the Act; and
the Regulations were adopted without consulting the French-speaking minority, and they have not undergone any significant review or consultation since they came into force in 1992.
The objective of Senator Maria Chaput’s Bill S-209 was to correct the very shortcomings cited by the Société franco-manitobaine in its court remedy. The Commissioner strongly urges the government to update Part IV of the Act and to review the criteria for defining significant demand.
The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends:
that Parliament make Bill S-209 a priority so that the parliamentary committees examining it are able to conduct a diligent review; and
that, by March 31, 2017, the Treasury Board undertake an evaluation, in consultation with official language communities, of the effectiveness and efficiency of its policies and directives for implementing Part IV of the Official Languages Act.
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