Official Languages

A look at Canada's official languages “by the numbers.”

Compiled by Canada’s History

February 12, 2019

Canadians have used French and English in parliamentary debates and courts since Confederation, and the country has recognized them as official languages for the past fifty years.

The Official Languages Act of 1969, established under former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s government, aimed to ensure Canadians had access to federal services in either language.

In 1988, the Official Languages Act was revised, and it was updated again in 2005, all to extend and to promote the use of both languages.

428,625

Number of students in public elementary and secondary schools who were enrolled in French immersion programs in 2015–16, excluding those in Quebec and Nunavut. The number was up by 4.6 per cent from the previous year.

1

Number of provinces that are officially bilingual (New Brunswick). In Quebec, French is the only official language.

18

Percentage of people in Canada who are bilingual. It’s the highest percentage in history.

30

Percentage of people in Canada who can hold a conversation in French.

200+

Number of mother tongues or languages spoken most often at home in Canada, including English and French.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018-January 2019 issue of Canada’s History.

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