Canada/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.8 Other areas of culture specific legislation

Although Ministerial responsibility for multiculturalism has been transferred to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and {now} Multiculturalism, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (assented to in 1988) most definitely applies to all Canadian Heritage programmes.  Section 3 (1) of the Act includes ten elements that comprise the multiculturalism policy of the government of Canada:

(a) recognise and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage;

(b) recognise and promote the understanding that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada's future;

(c) promote the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society and assist them in the elimination of any barrier to that participation;

(d) recognise the existence of communities whose members share a common origin and their historic contribution to Canadian society, and enhance their development;

(e) ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity;

(f) encourage and assist the social, cultural, economic and political institutions of Canada to be both respectful and inclusive of Canada's multicultural character;

(g) promote the understanding and creativity that arise from the interaction between individuals and communities of different origins;

(h) foster the recognition and appreciation of the diverse cultures of Canadian society and promote the reflection and the evolving expressions of those cultures;

(i) preserve and enhance the use of languages other than English and French, while strengthening the status and use of the official languages of Canada; and

(j) advance multiculturalism throughout Canada in harmony with the national commitment to the official languages of Canada.

The Programme is further supported by other legislation including: the Canadian Citizenship Act (1985); the Canadian Human Rights Act (1985); and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), the latter contained in Part II of the Constitution Act (1982). Under the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (assented to in 1988), federal institutions report annually to the Department of Canadian Heritage on their implementation of initiatives to preserve and advance an equitable and respectful multicultural society. Other examples of sector-specific laws that relate to diverse multiculturalism include:  the Employment Equity Act (1995); the Official Languages Act (1985 including Part VII of the Act, 1988); and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2001).  In addition, Canada has ratified a number of international instruments that uphold the fundamental values of multiculturalism, namely: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1977); and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1977).  In 1970, Canada became a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.


Chapter published: 24-11-2008


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