Acts and Regulations

o-0.5 - Official Languages Act

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Document at 4 November 2013
CHAPTER O-0.5
Official Languages Act
Assented to June 7, 2002
WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada provides that English and French are the official languages of New Brunswick and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Legislature and Government of New Brunswick;
AND WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada confers upon the public, in New Brunswick, the right to use English or French in the Legislature and in the courts of New Brunswick, as well as to have access to the laws of New Brunswick in both official languages;
AND WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada also provides for the right of any member of the public to communicate with and to receive available services from any office of an institution of the Legislature or Government of New Brunswick in either official language;
AND WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada also recognizes that the English linguistic community and the French linguistic community in New Brunswick have equality of status and equal rights and privileges, including the right to distinct educational institutions and such distinct cultural institutions as are necessary for the preservation and promotion of those communities;
AND WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada affirms, with respect to both official languages, the authority of the Legislature and Government of New Brunswick to advance the status, rights and privileges set out therein;
AND WHEREAS New Brunswick is committed to enacting an Official Languages Act that respects the rights conferred by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and allows the Legislature and the Government to fulfill their obligations under the Charter;
NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly, enacts as follows:
Definitions
1In this Act
“city” means a city within the meaning of section 16 of the Municipalities Act; (cité)
“communication” and “communicate” mean any form of communication whether spoken, written or electronic; (communication) et (communiquer)
“court” means any court or administrative tribunal in the Province (tribunaux)
“Crown corporation” means a corporation that is accountable, through a Minister, to the Legislative Assembly for the conduct of its affairs, and includes a parent Crown corporation or a wholly-owned subsidiary; (sociétés de la Couronne)
“department” means a department as defined in section 1 of the Financial Administration Act; (ministère)
“institution” means an institution of the Legislative Assembly or the Government of New Brunswick, the courts, any board, commission or council, or other body or office, established to perform a governmental function by or pursuant to an Act of the Legislature or by or under the authority of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, a department of the Government of New Brunswick, a Crown corporation established by or pursuant to an Act of the Legislature or any other body that is specified by an Act of the Legislature to be an agent of Her Majesty in right of the Province or to be subject to the direction of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council or a minister of the Crown; (institution)
“linguistic community” means either of the English linguistic community or the French linguistic community of New Brunswick within the meaning of section 16.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (communauté linguistique)
“municipality” means a municipality within the meaning of section 1 of the Municipalities Act; (municipalité)
“official languages” means the official languages of New Brunswick within the meaning of subsection 16(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (langues officielles)
“peace officer” means a peace officer as defined under section 1 of the Provincial Offences Procedure Act who serves the public, whether on behalf of the Province, a municipality or under a contract for the delivery of policing services with the Province or its institutions and includes a police officer as defined under that Act; (agent de la paix)
“publication” and “published” mean all forms of publication, whether paper or electronic. (publication) et (publier)
2011, c.20, s.11
Interpretation
Minister responsible
2The Premier is responsible for the administration of this Act.
Act prevails, exception
3(1)No act, or regulation under it, other than this Act, shall be interpreted so as to repeal, limit or contravene a provision of this Act and, in case of conflict, this Act prevails.
3(2)Subsection (1) does not apply to the Education Act or any other act, legislative provision or measure which promotes the equality of the two linguistic communities or establishes distinct educational institutions or distinct cultural institutions.
Distinct institutions
4Distinct educational institutions and distinct cultural institutions and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the school system in New Brunswick including the English and French sections of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development including schools and their committees, councils and boards, community centres and universities and, where applicable, community colleges are not included in the definition of “institution” in section 1.
2010, c.31, s.100
Authority of Legislature
5Nothing in this Act limits the authority of the Legislature or the Government to advance the equality of status and use of English and French.
Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly
Language of the Legislature
6English and French are the official languages of the Legislature and everyone has the right to use either language in any debate and other proceeding of the Legislative Assembly or its committees.
Interpretation of proceedings of the Legislative Assembly
7Simultaneous interpretation of the debates and other proceedings of the Legislative Assembly shall be made available by the Legislature.
Records and journals of the Legislative Assembly
8The records, journals and reports of the Legislative Assembly and its committees shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative.
Legislative and other instruments
Language of legislation
9English and French are the official languages of legislation.
Equal authority of both language versions
10The English and French versions of legislation are equally authoritative.
Introduction of bills
11Bills shall be simultaneously introduced in both official languages before the Legislative Assembly and shall be simultaneously adopted and assented to in both official languages.
Acts of the Legislature
12The Acts of the Legislature shall be printed and published in both official languages.
Required publication in The Royal Gazette
13Rules, orders, Orders-in-Council and proclamations required to be published in The Royal Gazette shall be printed and published in both official languages.
Official documents
14Notices, advertisements and other announcements of an official nature, whether required to be published in The Royal Gazette or not, shall be printed and published in both official languages.
Documents published under an Act of the Province
15Notices, announcements and other documents required to be published under this Act or any other Act by the Province or its institutions shall be printed and published in both official languages.
The administration of justice
Language of the courts
16English and French are the official languages of the courts.
Right to use language of choice
17Every person has the right to use the official language of his or her choice in any matter before the courts, including all proceedings, or in any pleading or process issuing from a court.
Person not to be disadvantaged by choice
18No person shall be placed at a disadvantage by reason of the choice made under section 17.
Obligation placed on the court to understand language chosen
19(1)A court before which a matter is pending must understand, without the assistance of an interpreter or any process of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation, the official language chosen under section 17 by a party to the matter.
19(2)A court before which a matter is pending must understand both official languages, without the assistance of an interpreter or any process of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation, if both English and French are the languages chosen by the parties to the proceedings.
Accused’s right to be heard in the language of choice
20(1)A person who is alleged to have committed an offence under an Act or a regulation of the Province or under a municipal by-law has the right to have the proceedings conducted in the language of his or her choice and shall be informed of that right by the presiding judge before entering a plea.
20(2)A person who is alleged to have committed an offence within the meaning of subsection (1), has the right to be understood by the court, without the assistance of an interpreter or any process of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation, in the official language chosen by the person.
Rights of the witness
21Every court has the duty to ensure that any witness appearing before it can be heard in the official language of his or her choice and upon the request of one of the parties or the witness, the court has the duty to ensure that services of simultaneous translation or consecutive interpretation are available to the person who made the request.
Obligation on Her Majesty to use language of the parties
22Where Her Majesty in right of the Province or an institution is a party to civil proceedings before a court, Her Majesty or the institution concerned shall use, in any oral or written pleadings or any process issuing from a court, the official language chosen by the other party.
Disagreement between parties as to language of use
23Where the parties to civil proceedings, other than Her Majesty in right of the Province or an institution, do not choose or fail to agree on the official language to be used in the proceedings, Her Majesty or the institution concerned shall use such official language as is reasonable, having regard to the circumstances.
Publication of decisions
24(1)Any final decision, order or judgment of any court, including any reasons given therefore and summaries, shall be published in both official languages where
(a) it determines a question of law of interest or importance to the general public, or
(b) the proceedings leading to its issuance were conducted in whole or in part in both official languages.
24(2)Where a final decision, order or judgment is required to be published under subsection (1), but it is determined that to do so would result in a delay or injustice or hardship to a party to the proceedings, the decision, order or judgment, including any reasons given, shall be published in the first instance in one official language and, thereafter, at the earliest possible time, in the other official language.
Publication of Court of Appeal decisions
25All decisions of the Court of Appeal are deemed to fall within the scope of section 24.
Rendering of a judgment
26Sections 24 and 25 shall not be construed so as to prevent the pronouncement of a judgment, including the reasons in support of the judgment, in either official language and in such a case, the judgment is not invalid by reason only that it was pronounced in one official language.
Communication with the public
Communications with government and its institutions
27Members of the public have the right to communicate with any institution and to receive its services in the official language of their choice.
Obligations of institutions
28An institution shall ensure that members of the public are able to communicate with and to receive its services in the official language of their choice.
28.1An institution shall ensure that appropriate measures are taken to make it known to members of the public that its services are available in the official language of their choice.
Posting of signs and publications intended for the public
29Institutions shall publish all postings, publications and documents intended for the general public in both official languages.
Services rendered on behalf of the Province
30The Province and its institutions are responsible for ensuring that all services offered to the public by third parties on their behalf are delivered in both official languages.
Policing services
Services provided by a peace officer
31(1)Members of the public have the right, when communicating with a peace officer, to receive service in the official language of their choice and must be informed of that right.
31(2)If a peace officer is unable to provide service in the language chosen under subsection (1), the peace officer shall take whatever measures are necessary, within a reasonable time, to ensure compliance with the choice made under subsection (1).
31(3)A police force or agency, as the case may be, shall ensure the availability of the means necessary to respond to the choice made by a member of the public under subsection (1) and to support the obligation placed on a peace officer under subsection (2).
Application of section 31
32Section 31 does not limit the obligations placed on peace officers under any other Act or law to deliver services to the public in both official languages.
Health services
Health services
33(1)For the purposes of the provision of health services in the Province and notwithstanding the definition of “institution” in section 1, an institution in sections 27 and 28 refers to the network of health establishments, facilities and programs under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health or the regional health authorities under the Regional Health Authorities Act.
33(2)When establishing a provincial health plan under the Regional Health Authorities Act, the Minister of Health shall
(a) ensure that the principles upon which the provision of health services are to be based include the delivery of health services in both official languages in the Province, and
(b) consider the language of daily operations under section 34.
2006, c.16, s.128
Effect of section 33
34Subject to the obligation to serve members of the public in the official language of their choice, section 33 does not limit the use of one official language in the daily operations of a hospital or other facility as defined in the Regional Health Authorities Act.
Municipalities
By-laws, minutes of council
35(1)A municipality whose official language minority population represents at least 20% of its total population is required to adopt and publish its by-laws in both official languages.
35(2)A city is required to adopt and publish its by-laws in both official languages irrespective of the percentage required under subsection (1).
35(3)A municipality or city to which subsection (1) or (2) applies that adopts a new by-law or amends an existing by-law after December 31, 2002, shall do so in both official languages.
35(4)Except in the case of a by-law referred to in subsection (3), a municipality or city to which subsection (1) or (2) applies, other than Moncton, shall adopt and publish its by-laws in both official languages on or before December 31, 2005.
35(5)Subsection (3) applies, with the necessary modifications, to the minutes of council proceedings.
Communications and services
36A municipality or city to which subsection 35(1), (2) or section 37 applies shall offer the services and communications prescribed by regulation in both official languages.
Opting-in by municipalities
37A municipality may, by by-law of its municipal council, declare itself bound by the provisions of this Act and nothing in this Act shall be interpreted so as to limit the authority of municipalities to promote the equality of status and use of English and French.
Effect of opting-in
38The provisions of subsections 35(3), (4) and (5) apply, with the necessary modifications, to a municipality under section 37.
Regional Service Commissions
2012, c.44, s.15
Regional Service Commissions
39A regional service commission covering a geographical area with an official language minority population of at least 20% of the total population is subject to the obligations imposed by section 41.
2012, c.44, s.15
Cities and Municipalities
40Where the geographical area of a regional service commission includes a municipality or a city to which subsection 35(1) or (2) applies, the regional service commission is subject to the obligations imposed by section 41 irrespective of the percentage required under section 39.
2012, c.44, s.15
Communications and services
41A regional service commission to which section 39 or 40 apply shall offer the services and communications prescribed by regulation in both official languages.
2012, c.44, s.15
Review of Act
Review of Act
42(1)The Premier shall initiate a review of this Act before December 31, 2012.
42(2)A review under subsection (1) shall be in the form and manner prescribed by regulation.
Commissioner of Official Languages
Mandate and responsibilities of Commissioner
43(1)There shall be an Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, as well as a Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.
43(2)Subject to subsections (2.1) to (2.4), the Commissioner shall be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly, shall rank as and have all the powers of a deputy head of a department, shall engage exclusively in the duties of the office of the Commissioner and shall not hold any other office under Her Majesty or engage in any other employment.
43(2.1)Before an appointment is made under subsection (2), a selection committee shall be established for the purpose of identifying persons as potential candidates to be appointed Commissioner.
43(2.2)The selection committee shall be composed of
(a) the Clerk of the Executive Council or a person designated by the Clerk of the Executive Council,
(b) the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly or a person designated by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly,
(c) a member of the judiciary, and
(d) a member of the university community.
43(2.3)The selection committee shall develop a roster of qualified candidates and submit a list of names of qualified candidates to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.
43(2.4)The Premier shall consult with the leader of the opposition and the leaders of the other political parties having representation in the Legislative Assembly during the most recent sitting with respect to one or more qualified candidates from the selection committee’s list of qualified candidates.
43(2.5)The Commissioner is an officer of the Legislative Assembly.
43(3)Subject to subsection (4), the Commissioner shall hold office for a term of seven years and is not eligible for reappointment.
43(4)The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may extend the term of the Commissioner for a period of not more than 12 months.
43(4.1)The Commissioner may resign from office by notice in writing addressed to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or, if there is no Speaker or the Speaker is absent from the Province, to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.
43(4.2)The Speaker or the Clerk, as the case may be, shall immediately inform the Lieutenant-Governor in Council of the Commissioner’s resignation.
43(4.3)The Commissioner shall hold office during good behaviour and may only be removed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council for incapacity, neglect of duty or misconduct upon an address in which 2/3 of the members of the Legislative Assembly concur.
43(4.4)The Lieutenant-Governor in Council, upon an address in which a majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly voting concur, may suspend the Commissioner, with or without pay, pending an investigation that may lead to removal under subsection (4.3).
43(4.5)If the Legislature is not in session, a judge of The Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick may, on an application by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, suspend the Commissioner, with or without pay, for incapacity, neglect of duty or misconduct.
43(5)If the Lieutenant-Governor in Council makes an application under subsection (4.5), the practice and procedure of The Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick respecting applications applies.
43(5.1)If a judge of The Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick suspends the Commissioner under subsection (4.5), the judge shall do the following:
(a) appoint an acting Commissioner to hold office until the suspension has been dealt with by the Legislative Assembly; and
(b) table a report on the suspension with the Legislative Assembly within ten days after the commencement of the next session of the Legislature.
43(5.2)No suspension under subsection (4.5) shall continue beyond the end of the next session of the Legislature.
43(5.3)If the Commissioner has been suspended under subsection (4.4), the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint an acting Commissioner to hold office until the suspension has elapsed.
43(5.4)An acting Commissioner, while in office, has the powers and duties of the Commissioner and shall be paid such salary or other remuneration and expenses as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may fix.
43(5.5) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint an acting Commissioner for a term of up to one year if
(a) the office of Commissioner becomes vacant during a sitting of the Legislative Assembly, but the Legislative Assembly does not make a recommendation under subsection (2) before the end of the sitting, or
(b) the office of Commissioner becomes vacant while the Legislative Assembly is not sitting.
43(5.6)The appointment of an acting Commissioner comes to an end when a new Commissioner is appointed under subsection (2).
43(5.7)If the Commissioner is unable to act because of illness, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint an acting Commissioner, whose appointment comes to an end when the Commissioner is again able to act or when the office becomes vacant.
43(5.8)An appointment under subsection (5.1), (5.3), (5.5) or (5.7) shall not impede a person’s subsequent appointment under subsection (2).
43(5.9)The Premier shall consult with the leader of the opposition before an appointment is made under subsection (5.3), (5.5) or (5.7).
43(6)Notwithstanding the Civil Service Act, the Commissioner may appoint such persons to positions in the Office of the Commissioner as he or she considers necessary to enable the fulfillment of the Commissioner’s responsibilities under this Act.
43(6.1)The Commissioner shall be paid an annual salary as determined by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council within the deputy head pay plan, and is entitled to receive benefits similar to those received by deputy heads.
43(7)The Public Service Superannuation Act applies to the Commissioner and the employees of the Office of the Commissioner.
43(8)The Commissioner may contract for such professional services, for limited periods of time or in respect of particular matters, as he or she considers necessary to enable the fulfillment of the Commissioner’s responsibilities under this Act.
43(9)In accordance with the authority provided to the Commissioner under this Act, it is the role of the Commissioner to investigate, report on and make recommendations with regard to compliance with this Act and to promote the advancement of both official languages in the Province.
43(10)In order to fulfill the role under subsection (9), the Commissioner shall conduct and carry out investigations either pursuant to any complaint made to the Commissioner or on his or her own initiative and shall, as provided in this Act, report and make recommendations with respect to such investigations.
43(11)The Commissioner may refuse to investigate or cease to investigate any complaint if, in the opinion of the Commissioner,
(a) the subject-matter of the complaint is trivial,
(b) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith, or
(c) the subject-matter of the complaint does not involve a contravention or failure to comply with this Act or, for any other reason, does not come within the authority of the Commissioner under this Act.
43(12)If the Commissioner refuses to investigate or ceases to investigate any complaint, the Commissioner shall inform the complainant and provide reasons for the decision to do so.
43(13)Before commencing an investigation under this Act, the Commissioner shall inform the deputy head or other administrative head of the institution concerned of his or her intention to carry out the investigation.
43(14)Subject to this Act, the Commissioner may determine the procedure to be followed in carrying out an investigation under this Act.
43(15)For the purposes of this Act, the Commissioner is a commissioner under the Inquiries Act.
43(16)After carrying out an investigation pursuant to a complaint under this Act, the Commissioner shall communicate the results of the investigation and any recommendations, including any opinion and the reasons for the recommendations, only to the Premier, the deputy head or other administrative head of the institution concerned and the complainant.
43(17)After carrying out an investigation on his or her own initiative, the Commissioner shall communicate the results of the investigation and any recommendations, including any opinion and the reasons for the recommendations, only to the Premier and the deputy head or other administrative head of the institution concerned.
43(18)If a complainant is not satisfied with the conclusions of the Commissioner received under subsection (16) or with the resolution of the complaint, the complainant may apply to The Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick for a remedy.
43(19)The judge of a court referred to in subsection (18) may grant such remedy as he or she considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.
43(20)This section does not affect any other right of action that a person may have.
43(21)The Commissioner shall, within such time as is reasonably practicable after the end of each year, prepare and submit to the Legislative Assembly, a report concerning the activities of the Office of the Commissioner in the preceding year.
2013, c.1, s.6; 2013, c.38, s.1
Appointment of Official Translators
Appointment of Official Translators
44The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint such Official Translators as are necessary to enable a court to discharge the duties conferred on it by this Act.
Regulation-making authority
Regulation-making authority
45The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations
(a) prescribing circumstances not otherwise provided for under this Act in which institutions have the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services from the institutions in either official language;
(b) respecting the procedure, as it concerns official languages, before any court, including
(i) the giving of notice as is necessary to enable the court to discharge the duty conferred upon it by section 21, and
(ii) the swearing or affirming of interpreters;
(c) respecting services and communications to be provided under sections 36 and 41 and the manner in which they are to be provided;
(d) identifying measures required to foster effective communications with and services from institutions in both official languages;
(e) respecting the form and manner of a review under section 42;
(f) respecting the functions of persons appointed under section 44 and the status and admissibility into evidence of translations prepared by them;
(g) establishing any other measure necessary for the better administration of this Act.
Repeal
Repeal
46The Official Languages of New Brunswick Act, chapter O-1 of the Revised Statutes, 1973, is repealed.
Commencement
Commencement
47(1)This Act, except for section 43, comes into force on August 5, 2002.
47(2)Section 43 comes into force on April 1, 2003.
N.B. This Act is consolidated to June 21, 2013.