[lg policy] New Brunswick: Fredericton reviews bilingualism policy
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Wed Jan 25 16:17:04 UTC 2012
Fredericton reviews bilingualism policy
Coun. Marilyn Kerton says the policy is too costly, restrictive
Posted: Jan 24, 2012 11:51 AM AT
Brad Woodside sidesteps language battle
Fredericton councillor questions translation costs
Coun. Marilyn Kerton thinks the provincial Official Languages Act
should be sufficient. (City of Fredericton)
Fredericton council has voted to review a proposed policy for ensuring
that city departments comply with the province's Official Languages
Act. However, the move was not a unanimous decision during a council
committee meeting Monday night. Coun. Marilyn Kerton said she agrees
that francophone residents have the right to be served in their own
language. But, she said, enacting the policy as a part of the city's
regulations is going too far.
"I think that we are starting down a slippery slope. I don't think the
city of Fredericton needs an official languages policy at this point
in time," said Kerton. "We already have the provincial policy and I
don't see why we need one in the city as well. It's already
duplication of services." In addition, Kerton worries such a policy
could end up costing the city a lot of money and restrict the hiring
of employees to only those who are bilingual.
Meanwhile, Coun. Bruce Grandy, who also voted against the policy
motion, contends it should it be better defined to ensure the
protection of second-language rights in the city. A draft proposal
will now go before full council to ensure every department is aware of
what the rules are under the provincial legislation, as well as who
will be in charge of making sure they are followed. The city has been
working on a comprehensive review of its bilingualism policy since
last spring. The provincial government must begin to review the
Official Languages Act in 2012.
Kerton suggested the city should hold off on reviewing its language
policy until after the provincial review is completed. The New
Brunswick government updated the Official Languages Act in 2002 after
the Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Moncton property owner Mario
Charlebois. The ruling dealt with whether Moncton should translate its
bylaws. That court decision forced the provincial government to change
the province’s language law.
Review of proposed translation cuts
In September, Coun. Kerton suggested the city get rid of interpreters
for city council meetings, saying it could save more than $30,000 a
Kerton said the city pays more than $1,200 per meeting to have
translators on hand in case someone wants to address council in
But she could only remember that happening once since 2003, so she
argued it was "ridiculous" and a waste of money.
But Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside said he wanted to wait until the
city's review and a review by the official languages commissioner were
New Brunswick’s Official Languages Act outlines what services a city
must perform in both languages, such as providing bylaws and minutes
of meetings in both English and French.
It is not clear if that includes live translations at council meetings.
Michel Carrier, the province's official languages commissioner, is
looking at whether cutting such a service would be legal.
New Brunswick’s eight cities and other communities, that hit a
specific threshold in terms of minority language communities, have
certain obligations under the act.
Saint John's city council cut its live translation service in April,
saying it would save about $30,000 a year. Residents can still get a
translator at a meeting if they book a week ahead.
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