Official Languages Commissioner Raymond Theberge responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday May 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Commissioner recommends updating Canada’s Official Languages Act by 2021

He also called for the Official Languages Act to be fully modernized by 2021

Canada’s official languages commissioner says bilingual greetings such as “Hello! Bonjour!” should be the standard at airports, border crossings and Service Canada counters, and that full service should be available in both English and French.

Raymond Theberge’s latest report says the Official Languages Act already obliges federal institutions to offer service in both languages, but the rules are applied inconsistently and he argues they should be clarified through new regulations.

READ MORE: ‘Swole’, ‘buzzy’ among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

Theberge concluded that when Canadians are greeted in both languages, they respond in the language of their choice 80 per cent of the time — a number that drops significantly if only one language is used.

The commissioner notes a more than 20-per-cent increase in the number of complaints over the past year, with the largest number coming from the National Capital Region in Ottawa and Gatineau.

He also called for the Official Languages Act to be fully modernized by 2021 in order to make it more current, dynamic and robust.

Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly has already announced that a series of consultations will be held aimed at updating the law.

The Canadian Press

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