Government legislation and services

Federal government


All federal laws and regulations must be available in both official languages. The public has the right to communicate and receive services in French in offices that are designated bilingual. According to data from the Public Service Agency, 3.3 percent of the 16,061 federal public service positions in British Columbia are designated bilingual.

Provincial government


There is currently no obligation for the Government of British Columbia to offer French-language services. However, a government office is responsible for Francophone Affairs, following a framework agreement signed with the federal government in 2001 to promote official languages and strengthen the Francophone community. The same year, the Premier appointed an MLA responsible for Francophone Affairs. Since then, the framework agreement has been renewed and partnerships have been made possible in several fields including health, social affairs, justice, child care and tourism.

Municipalities


With the exception of the city of Coquitlam, no municipal services are offered in French. However, municipalities are cooperating more and more with Francophone associations.

Legal services


In the field of criminal law, Francophones in the province have the right under the provisions of the Criminal Code to undergo a trial and a preliminary hearing in French.

Trials before judge and jury take place at the New Westminster Courthouse, and all defendants from all regions who request this type of trial must travel to this location. The availability of a jury able to speak French is a precondition for these trials.

In civil matters, an individual may choose the language and procedures if the trial takes place before a federal tribunal. Before a provincial tribunal, however, services are offered in English only.

A list of French-speaking people working in the legal and judicial sector is available on the website of the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Colombie-Britannique. This association established in 2000 promotes French in the field of justice and supports the professional development of French-speaking jurists.