Video - 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act

Catalogue number: Catalogue number: 11-629-x

Issue number: 2019005

Release date: December 10, 2019

50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act")

Canada has a rich history of publishing language data collected in its census and major statistical surveys.

After the Official Languages Act was passed in 1969, the Canadian census asked questions on first language learned in childhood and the ability to speak English or French.

Fifty years later, the most recent census included seven questions on the languages of Canadians.

Not only did the information on language collected by Statistics Canada influence the content of the first Official Languages Act in 1969, but to this day, it still plays an important role across the country in the development of language planning laws, in the work of public commissions and parliamentary and senate committees, and in the development and implementation of official languages programs and policies.

Statistics Canada data are used to answer such questions as:

  • What is the level of English–French bilingualism across Canada?
  • Do newcomers speak English or French?
  • How many young people attend a French immersion program in Canada?

While the census is a rich source of data on official languages and the populations who use them, other sources include the 2006 Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities, international adult literacy and life skills surveys, and the Elementary–Secondary Education Survey.

Canada has changed immensely since the Official Languages Act came into force. Fifty years ago, only 15% of Canada's population was born outside of the country, compared with 22% in the 2016 Census. With this increase comes an increase in the linguistic diversity of Canada.

However, knowledge of an official language are still key to integration into Canadian society, as 9 out of 10 Canadians use either English or French on at least a regular basis at home or at work.

As Canada begins the process to modernize the Official Languages Act, the data collected by Statistics Canada will once again be used to provide reliable, timely and high-quality information that will be useful for this process.

(Canada wordmark appears.)

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