Lapierre ‘disappointed’ by proposed changes to languages act

The mayor of Dieppe is expressing his disappointment with New Brunswick’s proposed amendments to the Official Languages Act.

Provincial officials tabled the amendments on March 29, with an aim to define the role and functions of a new secretariat responsible for reviewing the act regularly and make recommendations for amendments.

Premier Blaine Higgs said the move would allow New Brunswick to be “better equipped to continue fully realizing its role as a leader in bilingualism.”

But Yvon Lapierre, the mayor of Dieppe, said he is disappointed with the minimal changes being proposed, noting the removal of the requirement to review the act every 10 years.

“One of the review’s objectives is to improve the act by considering the recommendations of various groups in our society, and by working to achieve a substantive equality of both official languages,” he said in a statement.

“Without the review, that opportunity will no longer exist. In addition, opening the door to not reviewing the act at all allows changes to be made behind the scenes without public debate.”

During a recent review of the act, Lapierre said the City of Dieppe expressed the importance to protect and promote French. Citing data suggesting the use of French is dropping across Canada, he said the province “chooses not to bolster the act.”

“I doubt that the proposed changes are the solution to achieving equality between both linguistic communities in Canada’s only officially bilingual province,” said Lapierre, adding he’s also disappointed that there were no suggestions on maintaining linguistic balance.

“No measures are being put forward to uphold the proportion of francophones, which is constantly decreasing. The proposed act definitely does not live up to our expectations and unfortunately does not reflect today’s realities.”

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