Executive Summary – The Official Languages Act: Understanding Its Principles and Implementation

(Disponible en français : Résumé – La Loi sur les langues officielles : comprendre ses principes et son régime d’application)

The purpose of the Official Languages Act (OLA) is to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of Canada. It was enacted in 1969 and revised in 1988; that version of the legislation is still in force, and Parliament has recently debated modernizing it.

This backgrounder gives an overview of the principles and implementation of the OLA. It also looks at the federal institutions responsible for implementing the OLA, those that are subject to it and recent debates about the legislation. The backgrounder enables parliamentarians and members of the public with a limited knowledge of the OLA to quickly learn more about the federal language regime without delving into its constitutional, regulatory and policy framework.

Read the full text of the Background Paper: The Official Languages Act: Understanding Its Principles and Implementation

Author: Marie-Ève Hudon, Library of Parliament