Kris Austin , leader of the People’s Alliance party, is calling on government and the official opposition to table a repeal of new far reaching language requirements placed on professional associations. The newly implemented changes to the Official Languages Act, which were unanimously passed under the Alward Conservative government during the secret closed door hearings in 2013 and reaffirmed in 2015 by the current Gallant government, took effect July 1st.
Professional associations such as the New Brunswick Real Estate Association and the New Brunswick Association of Land Surveyors now are required to offer service and publications in both official languages.
This past Tuesday, the New Brunswick Language Commissioner, Katherine D’Entremont, encouraged the people of the province to begin submitting complaints to her office for non-compliance of the new law.
“The last thing people want in this province is another strong-armed approach to language by the Language Commissioner’s office,” says Austin. “The Office is redundant, inefficient, and does nothing but further divide New Brunswickers. ”
Austin says if neither the Liberals nor Conservatives will act now, one of the first orders of business for a People’s Alliance government in the future would be to repeal the amendments and have an open review of the Official Languages Act, with submissions accepted equally by parties from both linguistic communities.
“The Languages Act was meant to ensure that a unilingual citizen could receive government services in his or her own language. Extending it to force language requirements on private associations is a gross overreach, and it needs to end,” Austin emphasized.
The party would also abolish the office of the Language Commissioner, and future complaints would be deferred to the local MLA, the minister responsible for Official Languages, or the Ombudsman.