Language requirements of positions

Positions in the federal public service may have different language requirements:

  • English Essential
  • French Essential
  • English or French Essential (incumbent’s choice)
  • Bilingual

The Official Languages Act requires federal institutions to establish the language requirements of positions objectively during a staffing action.

In doing so, they must consider the duties and responsibilities of each position and take into account the obligation to provide services to the public in both official languages .

Supervisory or management positions

Positions that have supervisory or management functions must be identified as Bilingual in order to respect the language-of-work rights of employees.

These positions may include the following:

  • Management positions (directors general, directors, managers and supervisors)
  • Executives (deputy ministers and senior executives of agencies, boards and commissions)
  • Heads of Mission
  • Chairpersons and members of federal tribunals

Note: If they are not already bilingual at the time of their appointment to federal institutions, deputy ministers, associate deputy ministers and incumbents of positions of equivalent level are required to take language training to ensure that they are able to speak and understand both official languages clearly.

Language proficiency levels for bilingual positions

The second official language proficiency levels required of incumbents of Bilingual positions are defined in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

There are three levels of proficiency:

  • A (low)
  • B (intermediate)
  • C (high)

In order for an institution to determine whether a candidate has the required proficiency levels, the candidate must undergo a second language evaluation, in which three language skills are assessed:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Oral proficiency

A position with “CBC” second official language proficiency levels requires the following levels of proficiency in the incumbent’s second official language:

  • High level of reading comprehension (C)
  • Intermediate level of written expression (B)
  • High level of oral proficiency (C)