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Federal government falling behind on official languages.

Last March, Minister Mélanie Joly dropped her title of Minister of Official Languages — for reasons still unknown — even though this title usually goes hand in hand with that of Minister of Heritage.

Since then, a number of official languages issues have fallen by the wayside.

Despite the fact that the government was elected a year ago and that everyone knew that the Commissioner of Official Languages’ term was coming to an end, the government is dragging its feet in finding his replacement, and will instead be naming an interim commissioner.

On top of that, despite a 40% increase in complaints, the government has still not hired any additional professionals to permanent positions. The Office is instead issuing a call for bidders to a temporary subcontractor position.

The government has had ample time to get organized — but it seems official languages are simply not a priority.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that official languages programs are not adequately funded in Canada.

And at the end of the day, it’s minority language communities that suffer.

As deputy chair of the Senate Committee on Official Languages, I have had the opportunity on numerous occasions to study the barriers faced by Canadians living in a minority language setting.

From access to justice, to education, to culture in minority communities, our committee has discovered the need for ongoing efforts to maintain a fair quality of life for all Canadians.

To be a member of the Francophonie is more than just flying to conferences around the world, as the Prime Minister did recently to Madagascar to attend the Francophonie Summit.

When will the government start taking official languages seriously?

Rose-May Poirier is a senator representing New Brunswick. She is the Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Official Languages.

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