French Language Services Act applauded on P.E.I.

Members of P.E.I.'s francophone community are cheering the province's new French Language Services Act.

20 government departments and agencies covered by act

Members of P.E.I.'s francophone community are cheering the province's new French Language Services Act.

As of Dec. 14, the government is required to provide more services in both official languages.

“I think it's an historic event for the Acadian and Francophone community,” said Gabriel Arsenault, president of the francophone St. Thomas Aquinas Society. 

He said years of working towards expanded bilingual services have paid off.

“When they ask for service on the front lines they'll feel comfortable and they'll feel welcome,” he said.

The act requires many government departments and agencies provide full bilingual services. Over time 20 departments and agencies will come under the regulations. Among them are the 511 traveller information service and highway traffic signs.

It also means the approximately 5,000 francophone speakers on the Island can write to the government and receive responses in French.

"It's built to meet the needs of the community based on priorities of the community and also considering the capacity that the government has to offer services,” said Diane Arsenault, the province's director of Acadian and Francophone affairs.

But Gabriel Arsenault said there's always room for improvement.

"It doesn't mean that the whole house is finished. I think we have a good foundation,” he said.

The province has also appointed a complaints commissioner in case francophone services aren't properly delivered.

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