Summary of language rights in Canada and complaint mechanisms


Applicable Norms

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, sections 16 to 20
Official Languages Act, SNB 2002, c. O-0.5


New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province of Canada. The Constitution not only recognizes the equality of English and French as to their use in the institutions of the provincial legislature and government, but also codifies the right of official language communities to such distinct educational and cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities.

The government of New Brunswick is required to make an active offer of services on a permanent basis in English and French of equal quality, throughout the province. Members of the public may therefore communicate with and require that they be served in the official language of their choice by all government departments and all courts, boards, commissions, offices, Crown corporations and services, including police and health services.

In addition, all cities in New Brunswick and eight other municipalities in the province are required to adopt and publish their by-laws and the minutes of their council meetings in both official languages. They must also publish various information and offer various services in both languages. The cities in question are Bathurst, Campbellton, Dieppe, Edmundston, Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton and Saint John, as well as the municipalities of Atholville, Charlo, Dalhousie, Eel River Crossing, Rexton, Richibucto, Shediac, and Tide Head.

Complaint Mechanism

The NBOLA provides a mechanism for filing a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The Commissioner of Official Languages is an independent officer of the legislature and holds significant investigative powers. A complaint can be submitted to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for any violation of the NBOLA by the following methods:

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