FREDERICTON (GNB) – The two commissioners appointed to undertake a review of the Official Languages Act and to find ways to improve second-language learning submitted their second report today.

Judge Yvette Finn and John McLaughlin were asked in February 2021 to complete both mandates by consulting with the public and key stakeholders, reviewing suggestions and recommendations submitted during the process and to present their recommendations to the government.

"I congratulate the commissioners for the thoroughness of their research, for asking questions that were sometimes difficult but necessary, and for being able to use the answers they obtained to make recommendations that will further inform our thinking and future decisions regarding second-language learning,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. "I also thank them and all the groups and individuals who took part in this important consultation. Now that we have the two reports and their recommendations in hand, our job is to determine what measures can be taken in the short and long term so that all New Brunswickers can better benefit from our linguistic, cultural and social heritage as Canada's only officially bilingual province."

The commissioners were asked to explore ways to ensure that as many students as possible in both the anglophone and francophone school systems graduate with a conversational proficiency in their second official language.

The commissioners presented their first report on the Review of the Official Languages Act on Dec. 15, 2021.

Today’s submission, 2021 Review of the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick – Report on second-language learning, was aimed at finding ways to help all New Brunswickers improve their understanding of both official languages.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to lead this exercise to improve both the Official Languages Act and second-language learning in our province,” said Finn. “Our province, like the rest of the world, is changing at a fast pace while dealing with unique social, economic, and demographic challenges. In that context and considering New Brunswick’s official bilingualism and our increasingly diverse population, we must strive to ensure that learning French or English as a second, or sometimes as a third or fourth language, is an opportunity available to everyone.”

“We know that language issues can raise passions because they are at the heart of our identity as individuals and as a province. For this reason, we are grateful for the sincerity and consideration with which participants have shared their experiences and ideas,” said McLaughlin. “We believe the recommendations in this report will strengthen the province’s ability to embrace language learning from birth through adulthood and will enhance the opportunity for all New Brunswickers to enjoy the benefits of communicating in both official languages. We believe every group and individual seems to want fairness within a context of greater linguistic harmony.”

The public is invited to review the two reports, which are available on the Public Consultation 2021 website.