POLITICS

Commissioner says more work to achieve language equality in New Brunswick

06/10/2013 01:48 EDT | Updated 08/10/2013 05:12 EDT
FREDERICTON - As New Brunswick's first commissioner of official languages wraps up a decade on the job, he says there is much work left to do to achieve linguistic equality in the province.

Michel Carrier says the provincial government must stick to a plan to ensure the Official Languages Act is applied through programs and services.

"The plan is well written, it has some great things, and it can't gather dust," Carrier said Monday as he released his last annual report in his role as commissioner.

"It must be something that is going to be on the leadership's desk on a daily basis."

The government plan on Official Languages was launched in October 2011. It is intended to ensure that the Official Languages Act is applied to all government departments and services.

Carrier said the provincial government needs to do more to preserve the vitality of the French language, adding that it's a concern for him when most work by New Brunswick civil servants is done in English before it's translated.

"What are the long term implications of such practice?" he said. "Inevitably, it is the vitality of the French language that could suffer."

The annual report also looks at an analysis of the 2011 Census data, carried out by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities. It shows a slight decline in the use of French in New Brunswick.

The commissioner's office handled 149 complaints in the past year, most concerning a lack of French-language services.

It is expected the provincial government will replace Carrier by the end of this month.

He said he looks back at his two five-year mandates with a sense of accomplishment, especially getting government to adopt the plan on Official Languages.

New Brunswick has been Canada's only officially bilingual province since 1969.