Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada 2009-2010
2009-2010 Report Card
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Official Languages Program Management (10%)
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has two official languages action plans. The Official Languages Program Action Plan concerns parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act (the Act), while the 2007–2010 Results-based Action Plan concerns Part VII of the Act.
The Official Languages Program Action Plan was developed in November 2009 after an internal audit. It has three objectives:
The Results-based Action Plan (section 41 of the Act) concerns six priorities: awareness, consultation, communications, coordinating and liaising, program funding and delivery, and accountability.
These plans include targeted measures aimed at allowing the Department to meet its language obligations. DFAIT has developed three new internal official languages policies that have been sent to all staff. These policies are designed to improve the promotion of language rights and obligations and facilitate management of the Official Languages Program (language training and learning retention, language designation of positions, staffing of bilingual positions).
DFAIT has run awareness sessions for staff at all levels to make its policies better known. It has initiated one system for monitoring non-imperative appointments and another for monitoring performance in the area of official languages at missions abroad.
DFAIT should further its efforts by developing mechanisms to promote understanding of the other parts of the Act, including parts IV and VII.
Since the expiration of the Results-based Action Plan, DFAIT has not indicated that it will be updated or that a new plan will be developed. It would be beneficial for DFAIT to develop an official languages action plan with better-defined objectives to ensure respect of the language obligations pursuant to the Act.
During the period covered by this exercise, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has received satisfactory cooperation from those responsible for official languages at DFAIT regarding the resolution of identified language issues.
The Department uses the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Official Languages Checklist, a required tool when preparing Treasury Board submissions. However, DFAIT has not developed any tools or procedures for gauging the impact of its major decisions (adding, eliminating or changing policies or programs) on official language minority communities.
Nonetheless, DFAIT emphasizes the promotion of linguistic duality across the country and abroad. For example, the Department makes a financial contribution to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie to support that organization’s four-year program, a component of which promotes the French language and linguistic and cultural diversity.
Service to the Public – Part IV of the Official Languages Act (25%)
According to observations of service in person made by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages between January and April 2010, visual active offer was present in 97% of cases, active offer by staff was made in 56% of cases, and service in the language of the linguistic minority was available in 92% of cases.
According to observations of service on the telephone made by the Office of the Commissioner between January and April 2010, active offer by staff or by an automated system was made in 69% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was available in 80% of cases.
The results of the Office of the Commissioner’s observations regarding service by e-mail confirm that service in the official language of choice is available 100% of the time, and within comparable time periods 94% of the time.
In 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada, in DesRochers v. Canada (Industry) (the CALDECH case), rendered a decision stating that the consultation of official language minority communities in order to identify their needs is essential to providing services to the public in both official languages. The Court decreed that equal quality of services is attained when substantive equality is achieved. Substantive equality takes into account, where necessary, the differences in characteristics and circumstances of official language communities, and provides services with distinct content or by using a different method of delivery to ensure that the official language minority community receives services of the same quality as the majority language community.
As DFAIT is subject to Part IV of the Act, it must put in place measures that allow it to achieve substantive equality when providing services to the public. The Department would benefit from using the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Analytical Grid, developed to help institutions review their services and programs.
Language of Work – Part V of the Official Languages Act (30%)
The results of bilingual regions in the 2008 Public Service Employee Survey showed that 74% of Francophone respondents in the National Capital Region, New Brunswick and bilingual regions of Ontario “strongly agreed” or “mostly agreed” with the language of work regime.
Due to the small number of Anglophone respondents in the bilingual regions of Quebec, the survey results in this regard have been omitted.
All in all, the DFAIT results show that Francophone employees in regions designated bilingual for language-of-work purposes are satisfied. However, only 57% feel free to write in the language of their choice, while just 67% feel free to interact with their supervisors in their language of choice. It would be helpful to Francophone DFAIT employees if the Action Plan was amended to correct these weaknesses.
Participation of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians – Part VI of the Official Languages Act (10%)
The Francophone population outside Quebec and the National Capital Region (NCR) represents 4.2% of the total population.
In all of Canada, with the exception of Quebec and the NCR, the workforce is 5.1% Francophone.
The Francophone population of the NCR represents 34.9% of the total population.
In the NCR, the workforce is 36.1% Francophone.
The Anglophone population of Quebec represents 13.4% of the total population.
In Quebec, excluding the NCR, the workforce is 13% Anglophone.
(Source: Position and Classification Information System, March 2010)
Development of Official Language Minority Communities and Promotion of Linguistic Duality – Part VII of the Official Languages Act (25%)
The now-expired 2007–2010 Results-based Action Plan covered six priorities: awareness, consultation, communications, coordinating and liaising, program funding and delivery, and accountability. It would be useful for DFAIT to develop a multi-year action plan for the coming years. The new plan should include a section setting out deadlines and the implementation status for each initiative.
During the period covered by this report card, DFAIT developed and implemented initiatives to promote Canada’s two official languages.
Information sessions were developed and delivered to DFAIT employees to increase their knowledge of Part VII of the Official Languages Act. One goal of these sessions was to develop a Part VII reflex so that the needs of official language communities would be taken into account when planning departmental activities.
However, DFAIT did not seize the occasion to identify official language communities, consult them and identify their needs. This necessary step should be undertaken so that the needs of these communities can be included in the management of the Department’s official languages program.
DFAIT continues its efforts to promote and cooperate with the Francophonie. It celebrates the Journée internationale de la Francophonie within the Department, in Canada and abroad. For example, Francophonie celebrations are held around the world in March of each year, and the Department was an active participant in the activities presented at Expo 2010 in China (March 5–27).
The cultural sector grant program known as Promart ended on March 31, 2009 and was not replaced. The program’s elimination was investigated by the Office of the Commissioner. DFAIT did not assess the elimination’s possible impact on official language communities before proceeding. However, we learned that there is a financial assistance program (Global Opportunities for Associations) for national associations that work to develop international cultural industry markets. The Department has not demonstrated that this program has remedied the problems observed since the elimination of Promart.