Section 22 – Rights and privileges preserved


Rights and Privileges Preserved

22. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates or derogates from any legal or customary right or privilege acquired or enjoyed either before or after the coming into force of this Charter with respect to any language that is not English or French.

Similar Provision

See section 83 of the Official Languages Act, to the same effect.


The purpose of section 22 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) is to guarantee that the rights in respect of the use of English and French that are set out in the Charter do not abrogate or derogate from any right to use other languages that might be granted by other Acts or by custom.


It might be possible to argue, based on section 22 of the Charter, that other languages should be protected at some future time. However, until a legal or customary right or privilege is recognized, and having regard to sections 15 and 16 to 23 of the Charter, the courts cannot, at this point, confer equality on any languages other than the two official languages of Canada. (Reference re an Act to Amend the Education Act at p. 567)

At section 6 of the Indigenous Languages Act, S.C. 2019, c. 23, the Government of Canada recognizes that the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 include rights related to Indigenous languages. The Indigenous Languages Act is an example of a law that relates to languages other than English or French within the meaning of s. 22 of the Charter.

Table of Cases

Reference re an Act to Amend the Education Act (1986), 53 O.R. (2d) 513 – appeal dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada on June 25, 1987 [“Reference re an Act to Amend the Education Act”].

Girouard v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 FC 1282 at para. 216.

Court decisions rendered since the last update: