ARCHIVED - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 2007-2008

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 Report Card 2007–2008
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Factors and Criteria

Summary of Substantiating Data


Management (15%)

(a) An accountability framework, an action plan and accountability mechanisms are in place (5%)

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has developed an official languages (OL) accountability framework that describes the roles and responsibilities of the OL champions, OL coordinators, human resources, finance and procurement, as well as employees and managers. Roles and responsibilities for senior managers are not outlined. The coordination mechanisms for the stakeholders responsible for the application of the Official Languages Act (the Act) are described in the OL management framework. The accountability framework is to be approved shortly by the Senior Executive Committee.

The Department has an action plan in place to ensure that the Act is fully implemented. The plan, approved by the Executive Committee in February 2007, specifies the objectives to achieve and their related timeframes, as well as the sector responsible for Parts V, VI and VII of the Act. The Department also has a separate 2005–2008 action plan for Part VII, which has been submitted to Canadian Heritage.

Even though performance agreements for all assistant deputy ministers, directors general and directors include specific commitments for promoting OL, there is no mechanism to assess how all managers are fulfilling their OL obligations.

In order to keep senior management up to date on the overall situation of OL in the Department, an accountability report is produced every month and tabled to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources, and a bi-annual progress report on the OL Action Plan is presented to the Executive Council.


(b) Visibility of official languages in the organization (5%)

Promoting and encouraging the use of both OL is one of the management priorities identified in the Department’s strategic plan. AAFC has implemented a strategic human resources framework that defines an inclusive culture as being a bilingual workplace and highlights the importance of guaranteeing each employee's right to work in the official language of his or her choice in regions designated bilingual for the purposes of language of work.

The Report on Plans and Priorities deals with the importance of "preserving Canada's diverse cultural heritage, including our languages." However, AAFC’s performance report does not reflect the objectives of the OL program. Program monitoring is the responsibility of the Executive Committee, which is chaired by the Deputy Minister and deals with OL matters. The Champion and Co-Champion sit on the Executive Council.

Internal audit activities do not address OL.

Coordination of the various stakeholders is carried out by the OL Governance Team, a high-level intradepartmental committee chaired by the Champion and Co-Champion, and co-chaired by another member of the committee. The OL Principal Senior Consultant (responsible for Parts IV, V and VI of the Act) and the National Coordinator (Part VII, OL Act) also sit on the committee. In May 2007, the Champion and Co-Champion presented their status reports, new initiatives and challenges to the Executive Council during an extraordinary session.


(c) Complaints and follow-up (5%)

AAFC uses the following mechanism to deal with complaints filed with the Office of the Commissioner: The OL team receives the complaint and forwards it to the appropriate manager, who determines the corrective measure to be implemented and advises the OL team accordingly. The team then informs the Office of the Commissioner of the measure that was taken, asks the appropriate manager for an action plan to implement the measure and follows up on the efficiency and effectiveness of the implemented measure.

Once the complaint has been resolved, a memo is sent to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources, to inform him of the nature of the complaint and the measure taken. A report on complaints is prepared for the Deputy Minister twice a year, and it includes the corrective measures in place.




Service to the public—Part IV (25%)

(a) Bilingual services advertised to the public and sufficient bilingual staff (3%)

AAFC’s bilingual offices are advertised on the institution’s Web site and in Burolis, and the blue pages contain some toll-free numbers where service is provided in both OL. The OL Unit has reviewed all points of service listed in Burolis and submitted their modifications to the Canada Public Service Agency (CPSA).

In total, 89% of employees in bilingual positions serving the public meet the language requirements of their position (Source: Position and Classification Information System [PCIS], March 31, 2007).


(b) Observations on active offer and service delivery (15%)

According to observations of service in person made by the Office of the Commissioner between mid-June and mid-July 2007, an active visual offer was present in 80% of cases, an active offer by staff was made in 17% of cases, and service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 74% of cases.

According to observations of service on the telephone made by the Office of the Commissioner between mid-June and mid-July 2007, an active offer by staff or by an automated system was made in 65% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 83% of cases.


(c) Service agreements delivered by third parties or in partnership provide for the delivery of bilingual services (2%)

A clause included in contracts provides for service delivery in one or both OL, as required. The audit conducted by the Office of the Commissioner highlighted weaknesses concerning the language clauses included in implementation agreements, collateral agreements and contribution agreements. 

The project manager must ensure compliance with the contract’s clauses, including those dealing with OL.


(d) Policy on service to the public and bilingual services quality monitoring (5%)

AAFC is in the process of developing its internal policy on service to the public. In the meantime, it follows the CPSA’s policy.

In February 2008, AAFC distributed pocket translators to every employee in the Department. These translators are a laminated card with phrases and expressions in both OL. Messages about OL obligations are distributed to offices that were identified by the Office of the Commissioner or the CPSA as not complying with language of service requirements.

There is no formal internal mechanism to assess the quality of bilingual services. However, the OL Governance Team, chaired by the Champion and Co-Champion, meets every quarter to discuss language issues and take any required corrective measures. Managers must produce an action plan for the implementation of these measures.

In December 2007, the Principal Consultant, OL, met with the research managers of research centres across Canada to discuss their OL obligations and to remind them of what needs to be done in order to provide an active offer and services in both OL.

The Office of the Commissioner conducted an audit on service to the public at AAFC. The audit revealed that the Department takes certain measures to communicate with the public and to provide services in both OL. However, weaknesses were found, namely the lack of adequate monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with language obligations regarding the provision of services.




Language of work—Part V (25%)

(a) Language of work policy and adequate bilingual supervision (12.5%)

AAFC has a policy on language of work, which is supported by guidelines on the language of supervision and procedures for language of work. The Department tailored its guidelines on the language of supervision to its horizontal work structure.

AAFC has implemented a strategic human resources framework called the People Framework. This framework defines an inclusive culture as being a bilingual workplace and highlights the importance of guaranteeing each employee's right to work in the official language of his or her choice in regions designated bilingual for the purposes of language of work.

AAFC offers different types of language training to its employees: statutory training, informal training, general training in the other official language, brown bag lunches for language retention, etc. Departmental courses offered by the Learning and Development Unit are also offered in both OL.

In total, 82% of executives holding bilingual positions are bilingual, while 86% of supervisors in bilingual regions meet the requirements of their respective positions (Source: PCIS, March 31, 2007).


(b) Use of each official language in the workplace (12.5%)

AAFC sent one reminder to employees via News@Work about their rights and responsibilities concerning language of work, in December 2007. Branch heads also received an e-mail from the Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources, to remind them of their rights and responsibilities. Although there have been few formal communications to employees and managers about language of work rights and responsibilities, AAFC thinks that the absence of complaints pertaining to Part V of the Act is an indicator that its workplace is conducive to the use of both OL, respectful and inclusive.

AAFC counts on the leadership of its managers for promoting the use of both OL and is setting an example by chairing bilingual meetings and communicating with employees in the language of their choice.

Executive Coouncil meetings are conducted in both OL.
AAFC is still working on identifying monitoring and assessment mechanisms to measure the Department’s performance in terms of promoting a workplace conducive to the use of both OL.

The survey conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of the Office of the Commissioner showed that, overall, 64% of Francophone respondents in the National Capital Region, New Brunswick and the bilingual regions of Ontario "strongly agreed" or "mostly agreed" with the language of work regime. Due to the small number of Anglophone respondents in the bilingual regions of Quebec, the survey results for this group were not included.




Equitable participation—Part VI (10%)

(a) Percentage of Francophone participation throughout Canada (5%)

Overall, the workforce is 20.1% Francophone (Source: PICS, March 31, 2007).


(b) Percentage of Anglophone participation in Quebec (5%)

In Quebec, the workforce is 4.7% Anglophone (Source: PICS, March 31, 2007).




Development of official language minority communities and promotion of linguistic duality—Part VII (25%)

AAFC ensures that all memoranda to Cabinet and submissions to Treasury Board take into account the obligation to foster the development of official language minority communities (OLMCs) and the promotion of linguistic duality. The Report on Plans and Priorities deals with the importance of "preserving Canada's diverse cultural heritage, including our languages" and highlights the planned expenditures for projects supporting the development of OLMCs.

Senior managers were made aware of their obligations arising from the amendments to the Act during an extraordinary session of the Executive Committee on May 12, 2007, which exclusively addressed the OL program. In addition, the OL Governance Team, consisting of senior managers and middle managers from various branches, is the forum where information on Part VII is shared. The Team deals specifically with the amendments to Part VII of the Act and the reinforcement of the Department’s obligation to foster the development of OLMCs. It also discusses the initiatives taken as a result of the amendments: consultations undertaken with OLMCs, and AAFC funding expended or committed to projects in and for the benefit and development of OLMCs.

A national coordinator is responsible for the implementation of Part VII. Besides the national coordinator, other departmental employees, such as those at the Rural Secretariat, are also required to liaise with OLMCs as part of their duties. The Department is in the process of expanding and formalizing its network of departmental officials in all the regions of the country. This network will allow the Department to liaise with OLMCs, engage with them in a two-way dialogue, at the national and regional level, on issues of concern to them and communicate with officials from other federal institutions, in a concerted horizontal effort to ensure the OLMCs’ economic and social development. National and regional liaison with OLMCs is also achieved through the interdepartmental meetings of national coordinators for Part VII organized by Canadian Heritage, at which OLMC representatives are invited to share their comments and express their needs. These meetings, which are held at least three times per year (in Gatineau, Ottawa and the regions) with representatives of each linguistic minority group, help AAFC share pertinent information about the Department and its policies, programs and services with OLMCs.

National and regional liaison with associations working to promote linguistic duality occurs through interdepartmental meetings of Part VII coordinators, which are organized by Canadian Heritage, and through the government tables with the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité(RDÉE), which represents Canada’s Francophone minority communities and Francophone members of those communities, and the Community Table, which represents Quebec’s Anglophone minority community and Anglophone members of that community.

Employees of the Rural Secretariat organize consultations with regional advocacy associations. The consultations give AAFC representatives an opportunity to discuss with the OLMCs of both language groups in order to better understand their needs, which can then be taken into consideration during the development of programs.

AAFC has begun reviewing its policies and programs to determine their impacts on OLMCs. In the winter and spring of 2007, the Department held extensive consultations, in the form of well publicized meetings in both languages, across the country on the development of its next generation agricultural policy framework (APF II) now known as “Growing Forward.” Senior AAFC policy officials also made consultative presentations at meetings with Francophone and Anglophone national committees, during which Community Table representatives were asked for their input and invited to submit comments on policy development. Initially intended for implementation on April 1, 2008, “Growing Forward” will be implemented a year later, in 2009. Meanwhile, the initial five-year framework (APF I) remains in effect. This will provide additional opportunities to consult OLMCs on the development of “Growing Forward” during the remainder of this fiscal year and in 2009.


(a) Development of official language minority communities (12.5%)

Various mechanisms are used to inform personnel involved in OLMC development of these communities’ needs: the Canadian Heritage Bulletin 41-42, which is distributed by the Department, and meetings between employees at the Rural Secretariat and regional advocacy associations, such as those held in 2007 in Montréal, Quebec; Moncton, New Brunswick; Regina, Saskatchewan; and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

AAFC is one of 16 federal institutions that is a partner in the Government Table and has signed agreements with two national advocacy associations: the RDÉE, representing Francophones outside of Quebec, and the Community Table, representing Anglophones in Quebec. Each association participates in the community tables of the two national committees tasked with maximizing the economic potential of OLMCs. These meetings help raise AAFC’s awareness of the needs of OLMCs and provide an opportunity to share information about the Department’s programs, policies and services for OLMCs. The renewal process for these agreements began in the summer of 2006, and the final drafts are now ready to be signed by the deputy ministers and heads of the federal institutions, and the chairs or presidents of both community tables. 

The Department has taken positive measures to foster OLMC development by pursuing the co-funding arrangement with Canadian Heritage under the Interdepartmental Partnership with the Official-Language Communities. AAFC funded eight initiatives worth a total of $400,000. The Carrefour d’immigration rurale project aims to better equip rural Francophone minority communities (in Whitehorse, Yukon; Evangeline, Prince Edward Island; and Saint-Léonard, New Brunswick), thereby helping them facilitate international Francophone immigration. By tailoring immigrant recruitment, reception and integration strategies to the Francophone community, the project aims to help enhance the vitality of Francophone minority communities.

The Department has not established a feedback mechanism to follow up on the comments from OLMCs further to the consultations. The plan and the status report for the implementation of Part VII are available to employees through the intranet but are not posted on the Department's Internet site.


(b) Promotion of linguistic duality (12.5%)

The Department is taking positive measures to promote the equal status and use of English and French in the organization and Canadian society by participating in the launch of the Rendez-vous de la Francophonieand other federal government sponsored events such as the annual best practices meetings. These activities are included in the Department’s three-year action plan, which is submitted to Canadian Heritage.

Moreover, in 2007, AAFC established a detailed and comprehensive training and development program that includes statutory language training and developmental language training in the learning plans for all occupational levels.