Summer and Fall 2013 Observation Results

During the summer and fall of 2013, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages conducted anonymous observations of service to the public in both official languages at nine federal institutions. The observations focused on Part IV of the Official Languages Act and, more specifically, on active offer and availability of service to the public in English and French in person, by telephone and by e-mail. The nine institutions observed were the Canada Post Corporation, the Canada Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, Passport Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Service Canada and VIA Rail Canada.

Of those nine institutions, four were chosen to be part of the 2013–2014 report card exercise because of their regular and frequent contact with the public. The four institutions are the Canada Post Corporation, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and VIA Rail Canada, and their results are published in the 2013–2014 annual report.

The observation results of the other five institutions observed during the summer of 2013—Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, Passport Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada and Service Canada—are published here to provide a better understanding of the overall situation regarding the provision of service to the public in both official languages.

The observations in person assessed active offer in English and French both visually (bilingual posters, pictograms and publications) and in person (bilingual greeting such as “Hello, bonjour”) and the availability of service in the official language of the linguistic minority.

The observations by telephone assessed the active offer provided by an automated system or an employee (“Hello, bonjour”) and the availability of service in the official language of the linguistic minority.

The observations by e-mail assessed the availability of service in both official languages. The number of replies in one language was compared with the number of replies in the other language for the same number of requests. Also observed were the average response times for e-mails sent in English and in French, in order to determine whether the response time is similar.

Results Analysis

Most of the five institutions performed well in terms of visual active offer (four out of five institutions earned a score equal to or higher than 95% for this criterion during the in-person observations). There is room for improvement, however, in terms of in-person active offer to the public and availability of service in both official languages.

For all institutions observed, scores for in-person active offer to the public were consistently lower than those for availability of service. In fact, three out of five institutions obtained a score equal to or lower than 50% for this criterion. Scores for active offer by telephone were significantly higher than those for active offer in person for all institutions observed. Institutions need to pay special attention to ensure that the public is aware that service is available in the official language of the linguistic minority. This means that an active offer of service must be made in English and French at all times.

Results for e-mail observations revealed that service was equally available for both linguistic groups at the two institutions observed, Parks Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada. Response time results showed that the average response times for e-mails sent in French tended to be longer than the average response times for e-mails sent in English. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Passport Canada and Service Canada were not observed by e-mail because they could not be contacted without a client number or a file number.

Looking at each institution’s global performance, Citizenship and Immigration Canada had the best overall performance. Taking into account all three types of observations (in person, by telephone and by e-mail, for which Citizenship and Immigration Canada was not observed), Parks Canada had the best overall performance.

Results of Summer and Fall 2013 Observations of Service to the Public
  In person By telephone By e–mail
Visual Active Offer
(%)
Active Offer
(%)
Availability of Service
(%)
Active Offer
(%)
Availability of Service
(%)
Availability of ServiceFootnote 1
(%)
Response TimeFootnote 2
(%)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada 100 71 95 100 100 Not evaluated Not evaluated
Service Canada 97 50 84 88 97 Not evaluated Not evaluated
Passport Canada 95 49 90 100 100 Not evaluated Not evaluated
Parks Canada Agency 96 62 90 94 92 100 92
Public Works and Government Service Canada 89 48 87 96 100 100 88

Table notes

Table note 1

Availability of service by e-mail indicates the difference between the response rates for English e-mails and the response rates for French e-mails. The smaller the difference is between response rates, the higher the score.

Return to table note 1 referrer

Table note 2

E-mail response time indicates the difference between the average response times for English and French e-mails. The smaller the difference is between the average response times, the higher the score.

Return to table note 2 referrer

For more information on how institutions were evaluated, please see the rating guide.

Date modified:
2018-09-13