Profile of the Legal and Administrative Framework for the Delivery of French-Language Services within each of the Provincial and Territorial Governments
The French Policy was announced in June 2017. The government is committed to providing more services in a progressive and targeted manner to the community.
The Languages Act of 1988 reaffirms the unilingual English status of the province, while recognizing the right to use French in the Legislative Assembly and before certain courts.
The Alberta Francophone Secretariat was established in February 1999 and reports to the Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women. In addition to the Minister, the Secretariat has an executive director (who reports directly to the deputy minister), administrative support, and a multidisciplinary team responsible for coordinating services, analysing public policy, translation, active offer, internet content, and community liaison.
Only the Canada-Alberta Agreement on French-Language Services and the Canada‑Alberta Agreement on Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction focus specifically on the delivery of services in French. Other agreements between Canada and Alberta contain clauses that take into account the needs of the province’s Francophone communities.
As of 2019, there is no provincial legislation or policy on the delivery of French-language services. The Francophone Affairs Program (FAP) was established in 2001. It has one full-time employee and two part-time employees. It falls under the Associate Deputy Minister of the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat, in the Office of the Premier. The Secretariat also provides administrative support for the FAP.
British Columbia’s Minister of Health and Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs oversees Francophone affairs and serves as a liaison between the province’s Francophone community and the government.
In 2000, Prince Edward Island passed its first French Language Services Act, although it was only partially enacted. In 2013, a new French Language Services Act was fully enacted, along with its General Regulations. It sets out clear obligations regarding the provision of French-language services for government institutions subject to the Act and is based on the principle of harmonizing the priorities of the Acadian and Francophone community with the government’s ability to deliver these services.
The French Language Services Act outlines the obligations of government institutions with respect to public consultations and correspondence in French. It also outlines obligations regarding the delivery of services designated under the Act, namely, that institutions offer services of comparable quality in English and in French, and that they make it known to the public that these services are offered in both official languages. The designation of a service is done through the Act’s General Regulations.
Prince Edward Island
The French Language Services Act also sets out initiatives to ensure its implementation. It provides for the establishment of the Acadian and Francophone Community Advisory Committee (AFCAC), whose role is to provide the Minister responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs with advice on all matters relating to that community in the province, including its priorities with respect to French-language services. The Act also stipulates that each government institution must appoint a French Language Services Coordinator. The role of these coordinators includes advising their institution on the implementation of the Act. The Act also introduces two accountability mechanisms: annual plans and reports and a complaints process.
The Acadian and Francophone Affairs Secretariat (1989) advises the provincial government on the planning and implementation of various measures with a view to increasing its capacity to provide services in French. It is also responsible for coordinating the implementation of the French Language Services Act, by chairing the French Language Services Coordinators’ Committee and providing the AFCAC with operational and administrative support. For its part, the Public Service Commission coordinates the planning of bilingual staffing and the development of policies on human resources matters for French-language services in connection with the implementation of the Act.
prince Edward Island
The Manitoba Act, 1870 recognizes the official status of French in both the Legislative Assembly and before the courts. The French‑Language Services Policy, adopted in 1989 and revised in 1999 and 2017, governs the delivery of government and parapublic services in French in the province, notably in designated areas where the French-speaking population is concentrated. The Bilingual Service Centres Act, enacted in June 2012, is designed to guarantee a permanent role for bilingual services centres and establish a legislative framework consolidating the existing principles and practices for their operation. On June 30, 2016, the Government of Manitoba adopted The Francophone Community Enhancement and Support Act, which outlines the administrative structures and tools that exist to support the Francophone community. It is designed to establish the necessary framework to foster and support the development of Manitoba’s Francophone community.
The French Language Services Regulation (46/98) under the Regional Health Authorities Act prescribes the provision of services in French by four designated regional health authorities (RHAs). The Bilingual and Francophone Facilities and Programs Designation Regulation (131/2013) under the Regional Health Authorities Act outlines the designation of programs and facilities that offer services in French only or in both English and French. The French Language Services Regulation (199/2005) under The Child and Family Services Authorities Act requires that the four RHAs develop and obtain approval for an annual French language services plan. Section 147.1 of the Municipal Act came into effect in November 2015 and is intended to ensure the continuity of French-language services in bilingual municipalities. Part 9 of the City of Winnipeg Charter Act (1971 – amended in 1992) governs the delivery of French-language services in the City of Winnipeg and particularly in Saint-Boniface, Saint-Vital, and Saint-Norbert (Riel District). The Manitoba Public Schools Act (1979 – amended in 1993) confirms that Francophones are entitled to French-language education and school governance. The Centre culturel franco-manitobain Act establishes the mandate to present, promote, and sponsor French-language cultural and artistic activities for all Manitobans. The Université de Saint-Boniface Act recognizes the vital role that the province’s only French-language post-secondary institution plays in the linguistic, cultural, social, and economic development and growth of Manitoba’s Francophone community.
Officially, there has been a minister responsible for the Government of Manitoba’s French Language Services Policy since 1989. The Francophone Affairs Secretariat (formerly the French Language Services Secretariat, established in 1981) reports to the Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs. The Secretariat, whose mandate extends to all administrative bodies covered by the French Language Services Policy, is responsible for guiding and monitoring the implementation of this policy. In exercising its mandate, it oversees and facilitates implementation of the policy such that the concept of active offer of service is respected, and it makes recommendations in this regard.
The Secretariat has the following staff: an executive director, an assistant director, a bilingual service centre coordinator, three policy analysts, and one administrative services manager. The Secretariat is also responsible for the Translation Services Branch (four interpreters, two terminologists, one senior reviser, and four administrative positions) and the staffs of the bilingual service centres (five information officers and five administrative positions).
New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada.
The Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick, or Bill 88, adopted by the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick in 1981, recognizes the equality of the Anglophone and Francophone linguistic communities in that province. In 1993, the foundations of Bill 88 were entrenched in article 16.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The first Official Languages Act was passed in 1969. In 2002, a major review of the Act took place, to take into account all of New Brunswick’s constitutional obligations with respect to official languages under the Charter. The Act established the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, whose mandate is to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act by government institutions and to promote bilingualism in New Brunswick. A second review of the Act was done in 2012-2013, and the next one must be completed by December 31, 2021. The right to use both official languages before all courts in New Brunswick is entrenched in the Constitution.
Since the New Brunswick Community Colleges Act was adopted in 2010, community colleges in New Brunswick have been organized autonomously under two separate Crown corporations, one Anglophone and the other Francophone.
There has been a Linguistic and Cultural Development Policy (LCDP) in education since 2014. This strategy was developed by the Francophone community in collaboration with the provincial government.
After the review of the Act in 2012-2013, a number of provisions were amended or added, including additional responsibilities for the Office of the Commissioner for Official Languages, adoption of a comprehensive plan for implementing linguistic obligations, clarification of official language obligations when the government uses subcontractors to provide services, and co-drafting of provincial acts and regulations in English and French. Professional associations have been subject to the Act since 2016.
The Office of the Premier is responsible for the administration of the Official Languages Act and the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick. The Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat of the Executive Council Office coordinates the implementation of the Canada-New Brunswick Agreement on the Provision of French-Language Services and the Canada-New Brunswick Agreement on French First-Language Education and French Second-Language Instruction. The policy on official languages (Language of Work and Language of Service) is implemented by all government organizations, under the direction of the Treasury Board. Under this policy, each department or entity designates an official languages coordinator who is responsible for working with the Treasury Board on these matters.
The Official Languages Coordination Unit of the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat coordinates the implementation of the Government Plan on Official Languages. The Plan on Official Languages — Official Bilingualism: A Fundamental Value was launched in July 2015. Each government department or agency of the public service has assigned a work team responsible for developing a departmental action plan. The Coordination Unit is also responsible for coordinating the government’s overall action plan on official languages. Among other things, it provides support for the work teams responsible for departmental action plans.
The French-language Services Act was passed in 2004 and amended in 2011. The French-language Services Regulations were adopted in 2006.
The French-language Services Regulations provide a list of the departments, offices, and agencies — collectively called designated public institutions — to which the French-language Services Act and its regulations, apply. Each designated public institution must develop and publish an annual French-language services plan for the coming year and report on progress made the previous year.
The development and delivery of services in French are the responsibility of the designated public institutions.
The French-language Services Act officially establishes the French-language Services Coordinating Committee, consisting of the French-language services coordinators of the designated departments and offices. The Executive Director of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie chairs the French-language Services Coordinating Committee.
The Nova Scotia Libraries Act includes a regulation on funding that provides for an annual payment of a provincial grant for the delivery of services in French to regional library boards where the French-speaking population exceeds 10% of the total population of the area served by the board. Two boards are eligible for this grant: the Eastern Counties Regional Library Board and the Western Counties Regional Library Board.
The Office of Acadian Affairs was established and its mission defined under the French-language Services Act (2004). In 2011, the Office became a division of the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, now the department responsible for the Act. In 2016, an order in council assigned general administration and management of the French-language Services Act to the Minister of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie and gave the division the name Office of Acadian Affairs and Francophonie.
Section 38 of the Nunavut Act stipulates that the Northwest Territories Official Languages Act (which Nunavut inherited in 1999) “ …may not be repealed, amended or otherwise rendered inoperable (…) without the concurrence of Parliament (…) if the repeal, amendment or measure (…) would have the effect of diminishing the rights and services …,” thus confirming the status of French as an official language.
In 2008, Nunavut passed its own Official Languages Act (OLA), which came into effect on April 1, 2013. Section 3 of the OLA recognizes three official languages in Nunavut: the Inuit Language, English, and French, each having “equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in territorial institutions.” Sections 11 and 12 govern communication with and services to the public. These sections recognize the obligation of territorial institutions to actively offer their services and to communicate with members of the public in the official language of their choice. In short, the OLA seeks to implement institutional trilingualism in Nunavut.
To coordinate implementation of the OLA, the Minister of Languages tabled a new plan, Uqausivut 2.0 (“our language”), in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut in June 2018. This comprehensive plan outlines the approach to be taken by territorial institutions with respect to implementing obligations, policies, programs, and services.
The Department of Culture and Heritage (DCH) is responsible for the central coordination of implementing the plan. The DCH also manages the Canada-Nunavut General Agreement on the Promotion of French and Inuit Languages 2016-2020. It offers an advisory service for territorial institutions for the design, development, and provision of French-language services. The DCH chairs the Intergovernmental Working Group on French Services, which assesses the existing administrative structure for the delivery of French-language services by the Government of Nunavut. The DCH supports the development of plans, policies, and training, and the delivery of French-language services in the departments of the Government of Nunavut through communication and language services.
The Official Languages Division plays a central role in promoting and coordinating the implementation, management, follow-up, and evaluation of government linguistic obligations and policies. The Francophone Affairs section of the Division is responsible for the administration of funding under the Canada-Nunavut agreement that is allocated to departments and public agencies for their French-language programs and services. The Division offers and coordinates a translation service for departments and public agencies.
The French Language Services Act (1986) (FLSA) guarantees all individuals the right to receive services in French from the provincial government in 26 designated areas and from central offices. About 81% of Franco-Ontarians live in a designated area. However, Francophones who live outside a designated area can obtain French-language services by contacting the central office of a ministry or a branch located in a designated area or by using the online services of Service Ontario.
The preamble of the FLSA states that French is recognized as an official language under the Constitution, and that the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French-speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations. The French presence in Ontario dates back 400 years.
The FLSA is part of a series of legal provisions designed to guarantee the language rights of Francophones. Other provincial acts guarantee Francophone rights, including the Education Act, the Courts of Justice Act and the Child and Family Services Act. In April 2019, Ontario adopted Bill 74, the People’s Health Care Act, 2019. This Act is the basis for the restructuring of health care services in Ontario, which will be implemented over several years. The Act refers directly to the obligations under the French Language Services Act.
In June 2009, the Government of Ontario adopted a new, broader definition of the Francophone population to better reflect the Francophone population of Ontario. Previously, Francophones had been defined on the basis of mother tongue. The “mother tongue” category defined Francophones as only those who had learned French at home at a young age and who still understood French at the time of the census. The new inclusive definition of Francophone is based on three census questions concerning mother tongue, language spoken at home, and knowledge of official languages. This meant that, in 2018, an additional 54,000 Francophones were added to the 568,340 identified on the basis of mother tongue, for a total Francophone population of over 622,000 in Ontario. This is an increase of almost 10%.
A policy adopted in 2010 governs the Ontario government’s French-language communications. The ministries and classified organizations are required to take into consideration the specific needs of Ontario’s Francophonie when developing and implementing communication strategies.
Also in 2010, the province adopted the Franco-Ontarian Day Act, which recognizes September 25 each year as the day reserved to celebrate their language and heritage.
On June 24, 2011, Ontario adopted Regulation 284/11, which requires agencies that provide services on behalf of the Government of Ontario to comply with the FLSA.
In 2011, a new policy on designated bilingual positions within the provincial public service came into effect. For the first time, formal expectations concerning the management of designated bilingual positions formed an integral part of the policy on human resources of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Ontario also has a French Language Services Commissioner within the Office of the Ombudsman. He or she is responsible for conducting investigations pursuant to the French Language Services Act, either in response to complaints or on his or her own initiative, for preparing reports on investigations, and for monitoring the progress made by government agencies in the delivery of French-language services in Ontario.
The Ministry of Francophone Affairs oversees the implementation of the French Language Services Act. It provides information about the Francophone population of Ontario and participates in the development of government-wide policies that implement the FLSA. The ministries, supported by their coordinators and heads of French services, ensure the development and delivery of services to the population.
French has been the only official language of Québec since 1974.
The Charter of the French Language, adopted in 1977, is the foundation of Québec’s language policy. It covers all aspects for making French the language of Government and the Law, as well as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce, and business. The preamble to the Charter refers to pursuing this objective in a spirit of fairness and open-mindedness, in respect for the institutions of the English-speaking community of Québec. Also, it recognizes the right of Aboriginal and Inuit persons to preserve and develop their native language and culture.
The Charter of the French Language has approximately a dozen regulations. A government policy oversees the use and the quality of the French language in the public administration (government departments and agencies). This policy requires that the departments and agencies it covers adopt a language policy that promotes French monolingualism in their activities, while being aligned with their mission and individual characteristics.
Also, there are other government policies and legislative or regulatory provisions in sectors where language is a strategic dimension (education, culture, immigration, information technology, etc.). These are also aimed at ensuring the sustainability and influence of the French language in Québec.
All these elements make up Québec’s language policy.
The Language Act of 1988 provides for the adoption of any new act in English only or in both English and French. When an act is passed in both English and French, the two versions have equal authority. Also, the Language Act recognizes the right to use French in the Legislative Assembly and before the courts of Saskatchewan. Fifty-four acts have been adopted in English and French, along with 40 related regulations. Generally, the statutes to be adopted in English and French are determined in consultation with the Fransaskois community. Most bilingual acts concern the administration of justice, family law, and education.
In 2003, the government of Saskatchewan adopted the French-language Services Policy. This policy has three service goals: communication with citizens, service development and delivery, and consultation. The Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs offers advice to the government on the implementation of its French-language Services Policy.
The Francophone Affairs Branch (FAB) serves as a liaison between the provincial government and the Fransaskois community. The FAB also supports implementation of the French-language Services Policy by offering translation services to the provincial ministries and agencies, and advising them on French-language services.
The Provincial Secretary is responsible for Francophone affairs and is the government liaison with the Fransaskois community.
The Office of French Services (OFS), Service NL, acts as the key point of contact in the provincial government regarding French language services and Francophone affairs. It collaborates with departments to increase their capacity to offer services to the public in French and to promote dialogue and partnerships with Francophone and Acadian communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The French Language Services Policy was adopted in 2015 by the Treasury Board. The objective of the policy is to ensure a more consistent and coordinated approach to service delivery in French throughout the provincial government. It is administered by the OFS.
The OFS also supports the minister responsible for Francophone Affairs.
The Schools Act, 1997 provides for the establishment of a provincial Francophone school board in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
newfoundland and Labrador
The Official Languages Act of the Northwest Territories (1984) gives French and English equal status. Amendments passed in 1990 give official language status to nine Aboriginal languages. The Act requires that government services be available in French at its central offices and at regional or community offices where there is a significant demand or given the nature of the service. All acts and regulations are published in both French and English and have equal status before the courts. The Act provides for the appointment of a Languages Commissioner. The Legislative Assembly must review the provisions and administration of the Act every five years. The Government Institution Regulations designate the government bodies subject to the Official Languages Act. The Regulations also define what constitutes a significant demand for services in French or English at a territorial institution office and determines the circumstances whereby the nature of an office justifies that communications and services be made available in French or English.
The Official Languages Policy was approved by the Executive Council in August 1997. A Strategic Plan on French Language Communications and Services was approved by the Executive Council in 2018. The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) Standards for French Communications and Services were approved in 2013. The Strategic Plan and the Standards were established to direct departments, boards, and agencies in the development and delivery of French services.
The Minister responsible for the Official Languages Act is responsible for coordinating GNWT policies and programs relating to official languages. The Official Languages Policy makes each minister responsible for the delivery of services and programs in the official languages within the departments or agencies that report to him/her. The Francophone Affairs Secretariat coordinates and oversees the implementation of the Strategic Plan on French Language Communications and Services. Each GNWT department has a French-language services coordinator responsible for coordinating the delivery of communications and services in French.
The Languages Act of 1988 recognizes the right to use French and English in the Legislative Assembly and before the courts. It provides for the publication of acts and regulations in both official languages and gives the public the right to communicate with and receive services in French from any head or central office of the government of Yukon. The same right applies to other government offices where demand is significant or owing to the nature of the office. The French Language Policy supports the implementation of the Languages Act.
The deputy ministers and Crown corporation chairs are responsible for the implementation of French-language services. They ensure the development and implementation of departmental action plans for the delivery of French-language services in accordance with the Languages Act and the French Language Policy of the government of Yukon.
The government of Yukon established the French Language Services Office in 1989. This structure became the French Language Services Directorate (FLSD) in 2006 and a stand-alone department in 2013. Its budget is debated separately in the Legislative Assembly, and it has an official deputy minister. The FLSD supports the departments in the delivery of French-language services, consults with the Yukon Francophone community, and negotiates funding agreements with the federal government.
The Advisory Committee on French Language Services was established in 1989. Currently chaired by the Deputy Minister responsible for the FLSD, this committee consists of four deputy ministers, two representatives of the Association franco‑yukonnaise, one representative of the Francophone community, one representative of the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon, and one representative of the Yukon Employees’ Union.