This year, 2016, marks the 30th anniversary of the French Language Services Act. Such an anniversary is cause for celebration, of course, but it is also a particularly opportune time to take a moment to reflect on the words chosen in 1986 and consider whether the Act should be updated. This year, the Commissioner is devoting his annual report to the pursuit of one key objective: present an extensive blueprint for a comprehensive revision of the Act.
In this context, the Commissioner is reviewing and analyzing certain parts and sections of the Act to demonstrate that they are out of date and in serious need of an overhaul. In particular, there is a need to redefine the concepts of services and communications as they are used in the Act. In an era when technology and social media are routinely incorporated into government activities, a more modern definition is a pressing necessity. The same applies to the definition of government agency.
This report also demonstrates the importance, in any revision of the Act, of eliminating the ambiguities in the wording of a number of clauses dealing with the roles and responsibilities of key players in implementing and enforcing the Act. In particular, the Commissioner proposes adjustments in the roles of the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, the Office of Francophone Affairs, the French-language services coordinators and a new advisory council on Francophone affairs, as well as in his own role.
Since a revision of the Act is necessary, the Commissioner is taking advantage of the opportunity to recommend the addition of critical provisions relating to French-language services. Those provisions deal with such matters as the purpose of the Act, active offer, the translation of regulations, the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF), consultations with the Francophone community, and regulatory colleges.
In this report, the Commissioner makes three recommendations to initiate the process of revising the Act no later than the fall of 2016, which will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the French Language Services Act.