During the Premier’s appearance before the Standing Committee on Estimates and Fiscal Policy Wednesday, the Official Opposition Leader learned that no funds have been set aside for the implementation of the 2021 Review of the Official Languages Act.
“Premier Higgs has yet to provide his position on the report of the 2021 Review of the Official Languages Act, but yesterday confirmed that there is no money dedicated to it in the 2022-23 budget” says Official Opposition Leader Roger Melanson. “This all but confirms that the Higgs Government has no plans to implement the recommendations identified in the report during the upcoming fiscal year. The Act clearly mandates that improvements be made following each review, so if there’s no money in the budget to make this happen, when will it be done? “
While the report has been available since December, Premier Higgs said yesterday that it could be June before we hear the government’s position on the report.
“I don’t think the Premier recognizes the significance of the Official Languages Act review, and honestly it seems like he is trying to push this down the road, so he doesn’t have to do it.” says Melanson. “The delay in responding to and implementing the recommendations of the report shows how little this government cares about language rights. They have already expressed their support for the report on second language learning which was mandated as part of the review even though the Act has nothing to do with education, the implementation of this second report would mean the end of early immersion, which risks significantly reducing the standard of what it means to be bilingual in New Brunswick, and it was released after the actual review of the Act. “
Earlier this week, the Official Opposition Leader released a statement urging the Higgs Government to support all the recommendations in the report.
“There are strong recommendations in the report that will advance language equality for both linguistic communities. When Government finally reacts to this report, we will be looking for all recommendations to be adopted and for a clear timeline for the implementation so that we can be assured they will be implemented in a timely manner.”