Audit of Services to the Public at Highway Border Crossings of the Canada Border Services Agency - Follow-up
In its progress report, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) admits the implementation of the 12 recommendations presented a challenge, given that, in 2005, the Official Languages Division was virtually non-existent and rapid changes had to be made to the official languages program. The CBSA further states that the audit itself was instrumental in providing the foundation for its action plan and establishing measurable official languages objectives. The 2005 audit recommendations focused on the following:
- improving the management of the CBSA’s official languages program by establishing a policy, an action plan and adequate monitoring mechanisms;
- reviewing the level of bilingualism required of the CBSA’s border services officers;
- assessing and strengthening the CBSA’s bilingual capacity;
- putting in place the necessary measures to improve both the delivery and the active offer of bilingual services;
- integrating linguistic duality into the CBSA’s mission and values statement;
- holding regular discussions on the delivery of bilingual services during meetings;
- evaluating the performance of senior and middle managers with regard to official languages.
The analysis of the CBSA’s progress report by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) notes the following achievements:
An accountability framework that defines the roles and responsibilities of the various levels of management, employees and key enabling organizations in meeting the CBSA’s official languages obligations has been developed. In addition, policies have been put in place on communications with and services to the public and language of work, along with a directive on resolving official languages complaints. All these documents have been posted on the CBSA’s intranet and the availability of the material has been communicated by e-mail to all directors and coordinators at headquarters and in the regions.
- An official languages road map (action plan) covering the period 2005–2008 has been developed for all parts of the Official Languages Act as well as language training, education and awareness. The road map also deals with monitoring, policy development, tools and data requirements. The Executive Management Committee has adopted the plan and each committee member has accepted responsibility for the implementation of one or more items in the plan.
- The Official Languages Division is now well established and is based on four strong pillars: education and awareness, language training, monitoring and policy development. The roles of all stakeholders are clearly described in the CBSA’s accountability framework.
- Information and awareness sessions have been given to personnel at designated bilingual border crossings so that they have a clear, common understanding of their responsibilities related to providing service in both official languages.
Other tools, such as an annotated bilingual version of the Criminal Code of Canada, have been made available by the Windsor/St. Clair Region office to employees at each border crossing. The availability of the Code ensures better communication between border services officers and travellers in the event of arrest, detention or any other situation in which it is necessary to apply this legislation.
The regional office has also developed a training package that will be offered across the country in primary, secondary and commercial zones to help officers required to work in their second official language. “Parlez-vous français” sessions have been held across the country, allowing unilingual employees to better understand the importance of offering and providing service in both official languages and familiarize themselves with key phrases in their second language.
- A survey of all land borders has been completed and the CBSA is ready to implement bilingual service signage improvements at designated border sites. National signage standards have been developed to ensure conformity. Delivery of the signage was expected in the spring of 2008. A monitoring mechanism involving the Comptrollership Branch (Infrastructure and Environmental Operations Directorate) and the official languages coordinators will ensure the signage remains intact.
- A language training and retention directive has been developed by the Language Training section, and a training plan has been implemented for border services officers whose language profiles have been upgraded to BBB. A memorandum of understanding has been established with the Canada School of Public Service for in-house language training for employees at headquarters and in the Greater Toronto Area, Quebec, Atlantic and Pacific regions.
Some regions have acquired learning software so border services officers can learn on their own time, thereby reducing the possibility of shift work being an impediment to their training.
- Information and awareness sessions have been given across the country on active offer of service, and the Port of Entry Recruit Training (POERT) program for future border services officers now includes a module on official languages programs and, more specifically, the importance of active offer of bilingual service.
- The CBSA has completed an analysis of its bilingual capacity and has upgraded the linguistic profile of border services officers to BBB. A national recruitment campaign specifies that new border services officers must be bilingual at the BBB level. These actions have helped supervisors organize shifts and ensure that members of the public are served in the language of their choice. Managers have also reviewed their procedures regarding work schedules. Each bilingual employee is clearly identified.
- The delivery of bilingual services has been incorporated into the CBSA’s new service standards, and the concept of linguistic duality has been included in the mission and values statement that is articulated in the explanatory table of the Accountability Framework.
- The CBSA has established a system to review the performance of its managers. A performance agreement for executives and other senior level employees has been put in place. The agreement contains a number of official languages objectives managers must meet. The objectives are supported by secondary criteria. To measure the performance of superintendents and employees, the CBSA has developed a template that includes objectives related to the promotion of linguistic duality in Canada.
OCOL’s analysis of the CBSA’s progress report, however, indicates that certain recommendations have not been fully implemented. To complete the implementation of all the audit recommendations, the CBSA is currently focusing on the following initiatives:
- Developing orientation kits on the roles and responsibilities of employees and managers regarding official languages;
- Carrying out a review to determine the level of language proficiency required to perform the functions of border services officers and to determine the number of bilingual superintendents required for all designated bilingual border crossings. The CBSA’s Official Languages Division and regional coordinators are working with human resources to identify gaps and prepare an action plan.