EDMONTON, December 1st, 2020 – The ACFA joins Francophone and Acadian minority communities nationwide in an urgent plea on this national day of Francophone solidarity. In the closing weeks of a year which has shown more than ever the erosion of the status of French, we are asking the federal government to confirm a timetable for modernizing the Official Languages Act.
“Every day, and even more recently, French-speaking Albertans are witnessing the fragility of their achievements regarding the Francophonie. Campus Saint-Jean, the province’s only French-language post-secondary institution, suffers from chronic underfunding that threatens its existence. The Francophone communities of Calgary and Grande Prairie have lost some of their gains in terms of Francophone employment centers. Or, the provincial government still refuses to adopt the bilingual federal application, COVID Alert, which is detrimental to the health and safety of Albertans, including the French-speaking population.” says ACFA President Sheila Risbud.
The ACFA finds it very worrisome that 10 days before Parliament adjourns for the Holidays, the government has given no indication on when it intends to introduce a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act. The ACFA fears that a bill introduced too late may not be adopted before the next election.
“In the Speech from the Throne delivered on September 23rd, the federal government committed to protecting and promoting French throughout the country. Therefore, we wish to see exemplary leadership in this regard, now. “, continued Ms. Risbud.
Francophone and Acadian communities want a modernized Act which, among other things, would designate a central authority responsible for overseeing implementation of language obligations throughout the federal government. This would ensure that failures to communicate in both official languages in an emergency situation, such as the COVID-19 crisis, do not happen again. A modernized Act would also commit the federal government, as well as provinces and territories, to increased efforts in terms of protection and promotion of French. It would eliminate obstacles to French second-language education, and create an official languages tribunal so that citizens can easily and quickly obtain redress for violations of the Act.
The ACFA is encouraging citizens to visit ourofficiallanguages.ca and write to their MP to demand immediate action for the modernization of the Official Languages Act.
Since 1926, the ACFA has been the voice of the French-speaking community in Alberta. Its role is to promote the interests of the latter and ensure its overall development.
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Alexandra Ventura-Giroux, Public Affairs Manager, ACFA
T 780.466.1680, ext. 217