ARCHIVED - Business Development Bank of Canada 2004-2005

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2004-2005 Fact Sheet

Factors and criteria

Summary of substantiating data



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

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) does not have a formal responsibility framework, but some elements of such a framework are found in other documents. For example, an official languages (OL) policy covering the responsibilities of supervisors and managers under parts IV, V and VI is available in printed form or on the intranet. Similarly, it is well established that the vice-presidents (VPs) are responsible for OL within their sectors and the OL National Co-ordinator deals directly with them as needed. VPs are specifically assessed on OL during the annual performance appraisal. They have goals and commitments to meet. Subordinate managers are accountable to their VPs.

The Bank has an action plan only for sections 41 and 42, not the other parts of the Official Languages Act (OLA). However, bilingualism, as a corporate value, is an integral part of the multi-year corporate plan and of corporate practices, including client services, branches designated bilingual, and the provision of internal documents in both OL. There is no specific accountability system for OL. Still, the BDC's Section 41 plan mentions that "the strategy . . . reflects the organizational structure of the Bank and its mechanisms for ensuring accountability."

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b) Visibility of official languages in the organization

The Bank states that bilingualism as a corporate goal has been explicitly present in the Bank's corporate plans in the past and the Bank is of the opinion that it is implied in the organization's values statement. However, the Official Languages Program (OLP) was not really in evidence in any of the strategic documents that OCOL examined, with the result that it looked to us to have a low public profile.

On the other hand, an audit/inspection of each branch is carried out every 12 to 24 months for large branches and every 36 months for small ones. OL are one of the aspects that must be specifically reviewed as part of these visits.

Similarly, the Champion is at a level equivalent to assistant deputy minister. She is a member of the Executive Management Committee and attends its meetings. OL are discussed here in the context of complaints received and when reports are being drafted (e.g., the report on section 41 and the Official Languages Annual Report).

According to a senior Bank official, bilingualism is seen as a business advantage and is simply part of how the Bank does business. There is an ongoing dialogue between the Official Languages Co-ordinator and the Champion. OL seems to be fairly well co-ordinated.

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c) Complaints

The OL Co-ordinator is responsible for handling complaints in conjunction with the manager of the branch concerned. She plays the role of a central co-ordinating mechanism. The BDC receives very few complaints—three or four per year. In the past, these pertained to advertisements. However, the problem now appears to have been corrected. Every time the Bank now deals with an external supplier, it requires a sign-off by the supplier that all OL obligations have been met. Thus, it would appear institutional learning has occurred. There are no systemic problems that have been the subject of recommendations by the COL.

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Service to the public - Part IV

a) Bilingual services advertised to the public and adequate bilingual staff

The BDC's bilingual services are listed in Burolis and the Bank's bilingual points of service appear in the Blue Pages in both OL.

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b) Findings on active offer and service delivery

According to observations on in-person service made by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages in the fall of 2004, active visual offer was present in 61.5% of cases; active offer by staff was made in 0% of cases, while service in the language of the minority was adequate in 23.1% of cases.

The 2003 telephone service audit conducted by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) showed there was an active offer by staff 52.9% of the time and in voice mail greetings 92.9% of the time. Service was adequate 58.8% of the time.

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c) The service agreements delivered by third parties or in partnership provide for the delivery of bilingual services

The BDC requires external third-party service providers dealing with its clients or employees (e.g., advertisements or Employee Assistance Services) to offer them bilingual service. The BDC also requires a letter each year from the third party confirming that active offer of service to users/clients in both languages was offered. The Bank then does a follow-up through both its employee engagement survey and its customer satisfaction survey (both of which are done annually). Both ask about language of service.

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d) Bilingual services quality monitoring

Branch managers each have a tool called the "Survival Kit" covering the steps to take for all their OL responsibilities, (how to ensure bilingual services, their language of work obligations, advertising in minority community media, etc.), so they can take responsibility for these issues.

The results of the 2003 TBS telephone service audit were individually submitted to the vicepresidents and branch managers responsible, who were made aware of deficiencies and are taking steps to ensure that their staff respect the OLA. Reference material and tools available from TBS were provided to branches after the TBS telephone audit, to help employees carry out their OL responsibilities.

However, OCOL's in-person service observations in the fall of 2004 showed that there are serious problems with in-person bilingual service, too, and not just with telephone service. It seems to OCOL that even though the Bank audits its bilingual operations regularly (i.e., every 12-36 months) and does periodic spot checks (e.g., the OL Coordinator verifies service at least once a year), these controls do not occur often enough (i.e., not day-to-day in the normal course of the work). In short, bilingual service quality monitoring may be regular, but it is not frequent. It is likely that ongoing monitoring and correction will be necessary, at least in the short to medium term.

Employees are trained on OL at the time of original appointment. Then, every 18 to 24 months, there is a refresher course on service delivery. In the past, during these refresher courses, OL might be mentioned: now the National OL Co-ordinator will suggest that this training become a standard feature in the course.

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Language of work - Part V

a) Adequate bilingual supervision and language of work policy

According to the Bank's 2003–2004 Annual Review of Official Languages, as of March 31, 2004, 63 of 75 supervisors (or 84.0%) who were required to be bilingual met the linguistic requirements of their position.

The language of work policy is on the intranet. All common tools are bilingual. Branch managers each have a tool called the "Survival Kit" covering the steps to take for OL, e.g., language of work. Likewise, the Bank requires any supplier who deals with its employees to offer them bilingual service. Employees indicate their preferred official language in "People Soft" (the HR data system).

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b) Use of each language in the workplace

Reminders are sent out on an annual basis. Articles are published on an ad hoc basis on all aspects of OL in the semi-annual employee newsletter. The 2003-2004 Annual Review of OL states that the BDC ensures that all meetings of a general nature to provide information to staff members from both language groups are organized and held in both English and French and that employees are encouraged to ask questions in the OL of their choice. All communications to staff members are issued in both OL. Meetings of the Bank's executive management committee are held in both languages.

Even in areas outside the bilingual regions, the Bank encourages employees to work in the OL of their choice. As well, BDC has partnered with other non-departmental federal employers (such as CMHC) to develop some web-based language tools.

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Equitable participation - Part VI

a) Percentage of Francophone participation throughout Canada

According to the Bank's 2003–2004 Annual Review of Official Languages, as of March 31, 2004, 41.0% of the Bank's employees across Canada were Francophone.

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b) Percentage of Anglophone participation in Quebec

The Business Development Bank's head office is located in Montréal. According to the Bank's 2003–2004 Annual Review of Official Languages, as of March 31, 2004, 20.4% of the Bank's employees in Quebec were Anglophone.

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Development of minority language communities and promotion of linguistic duality - Part VII

a) Strategic planning and the development of policies and programs take into account the development of minority language communities

The BDC has an action plan for the application of section 41.

Consideration of official language minority community development is an integral part of the way the BDC does business. The Bank sees its bilingual institutional capacity as a competitive advantage. The senior BDC official who was interviewed in the spring of 2004 reported that a major aspect of the work of regional employees is network building. Local BDC account managers build networks of business customers and local organizations (including official language minority ones) for potential business development. There are also consultations at a more senior level by the VPs in Ottawa, in New Brunswick, in Quebec (and in 2004 in British Columbia) with official language minority organizations.

In areas/regions where there is a sizeable minority language business population, specific plans are put in place at the local level to ensure that the minority language businesses are reached. For example, throughout Manitoba, BDC partnered with the association that brings together Francophone business entities in order to reach this group. This approach applies to all the Bank's main branches, not just the bilingual ones. In areas where the branches are small (i.e., only two to three employees) and the business community is not large, efforts are nonetheless still made to reach this community.

Head office services are responsible for almost all advertising, but some local branches can and do place advertising or other messages themselves. (Last year, there were only three.) The "Survival Kit" reflects the TBS policy requirement to ensure equivalent coverage each time. As the level usually responsible for advertising, the Montréal head office is careful to ensure equal status for both official languages. The Public Affairs Branch has a national advertising plan and handles a 12-month advertising budget for bilingual placements.

Local branches have official outreach plans for representatives of minority communities. For example, in Quebec, the BDC advisory group presented a series of one-day seminars for the Anglophone community; these seminars were offered in co-operation with the Regional Economic Development Agency and included workshops on different topics such as strategic marketing and compliance with ISO 9000:2000 standards.

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b) Strategic planning and the development of policies and programs take into account the promotion of linguistic duality

The BDC believes that the best way to promote both OL is by incorporating the application of Part VII of the OLA into its everyday activities. However, it is not evident to OCOL what mechanism may exist to consistently integrate the need to promote linguistic duality into the corporate planning process. Also, while the Bank appears to have taken measures to promote both official languages externally, it does not appear to have any examples of internal initiatives.

The operational staff of the 80 branches ensure the respect of their language promotion obligations, under the supervision of the 18 vice-presidents and sector directors, by entering into associations and partnerships with minority language organizations and key individuals and by supporting local initiatives that assist in promoting full recognition and use of the official minority language.

As an example, the Ottawa branch has made noteworthy contributions to the vitality of French culture in the National Capital Region by sponsoring activities related to the theatre productions of La Nouvelle Scène. The Branch was the main sponsor and producer of an activity organized in honour of the region's caisses populaires, showcasing their support for the arts. It initiated a major, very successful outreach program for many rural communities in Eastern and Northern Ontario (Hawkesbury, Cornwall, New Liskeard, Kapuskasing, etc.). It also participated in a lunch organized by the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), whose mission is to support the development and vitality of Quebec's Anglophone minority communities.

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