Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2009-2010
2009-2010 Report Card
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Official Languages Program Management (10%)
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has developed an official languages action plan for 2008–2011 that features two components. The first component, People, addresses DFO’s obligations under parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act (the Act). The activities in this component are organized within three strategic priorities: leadership, institutional capacity and personal capacity. The second, Citizen-Focused Service, addresses the Department’s obligations under Part VII of the Act and is divided into six main areas of action: awareness, consultation, communications, coordination and liaison, program funding and delivery, and accountability.
The action plan was approved by DFO’s Departmental Management Committee in 2008, and includes an accountability framework that outlines the roles and responsibilities of all involved. Both documents are available to employees through the Department’s intranet site. Some action plan items are described as ongoing, while others are time-specific. Progress is monitored throughout the year during monthly meetings between national and regional official language coordinators. The action plan is also monitored during DFO’S annual Health of HR exercise to report on elements of concern from a human resources perspective. In DFO and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Deputy Minister, ADM and Director General responsible for HR and Policy are directly involved in the full implementation of the plan. Department-wide activities that require the intervention of senior management are tabled before the Departmental Management Committee for discussion.
DFO’s action plan incorporates measures to address the shortcomings identified both in the last report card from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and in recent investigations. For example, DFO’s 2007-2008 report card indicated a need for greater efforts regarding the active offer and provision of services in both official languages. DFO has since followed up with the managers of all offices observed in the last Office of the Commissioner exercise to ensure that corrective measures have been taken. Offices listed in Burolis were reviewed to ensure the availability of service in both official languages. Internal spot-checks were conducted at various DFO offices in November and December 2009, with immediate feedback provided to individuals to enhance the impact of these spot-checks.
DFO has also developed an active offer toolkit for all employees required to provide service in both official languages. The kit includes key phrases for greeting the public in both official languages, explanatory notes on DFO’s official languages obligations, and active offer stickers.
Another area in need of attention identified by the investigation process was the appropriate designation of bilingual positions. DFO has addressed this matter by implementing a new procedure that obliges managers to use the Treasury Board’s tool to determine the linguistic profile of all new or modified bilingual positions. Managers are also required to submit their reports to the Human Resources department for review.
DFO is committed to working with the Office of the Commissioner to resolve complaints, and cooperates fully with the Office of the Commissioner’s employees in this regard.
Service to the Public – Part IV of the Official Languages Act (25%)
According to observations of in-person service made by Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages between January and April 2010, an active visual offer was present in 96% of cases, an active offer by staff was made in 61% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was available in 86% of cases.
According to observations of service on the telephone made by Office of the Commissioner between January and April 2010, an active offer by staff or by an automated system was made in 88% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was available in 78% of cases.
The results of the observations regarding service by e-mail made by the Office of the Commissioner confirm that service in the official language of choice is available 75% of the time, and within comparable time periods 38% 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.
DFO has established a mechanism to determine the impact of major decisions on services to the public that affect official language minority communities. The Department has incorporated this activity into its Official Languages Action Plan and has installed a permanent mechanism for assessing how decisions related to program changes affect official language communities. The National Official Languages Coordinator is responsible for reviewing all memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board submissions to assess the potential impact on official language communities of any changes or additions to their programs that are pending approval. Thirteen analysis documents pertaining to section 41 were produced in the course of drafting memoranda to Cabinet.
As DFO 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. DFO 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, overall, 77% 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.
Given the limited number of Anglophone respondents in the bilingual regions of Quebec, the results have been omitted.
DFO has developed an action plan in response to the Public Service Employee Survey results. An official languages clause has been added to this plan, indicating that respect for both official languages is a question of leadership and that actions regarding language of work have been addressed in DFO’s official languages action plan.
The Department’s 2008–2011 Official Languages Action Plan shows that language of work issues have been given consideration. The DFO holds its Departmental Management Committee and national-level meetings entirely in English or entirely in French on an alternate basis. Documents for all national meetings are distributed in both official languages, and employees located in bilingual regions are informed that they can participate in meetings in the language of their choice via the intranet. They are also reminded of their rights and encouraged to use their language of choice at the beginning of each meeting.
Overall, the survey results show that Francophone employees in regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes are satisfied. It should be noted, however, that only 67% of those employees feel that they can use their official language of choice when using e-mail and preparing written material, while only 71% feel free to use the language of their choice with their immediate supervisor. Having a specific action plan to address the survey results would likely benefit DFO’s Francophone employees in regions designated as bilingual.
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 7% Francophone.
The Francophone population of the NCR represents 34.9% of the total population.
In the NCR, the workforce is 35.9% Francophone.
The Anglophone population of Quebec represents 13.4% of the total population.
In Quebec, excluding the NCR, the workforce is 2.6% Anglophone.
(Source: Position and Classification Information System – March 2010)
It should be noted that the DFO’s Quebec offices are located in regions designated as unilingual for language-of-work purposes.
Development of Official Language Minority Communities and Promotion of Linguistic Duality – Part VII of the Official Languages Act (25%)
DFO’s accountability framework includes Part VII of the Official Languages Act and defines the ensuing roles and responsibilities. The Citizen-Focused Service component of DFO’s Official Languages Action Plan addresses Part VII of the Act and is organized under six main areas of action: awareness, consultation, communications, coordination and liaison, program funding and delivery, and accountability. The Action Plan is reviewed yearly, while an activity report detailing actions taken and progress achieved is produced every fiscal year.
DFO continues to review its memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board submissions. In its last report card, the Department was asked to raise awareness among key personnel responsible for aligning the development, renewal or devolution of policies, programs and services with Part VII of the Act. In response, it has notably posted a guide for drafting Cabinet documents on its policies Web site. This guide includes key questions for decision-making and other pertinent fact-sheets. The national Part VII Coordinator participates in the annual training sessions for employees responsible for preparing memoranda to Cabinet, providing them with information regarding DFO’s Part VII obligations. The coordinator also participates in monthly group meetings concerning Cabinet documents under development. As a result, 46% of the memoranda to Cabinet drafted by DFO last year generated recommendations for mitigating the potential negative impacts and demonstrating the potential positive impacts on the vitality of official language minority communities and the promotion of linguistic duality.
Informal consultation mechanisms have been implemented to help identify official language community needs and mandates. With the exception of the Pacific region (unstaffed Part VII coordinator position), all DFO regions have established informal consultation mechanisms aimed at better understanding the concerns and needs of official language communities, particularly those dependant on fisheries recourse. For example, management at the Maritime regional office regularly meet with the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Ecosse, while the Regional Director General for the Quebec region meets with official language community representatives on an annual basis. In the Maritimes’ Sydney office, DFO met with Francophone representatives regarding the relocation of the St. Peter’s office. No concerns were raised at that meeting, but the official language community was pleased to have been consulted and to know that an office would still be maintained in a different part of the county.
In Alberta, DFO and other federal departments participated in a workshop organised by the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta to identify areas where federal departments could assist official language community needs.
DFO has taken steps to help official language communities achieve their development objectives by participating in five round-table meetings of the National Committee for Economic Development and Employability (NCEDE) for official language communities, held by the Human Rresources Services Directorate. Similarly, it participated in the review of agreement protocols between federal institutions and NCEDE representatives from the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité and the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC). The Quebec region also handled transportation costs to enable fishermen’s association representatives from Anglophone minority communities to attend various fishing resources management consultation committees. Decisions taken by these committees could affect the economies of official language communities who depend on fishing resources.
DFO’s national Part VII coordinators (national and regional) continue to maintain solid working relationships with other federal Part VII coordinators to discuss issues and share information and best practices.
DFO’s continued funding of and participation in projects demonstrates its commitment to promoting the use of English and French both internally and in Canada. In the context of the 475th anniversary of Gaspé and to honour the contribution of the region’s Anglophone minority community to the history of the Maritimes, DFO, in partnership with the Committee for Anglophone Social Action and the CEDEC, acknowledged William Wakeham as a historical figure. One of the project’s highlights was the creation of an audio guide on Mr. Wakeham and the region’s commercial fishery development.
DFO participated in the 2009 World Acadian Congress by mounting an information booth and producing a bilingual historical information document on lighthouses and docks. In the context of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary and linguistic duality, DFO developed a commemorative map on the voyages and explorations of Samuel de Champlain. A replica of the period ship Surveyor used by the British Admiralty was also docked at the Old Port of Québec during the festivities.
On January 20, 2010, DFO held its Official Languages Day in the NCR. The event gave employees a chance to discover new language tools like the Translation Bureau’s Termium program, virtual learning facilities and legislative and departmental policies, as well as chat with personnel from various federal departments. A French bistro and English tea house were set up so that employees could sit and chat in the official language of their choice. DFO continues to use its intranet site to provide official languages information to employees on a regular basis.
It is clear that DFO has taken steps to integrate official language community development and the promotion of both official languages into its action plan. DFO would benefit from assessing the impact of its actions and positive measures on official language communities.