The cornerstone of Canada's bilingualism policy, the Official Languages Act was adopted in July 1969, enshrining the equal status, rights, and privileges of English and French as languages of Parliament and the Government of Canada. A few months later, the federal government made a commitment to provide partial funding for minority-language education and second-language instruction across the country.
Additional funding was dedicated, over the next few years, to the implementation of new programs to encourage individuals to learn both official languages. CMEC has been responsible for the coordination and administration of these activities at the pan-Canadian level and the negotiation of protocols related to official languages in education programs:
- Language Learning and Exchange Programs: To promote the study of Canada's official languages, CMEC, in cooperation with the provinces and territories, administers programs that provide language assistants to work with second language learners and teachers and to support students to study English or French in a region of Canada outside their home.
- The Protocol for Agreements for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction: Since 1983, the federal government's contributions to the costs incurred by provinces and territories in the delivery of minority-language education and second-language instruction have been provided in accordance with the Protocol for Agreements for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction. It is through CMEC that the protocol is negotiated. In turn, each province and territory negotiates with the federal government, according to the parameters of the protocol, a separate cost-shared bilateral agreement, including a multi-year action plan.
- French Language Education in Minority Settings: In response to tests that showed that students studying in French-language schools in minority settings were not performing as well as their English-language counterparts, the Pan-Canadian French as a First Language Project was launched by CMEC. Phases I and II of the project have resulted in a detailed analysis of the context and performance of minority-language students and the preparation of tools to assist teachers in francophone minority language settings.