Languages in Canada

Canada is a bilingual country and both English and French are official languages. English is spoken by 59.3% of the population while 23.2% speak French and 17.5% speak other languages.

The Canadian federal government is also committed to advancing the equality of status and use of the English and French languages within Canadian society and provides support to the development of English and French linguistic minority communities.

Official Languages in Canada

Over six million people in Canada list a non-official language as their mother tongue. Some of the most common non-official first languages include Chinese, Italian, German, Punjabi and Spanish and the languages most spoken at home by 68.3% and 22.3% of the population respectively.

Other provinces have no official languages as such, but French is used as a language of instruction, in courts, and for other government services in addition to English. Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec allow for both English and French to be spoken in the provincial legislatures, and laws are enacted in both languages.

Bilingualism

Under the Official Languages Act, Canada is an officially bilingual country. This means that Canadians have the right to get federal government services in English or French, no matter what part of Canada they are living in. New Brunswick is the only province that is officially bilingual. New Brunswick residents receive services in both official languages from all of their provincial government departments and agencies.

In Quebec, French is the official language and in most cases, provincial and municipal services are provided in French. In the other provinces and territories, English is the official language, and the availability of provincial services in both official languages varies. At the municipal level, the availability of services in both official languages varies greatly.

Official bilingualism is defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Official Languages Act, and Official Language Regulations; it is applied by the Commissioner of Official Languages. English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions. Citizens have the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French, and official-language minorities are guaranteed their own schools in all provinces and territories.

Multiculturalism

Canada is populated by people who have come from every part of the world. Through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, the government encourages Canadians to take pride in their language, religion and heritage and to keep their customs and traditions, as long as they don't break Canadian laws.


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