FREDERICTON (GNB) – The two commissioners appointed to undertake a review of the Official Languages Act and find ways to improve second-language learning submitted their first report to Premier Blaine Higgs today.

Judge Yvette Finn and John McLaughlin presented the 2021 Review of New Brunswick's Official Languages Act – Organization, Communication and Engagement report. The report contains recommendations to improve the provisions of the act and ensure its full implementation.

“I thank the commissioners for their thoughtful and professional leadership and I also thank the individuals, groups and associations who participated in this important review process,” said Higgs. “We will take time to review the report and recommendations to determine the best course of action to improve the act and the second-language learning in our province. New Brunswick is unique and as Canada's only officially bilingual province, we have much to be proud of. Official bilingualism is a valuable part of our culture and history and will continue to be so in the future.”

The commissioners were mandated to oversee the review process, to consult with the public and key stakeholders, to review suggestions and recommendations submitted during the process and to present a final report with recommendations to the government. As is required by provisions under the Official Languages Act, the review must have been completed by Dec. 31, 2021.

“This was a very positive review exercise, and we had the opportunity to engage in frank and respectful discussions and to learn from thoughtful and open-minded people,” said Finn. “We know that feelings around language issues can be very passionate as they are at the heart of who we are as individuals and as a province. We are grateful for the sincerity and thoughtfulness with which participants have shared their experiences and ideas.”

“Personally, being part of this exercise has given me a new perspective on the interest New Brunswickers have in language issues,” said McLaughlin. “We hope that our recommendations will help promote the vitality of each official language community and strengthen the province's ability to provide quality services in both English and French. This will allow New Brunswick to fully realize its role as a leader in official languages, and as the only officially bilingual province in Canada.”

In addition to the formal review of the Official Languages Act , the commissioners were asked to identify ways to improve access to both official languages for all New Brunswickers The commissioners have agreed with the provincial government that a separate report will be submitted in January.

The public is invited to review the commissioners' report, which is available on the Public Consultation 2021 website.