Archived - Air Canada to improve bilingual service, following the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages’ audit

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Ottawa, September 19, 2011 – Canadians need a greater commitment from senior management at Air Canada in order to receive a better level of service from the airline in the official language of their choice, an audit released today by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has found.

The first full audit of Air Canada by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages was undertaken to evaluate the services provided in both official languages on board flights on designated bilingual routes, at airports where the national carrier has language obligations and in call centres. The audit includes 12 recommendations to help Air Canada improve its service delivery to passengers in both official languages.

“This audit highlights some positive observations and reveals some situations that require improvement to ensure that Air Canada complies fully with the Official Languages Act,” said Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser. “The corrective measures we propose can be applied fairly easily – in fact, Air Canada has integrated most of them into its new action plan and is committed to implementing them.”

The audit notes that Air Canada currently has a structure to manage the various obligations it must meet under the Official Languages Act and has appointed an official languages champion. It also has a number of means at its disposal for communicating language requirements to personnel. Unfortunately, the results of the audit show significant shortcomings in the knowledge Air Canada managers and agents have of their organization’s obligations with respect to the active offer and delivery of bilingual services.

“During this audit, Air Canada’s senior management and employee union officials committed their full support to help the airline to meet its official language obligations,” said Mr. Fraser. “There is recognition that change is required in Air Canada’s organizational culture and leadership, and that it must begin at the top level and filter down through all levels, leading to concrete improvements for the travelling public.”

The backgrounder lists key recommendations by the Commissioner and responses from Air Canada.

The complete audit is available on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages’ website.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Nelson Kalil
Manager, Media Relations
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Telephone: 613-995-0374
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368

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