Legislation and government services

 

Federal Government


Federal departments and agencies offer services to the public in both languages at several offices in both big and small areas. The establishment of Service Canada and the centralization of points of service to the public have significantly increased the ability of federal institutions to offer the majority of their services in both official languages in Saskatchewan. According to the Public Service Agency, 4 percent of the 4,503 federal government positions in Saskatchewan are designated bilingual. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has a regional office in Saskatchewan. Several federal departments contribute to the development of the Fransaskois community by supporting key community projects or by offering programs that allow community initiatives to develop.

Provincial Government


Even though in principle, the French language was for a long time an official language of the Province of Saskatchewan, the reality is that successive governments never recognized this fact. The Language Act of 1988 was the first provincial act to define the place of French in Saskatchewan. The Act stated that all new laws could be adopted in English only or in English and French, and recognized the right of individuals to use French before the courts and in the Legislative Assembly. The Government of Saskatchewan and the federal government have established framework agreements on education, the administration of justice and the provision of French-language services.

The Francophone Affairs Branch (FAB) was established in 1989 and serves as a liaison between the provincial government and the province's French-speaking population. The FAB provides support to all provincial government ministries and agencies that are looking to offer and improve French-language services. The FAB is also responsible for guiding and monitoring the implementation of the Government of Saskatchewan French-language Services Policy, which was adopted in 2004.

Municipalities


There is currently no legislation requiring municipalities to offer French-language services in Saskatchewan. However, many Francophone organizations seek to work with municipalities in areas of common interest, like cultural and economic development, tourism, promotion, etc.

Legal services


It is possible to obtain a trial in French in Saskatchewan. To facilitate access to the courts in French, Saskatchewan's Francophone jurists came together to create the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Saskatchewan (l'AJEFS). Among the association's members are judges, lawyers and French-speaking employees of the judicial system. The AJEFS plays an important role in raising awareness and offers judicial and legal information aimed at the public at large.

In many ways, the judicial system has played a key role for Francophones as it has allowed them to gain recognition of their most fundamental rights, including their right to governance of their own schools. It is also through the courts that Francophones were able to promote the legitimacy of French in Saskatchewan. A number of famous cases served as a springboard for the Fransaskois community, allowing it to assert its presence and advocate for services.

The Caron case, which is still before the courts in Alberta in 2009, is the most recent example of the role played by the judicial system in the recognition of the rights of Francophones in Western Canada. Based on historical proof, the Caron case seeks to demonstrate that the French language is protected by the constitution and has an official status in Alberta and Saskatchewan.