It is the Premier’s responsibility, Blaine Higgs, to ensure the application of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act. The Premier is also responsible for the central coordination of a Plan on Official Languages and its implementation.
“The mandate of the Francophonie and Official Languages Branch is to coordinate and promote the activities of the New Brunswick government within the provincial, Canadian, and international Francophonie.” The FOLB works closely with the other provincial government departments, community and paragovernmental organizations, NGOs, and the private sector to promote the interests of the people of New Brunswick.
Shirley C. MacLean has been the New Brunswick Commissioner of Official Languages since 2020. “The position of Commissioner was created by the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick in 2002. The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is an independent agent of the Legislative Assembly [and appointed for a term of seven years]. Her role is to investigate, report on, and make recommendations with regard to compliance with the Official Languages Act. She is also responsible for the promotion and the advancement of both official languages in the province.”
Overview of the Laws, Policies and Regulations
The first Official Languages Act in New Brunswick was adopted in 1969. The current version of the Official Languages Act further specifies the language rights of New Brunswick with regard to those contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: English and French are the official languages of the province; they enjoy equality of status and equal rights and privileges in all institutions of the legislature and the government; their use is permitted in the Legislature and before the courts of the province; the public has the right to communicate with an office of the Legislature or the government and to receive services in both official languages (including services delivered by a third party). The statutes, records and journals of the legislature of New Brunswick are to be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative. The main purposes of the Act, as set out in section 1.1, are to ensure respect for English and French as the official languages of New Brunswick, that English and French have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Province and to set out the powers and duties of the institutions of the Province.
The Act also specifies the circumstances under which municipalities, regional service commissions and professional associations must communicate and/or offer their services in both official languages. The communications and services that must be offered in both official languages by the municipalities and regional service commissions are listed in the Services and Communications Regulation - Official Languages Act.
Finally, the Act stipulates a timeframe for its review by the Premier. The next review of the Official Languages Act must be completed no later than the end of 2021.
Section 19 (1) of the Regional Health Authorities Act identifies the operating language of the regional health authorities: Regional Health Authority A operates essentially in French and Regional Health Authority B operates essentially in English. Nevertheless, the regional health authorities must, through their network of health establishments, installations and programs, provide health services to the public in the official language of an individual's choice.
The purpose of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick is to recognize the existence and equality of the status, rights and privileges of the province’s two linguistic communities, to protect this equality through the right to separate institutions and that the government, through its actions, encourages the cultural, economic, educational and social development of these communities.
The Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines and the Official Languages - Language of Work Policy and Guidelines support departments, institutions and organizations regarding delivery of services in both official languages and the use of both official languages in the workplace.