Archived - Canadian Forces still has work to do before its training system can be truly bilingual, says Graham Fraser

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Ottawa, June 2, 2010 — Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages, said today that “the Canadian Forces still has work to do before Francophone and Anglophone military personnel can say they have equal access to instruction in their own language.”

The Commissioner’s audit on the Individual Training and Education System showed that the Canadian Forces has still not been able to resolve certain issues, which prevents it from being fully compliant with the Official Languages Act. For example, there are still problems regarding the availability of instructors who can teach in French, the translation of educational material and access to second-language training.

The audit revealed that 83% of Canadian Forces training establishments lacked bilingual instructors, an issue that former Commissioner of Official Languages, D’Iberville Fortier, had raised in 1989. In most cases, bilingual instructors were Francophones, whereas Anglophone instructors taught only in English.

To address these issues, the Commissioner of Official Languages has made 20 recommendations to the Canadian Forces. Responding to these recommendations, Canadian Forces officials have submitted an action plan.

“I want to emphasize that the Canadian Forces are on the right track. They were extremely cooperative throughout the audit and we saw a real desire to find long-term solutions,” said Fraser. “The Canadian Forces’ annual rotation of military personnel in the coming months will mean that new members in command positions could be affected in certain training establishments. Regardless of these changes, I trust that leadership, commitment and the will to find solutions will continue to prevail within the Canadian Forces.”

Mr. Fraser pointed out that improved planning would guarantee high-quality translations and ensure that teaching materials were available to instructors in both languages at the same time. He also suggested that the Canadian Forces partner with the federal government’s Translation Bureau to carry out projects involving simultaneous production of teaching material in both official languages.

The audit began in June 2008 and data were collected between September 2008 and January 2009. The audit team visited 24 training establishments and met with more than 600 people, including 250 students.

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For more information or to schedule an interview with the Commissioner, please contact:

Robin Cantin
Manager, Media Relations
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368

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