Archived - Service Canada on the right track, says Commissioner of Official Languages
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ottawa, December 7, 2010 – Service Canada has shown remarkable leadership and made significant efforts to provide bilingual training to all front-line personnel, according to the Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser, at the launch of the audit report on Service Canada’s bilingual service delivery.
“This is all the more encouraging because in Volume II of our Annual Report, released in November, we particularly emphasized the lack of rigour by federal institutions in implementing the active offer. I encourage Service Canada to use this momentum and develop similar strategies for implementing its official languages action plan,” he added.
The audit report, which includes seven recommendations, found that Service Canada needs to examine the number of designated bilingual positions and their associated linguistic profiles in all its designated offices to ensure it has appropriate bilingual capacity. Service Canada must also regularly consult official language communities in a systematic and organized fashion to determine what programs and services they need.
Service Canada, reporting to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada was created in 2005 to help Canadians access government programs and services faster and more easily.
“Throughout their lives, Canadians will experience a number of major events that will lead them to seek assistance or important information from the Government of Canada. Ten million Canadians visited Service Canada service points last year, which is why it is so important for this organization to fulfill its official languages obligations,” said Commissioner Graham Fraser.
The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages conducted the audit of Service Canada between April 2009 and April 2010. The audit team visited headquarters, three designated bilingual call centres and 19 service centres.
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The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada develop and implement an accountability framework for official languages in order to clearly define all of its obligations. He also recommends that this framework be communicated to all staff.
The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada include additional objectives in its national action plan in order to guarantee the effective and complete implementation of Part IV of the Official Languages Act and ensure the delivery of services of equal quality in English and French in all designated bilingual service centres and call centres. The plan should also include timelines, performance indicators and an accountability mechanism. The regional offices should, in turn, develop and implement operational plans for official languages that follow the national action plan while taking their regional concerns into account. These plans should be communicated to all personnel.
The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada develop an official languages policy that includes all the components of Part IV of the Official Languages Act. This policy should be effectively communicated to all staff. In addition, Service Canada should remind all employees of existing official language policies.
The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada:
- integrate objectives on all its bilingual service delivery obligations into its procedure for evaluating the performance of senior executives, managers, team leaders and front-line personnel responsible for serving the public in English and French at designated bilingual service points, and
- give mandatory training to senior executives and managers with staffing authority on all aspects of the linguistic designation of positions and language profiles required to meet job descriptions.
The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada review the number of designated bilingual citizen service officer and team leader positions in designated bilingual service points across Canada. He also recommends that Service Canada define the language profile required to perform the tasks in the job descriptions of employees who must serve the public in person, by telephone and via the Internet or the computer system.
The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada establish a structured and coordinated mechanism for regular consultation with national, provincial and regional representatives of official language minority communities in order to identify their specific needs with respect to the programs and services provided by the institution. An ongoing feedback process should be added to this consultation mechanism.
The Commissioner recommends that Service Canada institute a formal monitoring mechanism that can be applied accurately in all regions to periodically measure and report on the quality of services provided in both official languages, including wait times.