The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages
Youth help modernize the Official Languages Act
February 16, 2018
Winnipeg – Senators enlisted young Canadians to help them determine what aspects of the Official Languages Act needs to change to keep it relevant in the 21st century.
In a report released Friday, members of the Senate Committee on Official Languages praised Canadian youth for their commitment and passion for French and English. Young people between the ages of 14 and 24 were eager to share their aspirations to live a rich, bilingual life. Bilingualism, they said, was a source of great pride.
Nevertheless, the Official Languages Act is silent when it comes to young people. Part VII of the Act — which addresses the advancement of English and French, and the enhancement of official language minority communities — contains no specific provisions with regard to Canadian youth. They want the federal government to consult them when measures are being considered that could affect them.
Young people want the bar to be raised for Canada’s linguistic duality. They envision a country where living in English or in French is the norm — and they believe the federal government has a key leadership role to play in achieving this vision. The committee agrees and looks forward to advocating on their behalf as senators’ study of the Official Languages Act continues.
This report is the first of six that the committee will produce during its study. Senators intend to consult with a total of five segments of the population before releasing a final report with specific recommendations for the federal government in 2019, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Act.
- Before producing its final report, the committee will consult young people, official language minority communities, stakeholders who have witnessed the evolution of the Official Languages Act, the justice sector and federal institutions.
- The last major reform of the Act took place in 1988.
- Senators used Facebook Live to broadcast a roundtable discussion with young people from the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française last September.
“We were impressed by the energy of our young witnesses and their genuine desire to create a more vibrant country where the ability to draw on the richness of French and English culture is a fait accompli. We are indebted to them for their time and ideas and we will vigorously represent their views in Parliament.”
- Senator René Cormier, Chair of the committee.
“It is our privilege, as parliamentarians and members of this committee, to be able to spend time with young people and learn from their experiences. Young Canadians are enthusiastic, intelligent and wise. We look forward to helping them in every way we can, just as they have helped us in the creation of this report.”
- Senator Rose-May Poirier, Deputy Chair of the committee.
- Read the report, Modernizing the Official Languages Act: The Views of Young Canadians.
- Watch a recording of the live-streamed roundtable discussion with members of the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française.
- Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #OLLO.
- Sign up for the Senate’s eNewsletter.
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