5.1.9 Language laws
Sections 41 and 42 of the Official Languages Act commit the federal government to enhancing the vitality of English-speaking and French-speaking minority communities, as well as to fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society. This commitment ensures not only that official-language minority communities have access to services in their language, but also that all federal institutions actively contribute to the development and vitality of these communities. Thus, all federal cultural programmes and policies are structured according to two separate official linguistic communities and markets.
Second (official)-language learning support programmes are among the most important tools in developing an inclusive and participatory society in Canada. For 35 years, the government of Canada has provided financial assistance to the provinces and territories, which together have jurisdiction over education. The Department has signed four-year agreements with the Council of Minister of Education, Canada and the provinces and territories for specific measures related to second-language learning. The objective of the Enhancement of Official Languages Programme and the Action Plan for Official Languages is to double the proportion of Canadian youth between 15 and 19 years old who have a working knowledge of both official languages and a greater understanding and appreciation of the benefits of linguistic duality. In addition to the second language learning programmes, the Department of Canadian Heritage also implements the Development of Official-Language Communities Programme (see chapter 4.2.5).