Target 2017: Graham Fraser calls for leadership to ensure equality of English and French in celebrations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gatineau, October 7, 2014 – Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser is urging federal institutions to ensure that official languages are fully represented in the federal celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
In the national events leading up to 2017, English and French need to be seen and heard on equal footing. It’s a time to celebrate our Canadian history and remember that our common thread is the relationship between English-speakers and French-speakers,” said Mr. Fraser. “
The time to plan is now.”
Preparing for 2017 is the object of one of two recommendations included in his 2013–2014 annual report to Parliament. In the report Mr. Fraser also offers a close look at his activities aimed at helping protect language rights, including complaint investigations, audits, institutional ‘report cards’ and court interventions.
Mr. Fraser says common problems among federal institutions are inadequate planning and lack of consideration for official language minority communities.
In his analysis of the complaints he received related to the Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the Commissioner found that organizations still make decisions without considering the impact on official languages communities or on service delivery in both official languages.
Success is no accident,” said Mr. Fraser. “
It’s entirely possible for federal institutions to meet budget requirements while respecting the Official Languages Act. To be successful, institutions need to plan carefully, consult official languages communities that may be affected, and monitor progress on an ongoing basis. Failures arise when institutions neglect planning. And planning requires leadership.”
The annual report also includes several concrete examples of how complaints filed by Canadians led to positive outcomes for all Canadians.
“When I receive a complaint and investigate it, it’s an opportunity for a federal institution to turn a situation around and make a lasting change,” said Mr. Fraser.
As in previous years, Mr. Fraser also found that institutions are struggling with greeting Canadians in both official languages in person. He therefore included a second recommendation in his report that also speaks to the importance of fully valuing Canada’s two official languages.
He calls on the Canada School of Public Service and the Treasury Board Secretariat to examine and improve training on official languages for managers, new recruits and human resources professionals in the federal public service.
To make real progress in serving Canadians and in respecting federal employees’ rights, we need training for public servants to have a stronger emphasis on the importance of official languages,” said Mr. Fraser.