Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 156, Number 1
SI/2022-1 January 5, 2022
AN ACT TO AMEND THE DIVORCE ACT, THE FAMILY ORDERS AND AGREEMENTS ENFORCEMENT ASSISTANCE ACT AND THE GARNISHMENT, ATTACHMENT AND PENSION DIVERSION ACT AND TO MAKE CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS TO ANOTHER ACT
P.C. 2021-1031 December 17, 2021
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, pursuant to subsection 126(3.1) of An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, chapter 16 of the Statutes of Canada, 2019, fixes February 1, 2022 as the day on which section 22.1 of that Act comes into force in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
(This note is not part of the Order.)
Order Fixing February 1, 2022 as the Day on Which Section 22.1 of An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act Comes into Force in Ontario and Saskatchewan
Pursuant to subsection 126 (3.1) of An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, the Order fixes February 1, 2022, as the day on which section 22.1 of that Act (language rights provision) comes into force in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
The objective of the Order in Council is to fix a specific date for the coming into force of the language rights provision under the amended Divorce Act in Ontario and Saskatchewan. The provision aims at making Canada’s family justice system more accessible in either official language, including for official languages minority communities (OLMCs).
Former Bill C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act, which received royal assent on June 21, 2019, strengthens and modernizes Canada’s family justice system, promotes access to justice and makes federal family laws more responsive to Canadian families’ needs.
Among the many amendments brought by former Bill C-78, there is a newly created language rights provision. It provides that proceedings conducted pursuant to the Divorce Act may be in French or English, or both. This includes the right to file pleadings or other documents, give evidence and make submissions in either official language. Parties also have the right to the following: simultaneous interpretation into the other official language upon request; a presiding judge who speaks the same official language or both languages; and to a transcript or recording of what was said in the official language in which it was said. The court would also be required, upon request, to make available any judgment or order rendered in a party’s own official language. Finally, the provision provides that court forms must be made available in both English and French.
Former Bill C-78 provides provinces and territories with the flexibility needed to implement the new provision at different times, in light of their readiness to implement the language rights provision. The language rights provision is in force in Manitoba, Yukon and Nunavut as of March 1, 2021. Ontario and Saskatchewan have expressed their readiness to implement the new provision on February 1, 2022. Accordingly, the provision will be brought into force in the jurisdictions of Ontario and Saskatchewan on February 1, 2022, through this Order.
The majority of the remaining provinces and territories have expressed their government’s intention to implement the language rights provision within the next few years.
This Order makes it clear when the language rights provision of the amended Divorce Act comes into force in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Canadians living in OLMCs are a vibrant population and continue to grow. According to the 2016 Census, more than one million Francophones live outside Quebec and over 1.1 million Anglophones live in Quebec.
Considering the country’s linguistic landscape, many separating or divorcing Canadians have difficulty resolving their legal issues in the official language that is not the language commonly used in their local jurisdiction. Like other Canadians, they need access to the courts in the official language of their choice.
Implementation of the language rights provision in Ontario and Saskatchewan will ensure that Canadians from those OLMCs, amongst others, have a better access to family justice in the official language of their choice. It will also increase the capacity of the courts to proceed in either official language.
Consultations with the provinces and territories occurred through the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials — Family Justice (CCSO-FJ) following the introduction of the language rights provision in the Divorce Act. Consultations also took place with organizations representing OLMCs, which had been advocating for those rights and responded very favourably to their inclusion in Bill C-78. For example, in a press release dated June 29, 2019 (available in French only), the Fédération des associations de juristes d’expression française de common law applauded Bill C-78 and called the new rights “historic and significant.” The Minister of Justice hears regularly from Canadians on family law-related matters.
Family Law and Youth Justice Policy Section