Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

September 13, 2005 08:00 ET

OCOL/Official Languages on the Internet: Significant Progress, Reports Dyane Adam

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 13, 2005) - The Commissioner of Official Languages, Dr. Dyane Adam, released today a study showing that even though there is still much work to be done to bridge the digital divide between the country's two official languages, the Government of Canada's efforts have resulted in significant progress.

This study, entitled Bridging the Digital Divide: Official Languages on the Internet, is a follow-up to two studies conducted in 2002 and contains three strategic targets: promoting the provision of French Internet tools and content, providing high-quality Internet content in both English and French, and encouraging the government to implement a robust governance framework.

The study emphasized that all departments responsible for government Internet sites must stay on track and respect the language rights of Canadians. "In the next few years, the Government of Canada will need to adopt new measures to support the creation of content in French," said Dr. Adam.

Even though the proportion of French language Internet content has increased in recent years and French is now in third position after English and German, it still accounts for only 5% of the total content. "The Internet is on the way to becoming a giant global library. Canada and other countries of the Francophonie must increase their efforts to ensure that the French language is well represented," added the Commissioner.

The study also draws attention to the major accomplishments of the Government On-Line initiative. Government Web sites are full of useful information in both official languages. The Government of Canada has also won awards for the quality of its sites. This year, for the fifth consecutive year, Canada placed first among 22 countries in the delivery of government services on the Web.

However, despite this success, examples such as the quality of the French language menu was very poor because automated translation was used-show that there is a lack of centralized coordination. The government must fulfil its obligations and ensure that Internet content is of equal quality in both official languages.

"The Government of Canada must be accountable for Internet issues. It needs to have a vision of the future and clearly defined benchmarks, which is why I recommend implementing a governance framework specific to this issue," said the Commissioner. This framework would identify a department that would be the key player in this issue, ensure that English and French are used equally on government Internet sites, and bridge the digital divide between French- and English-speaking Canadians.

Of the 28 recommendations in the two 2002 reports, almost half have been or are in the process of being implemented, and five have been partially implemented.

In addition to the five recommendations from the 2002 reports that have yet to be implemented, the Commissioner has added six more that are intended to increase the offer of bilingual content and technolinguistic tools and strengthen the governance framework regarding the use of French on the Internet. "Implementing these recommendations will enable the government to provide Canadians with access to high-quality Internet content in both official languages," concluded the Commissioner.

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