Summary – Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Audit Follow-up
What we examined
In 2017, the Interim Commissioner of Official Languages published an audit report containing 15 recommendations for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) with respect to its obligations under the Official Languages Act (the Act). The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages followed up on these recommendations to assess the measures taken by CATSA to implement them.
Why this is important
Audit follow-ups are as important as the audits themselves. Follow-ups are used to assess the extent to which an audited institution has made the changes recommended in the audit reports, or to confirm that the institution is committed to making the changes.
What we found
The audit follow-up showed that CATSA has taken a number of initiatives in response to the audit to meet its official languages obligations and improve official languages culture among its service providers and screening officers. Although CATSA is committed to official languages and proud of the progress it has made, it is still at the beginning of its journey toward compliance and must continue its efforts by taking specific measures to address the systemic issues that persist. These efforts will help CATSA ensure that it provides the travelling public with quality services in both official languages at all times during security screening, which will then bring it into full compliance with the requirements of the Official Languages Act.
Conclusion – Steps in the right direction, but more work needed to address ongoing issues and comply with the Official Languages Act
Generally speaking, CATSA’s insufficient bilingual capacity continues to be a systemic issue with respect to its official languages obligations and has direct and indirect impacts on other factors examined during the audit follow-up. Moreover, the current standard of one bilingual officer for every two open screening lines does not ensure that service is always available in the official language of the linguistic minority whenever needed. CATSA therefore needs to continue to think about how best to strategically allocate the limited number of screening officers it has. Recruitment and training efforts are promising in terms of increasing the institution’s capacity to provide service of equal quality in both official languages, but positive results have yet to be seen on the ground.
Overall, although CATSA has taken measures to meet the commitments it made in response to the audit report, not all of the issues raised in the audit have been resolved. The Commissioner of Official Languages (the Commissioner) encourages CATSA to step up its efforts to ensure that it provides members of the travelling public with the best possible experience while ensuring that they receive professional, effective and consistent security screening services in their preferred official language.
The Commissioner would like to acknowledge CATSA’s cooperation throughout the audit follow-up, as well as its commitment to improving official languages culture among its service providers and screening officers. However, as shown in the follow-up, this commitment has not yet yielded consistent results across the country. Because of the ongoing issues mentioned above, among others, travellers are not guaranteed to receive service in their preferred official language at all times.
Bilingual capacity of screening officers: Recruitment, assessment and training
- Through its service providers, CATSA has created permanent job postings for bilingual positions and set up referral programs to support the recruitment of bilingual candidates. It continues to promote bilingual jobs through social media and has established partnerships with Francophone employment services organizations. Service providers have reportedly observed an increase in the number of bilingual candidates.
- With respect to the way in which the language proficiency of bilingual screening officers is assessed, CATSA stated that current and potential screening officers must undergo assessments on certain second-language oral skills—accuracy, clarity, effectiveness and confidence—before they can be identified as bilingual. The information provided during the follow-up clearly demonstrated that candidates are required to take language tests.
- It would be to CATSA’s advantage to share well-defined best practices for assessing the language proficiency levels of current and potential screening officers so as to ensure a certain standard of quality for screening officers’ second language skills.
- Through its service providers, CATSA has adapted some of its third-party official languages training materials to the screening environment by including specific scenarios. However, training materials still vary among service providers.
Assessment of actual service demand and standard
- CATSA conducted a survey to assess the demand for services in the official language of the linguistic minority at ClassFootnote 1 airports. However, it also decided that it was not necessary to review the current standard of one bilingual officer on duty for every two open screening lines. An analysis of the methodology CATSA used to assess the demand for services in the official language of the linguistic minority found that there are still ongoing issues and that improvements are required, including the way in which travellers’ preferred language is measured.
- The Commissioner is still of the opinion that the current standard is not sufficient and does not ensure that equal service is always provided in both official languages whenever needed.
Standard operating procedure
- Instead of amending its procedure, CATSA issued a directive that clearly states that travellers must receive service in the official language of their choice throughout the security screening process.
- The Commissioner has noted that under the current standard operating procedure, travellers who request service in the official language of the linguistic minority may not receive service in the official language of their choice or may have to wait for service.
Service Excellence Program and Contract Compliance Program
- CATSA uses its Service Excellence Program to assess the capacity of its service providers to make an active offer. It also conducts passenger satisfaction surveys help measure the availability of service in both official languages. However, it was not possible to determine whether the client satisfaction index calculated as part of the Service Excellence Program is a valid measure of quality of service in both official languages.
- CATSA did not review the official languages standards in the Contract Compliance Program, nor did it examine the consequences of non-compliance with these standards in order to make them consistent across all regions.
- The Commissioner continues to be concerned about CATSA’s position not to ensure consistent consequences for non-compliance with official languages standards and encourages CATSA to review its position based on the feedback provided during the audit and the follow-up exercise.
Collaboration with official language minority communities
- In fiscal year 2018–2019, CATSA identified and consulted with eight groups representing official language minority communities. The consultation process is not yet permanent, but CATSA is developing a community awareness plan to support this process.
- On their own initiative, service providers also consulted with other Francophone community associations to see how they could work together to recruit bilingual candidates.