ARCHIVED - Snapshot: Federal Institution Report Card

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  • The report card is a snapshot of the performance of federal institutions when it comes to official languages.
  • It is a response to a recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages, which wants more information on strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of the Official Languages Act (the Act) to be made available.
  • The report card is an expression of the will to move towards broader accountability and clearer benchmarks, as established in the new accountability framework for the public service.
  • The report card is included in the Annual Report 2004–2005 to inform the general public and parliamentarians about the performance of federal institutions. It also allows senior managers to have a comparative view of the performance of their organization.
  • Report cards will be published annually to increase monitoring of the implementation of the Act in federal institutions subject to it.


  • Twenty-nine institutions were selected to cover a fair range of those subject to the Act, taking into account their status as departments or separate employers, size and mandate. We plan to add more institutions to the next report card to give an even more detailed picture of the status of respect for the Act in the federal system.
  • Performance was measured against a baseline established after consultation with many stakeholders. The compilation of results can be summarized under five possible marks: exemplary, good, fair, poor and very poor.
  • Performance assessment is based on several sources, especially data gathered during meetings with those responsible for official languages in the targeted institutions; empirical measurements, taken at designated bilingual offices, of active offer of service in both official languages and service delivery in the official language of choice of the customer; documentation the institutions provide; the results of the survey of public servants on the workplace;1 information systems on official languages; and investigation and auditing reports of the Office of the Commissioner.
  • Institutions are clustered to enable a quick comparison between those with similar features. Institutions in the economic, transport and security sectors are presented first, followed by those with social, cultural or other responsibilities.


  • No federal institution earned either the highest (exemplary) or the lowest (very poor) score. The results are as follows:
    • 11 institutions were graded good;
    • 11 institutions were graded fair; and
    • 7 institutions were graded poor.
  • Generally speaking, institutions with social and cultural responsibilities and other government institutions perform better than those in the economic, transport and security sectors.

Stagnation in the quality of service to the public

  • This assessment shows that the quality of bilingual services delivered to the public is at a standstill. Indeed, for the institutions overall, we find that service was delivered in the language of the minority community in 76.3% of cases and that active offer of bilingual service was made in only 26.8% of cases. These results are similar to those in the follow-up study of the Office of the Commissioner on service to the public. 2
  • There has been little improvement in the quality of service to the public over 10 years. A major change of course is needed to ensure that the services provided reflect the equal status of English and French in Canada and convey the respect of the federal government for the Canadian public.

Some weaknesses

  • Our evaluation showed that in some institutions there were problems in updating the BUROLIS database, which publishes the bilingual or monolingual status of federal government service points. In 5% of cases, the information was incorrect.
  • Information on the language skills of people in bilingual positions who serve the public for distinct employers was difficult to access. In some cases, essential information to determine the infrastructure quality for the delivery of bilingual services was unavailable. The Commissioner expects all institutions subject to the Act to be able to provide these data.

1 Public Service-Wide Employee Survey, 2002.

2 Service to the Public: A Study of Federal Offices Designated to Respond to the Public in Both English and French, February 1995.