ARCHIVED - Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority 2007-2008

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 Report Card 2007–2008
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority

Factors and Criteria

Summary of Substantiating Data


Management (15%)

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

The accountability framework for the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority (OMCIAA) describes its roles and responsibilities with regard to its obligations under Parts IV and V of the Official Languages Act (the Act). Even though the Authority does not have an action plan as such, it has a policy titled the “Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority’s Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility,” approved by its board of directors and updated for 2007–2008.

Official languages (OL) is one of the performance indicators listed in the policy to determine whether the Authority has met its commitment to “maintain standards of excellence in service to passengers, air carriers, tenants, agencies within the Passenger Terminal Building, suppliers and service providers.” By including OL as a performance indicator, the Authority has a mechanism at its disposal to measure its performance in terms of the percentage of employees who are able to communicate in both OL, and make any improvements in that regard if necessary.

As far as accountability is concerned, the Authority has put in place several mechanisms to monitor how it fulfills its OL responsibilities. For instance, it has levied liquidated damages claims against retailers and concessionaires that were the subject of OL complaints. The Authority is of the opinion that the accountability framework and the liquidated damages claims constitute an effective means of encouraging OL compliance.


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

OL are an integral part of the Authority’s corporate social responsibilitypolicy, which is a strategic document approved by both the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors.

Although there is no explicit mention of OL in the Authority’s strategic and business plans, OL are integrated into the section dealing with customer service. The Authority’s 2005 annual reportreiterated its willingness to continue working with the Office of the Commissioner, the airlines and all of the airport’s tenants to ensure that services are provided in both OL. The Annual Report also noted that under the terms of the Act, “the airport must support the equal use of English and French for providing service to the public and respect both languages in the workplace.” Although OL objectives were not taken into account in the 2006 Annual Report, the Authority intends to include a section in future reports that addresses OL objectives.

Formal internal audits do not take place regularly, but when they are carried out, they tend to focus on financial aspects rather than on a functional theme such as OL.

However, the OL Champion states that a careful eye is kept on all communications, both internal and external, to ensure bilingual compliance. For example, to avoid complaints dealing with the accuracy of language on signage, the OL Champion approves all such requests prior to an order being placed. She also conducts regular spot checks throughout the airport in order to ensure that all written and oral communications (e.g., announcements) are in both OL.

As a vice-president, the OL Champion/OL Coordinator sits on the Executive Committee, which discusses OL issues as required. She contributes directly to all Committee discussions and decisions regarding OL.

OL issues are integrated into the OL Champion’s daily management activities. She maintains direct and ongoing relations with the President, with whom she discusses OL issues and concerns on a regular basis. To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the status of OL and consistent application across the organization, the same person is responsible for all parts of the Act to which the Authority is subject (the Authority is not subject to Part VII of the Act).


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

The Authority has a mechanism in place to handle and resolve complaints filed with the Office of the Commissioner. The OL Champion works directly with the Office of the Commissioner’s investigator on each complaint. When an OL complaint is received, the OL Champion sends a copy of the complaint to the appropriate manager, who personally takes care of determining what necessary corrective measures need to be taken to prevent a recurrence of similar situations. The OL Champion advises the manager and supervises the entire process.

The OL Champion informs senior management during senior management meetings of the nature of all complaints and of corrective measures put in place to avoid recurrence. OL complaints are also discussed at weekly management meetings.

The Authority is of the opinion that the OL framework and the liquidated damages claims constitute an effective means of encouraging OL compliance.




Service to the public—Part IV (25%)

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

The OMCIAA and its services are listed in both OL in the Ottawa–Gatineau white pages and in Burolis. The Authority’s bilingual Web site also lists a series of local and 1‑800 numbers that callers can use to get information on a variety of airport services in both languages. In addition, the Authority places advertisements in local OLMC community newspapers, as required, in an effort to recruit bilingual volunteers.

In total, 80% of employees in bilingual positions serving the public meet the language requirements of their position (Source: OMCIAA human resources database, December 31, 2007).


(b) Observations on active offer and service delivery

According to observations of service in person made by the Office of the Commissioner between mid-June and mid-July and at the end of December 2007, an active visual offer was present in 77% of cases, an active offer by staff and tenants was made in 0% of cases, and service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 50% 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 100% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 100% of cases.


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

The OMCIAA has set out requirements for services that are delivered in both OL by third parties. Language clauses specify that an active offer of service is to be made, that signage is to be posted in both OL and that bilingual staff are to be present at all times on the leased premises. The Authority may take recourse action (liquidated damages claims) against concessionaires if they fail to comply with the provisions of the contract.

Concessionaires’ services throughout the airport are subject to regular spot checks that ensure the quality of services provided in both OL. For instance, the OL Champion recently ordered the unilingual signage in a new merchant’s space to be removed until bilingual signs were ready to be put up. The Authority also relies on the services of a professional translator, who is a former employee of the Authority and who has developed a comprehensive French glossary of airport and aviation terminology. This translator also handles many of the tenants’ translation needs in terms of documents and signage, which ensures a consistent use of language across most of the airport.


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

The Authority has a bilingualism policy, approved by the Board of Directors in 1997 and updated in 2007, which addresses service to the public issues such as general communications (including signage), frontline services and services provided by tenants. 

Reminders and periodic e-mails are sent out to Authority employees and contractors. All Board members must be bilingual and all airport employees are informed of how to offer and deliver services in both OL via reminders, newsletters or meetings with staff that reiterate the importance of ensuring all signage on check-in counters and at food concessions are fully bilingual.

Only 46 of the Authority’s 159 employees serve the public directly. Other individuals who are in direct contact with the public include volunteers and the employees of airport tenants (e.g., restaurants, currency exchange bureaus and airline companies). Employees are aware that the ability to offer service in the clients’ preferred official language is an important part of quality customer service, and tenants’ OL responsibilities are included in their leases with the Authority.

The Authority has signed a contract with Cultural Interpretation Services for Our Communities, an Ottawa-based organization that provides interpretation services in more than 60 languages, including English and French, via telephone. The Authority is in the process of creating instruction cards for all staff who interact with the public, so that they can use this service when necessary.

Additionally, the Authority reiterates that all announcements must be made in both OL and that services must be offered to customers in the official language of their choice. Scripts for terminal announcements have been prepared, translated and provided to all security and operations personnel to ensure that they are prepared in the event of an emergency or unforeseen situation. Regular security announcements have been professionally recorded in both English and French and play every 15 minutes in the terminal. Regular reminders are also made at monthly concessionaire and merchant meetings. Instant reminders are sent out if announcements are made in only one official language.

There are no formal controls to ensure that services are provided in both OL. The OL Champion performs regular spot checks throughout the airport. Based on the results of the Office of the Commissioner’s observations, monitoring measures could stand to be revised.




Language of work—Part V (25%)

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

In lieu of a language of work policy, the Authority has a bilingualism policy, approved by the Board of Directors in 1997 and updated in 2007, which addresses some language of work issues, including performance evaluation, internal services provided to employees and the reimbursement of language training costs. The policy also notes: “Services provided to Authority employees shall be available in both official languages. This will also apply to regularly and widely-used documentation produced for employees.” The Authority has confirmed that the policy remains in place despite the changes to the Board of Directors over the years.

In order to facilitate the use of the official language of the linguistic minority in the workplace, employees identified their preferred language of work to their team. Training and central services are offered in the employees’ preferred language. Employees who wish to perfect their language skills are eligible for the reimbursement of training costs by the Airport Authority.

The Authority once again organized a series of French-language tutorial sessions this year for airport Infoguide volunteers to teach them the basic phrases and terminology they need to serve the public in French or to refer them to bilingual personnel. These sessions are now offered to all the Authority’s employees.

In total, 83% of supervisors who must supervise employees in both OL are able to do so. (Source: Data from the Official Languages Information System II [OLIS II], March 31, 2007).


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

Although managers do not remind employees of their language of work rights, the Authority has reiterated that employees are encouraged to use the official language of their choice when requesting internal and central services from their responsible unit.  Employee training sessions are offered in both languages.

Executive Committee meetings are held in both OL.
The Authority once again participated in the language of work survey conducted by the Office of the Commissioner to verify employees’ perceptions and level of satisfaction regarding the use of OL in the workplace. The Authority uses the results to identify recurring problems and determine if any action is required in this area. The OL Champion indicated that OL issues and concerns are discussed with the appropriate manager and corrective action is taken immediately, as required. According to the OL Champion, language of work has never been identified as a problem within the Authority and has not been brought to the union-management bargaining table.

However, the survey conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of the Office of the Commissioner showed that, overall, 49% of Francophone respondents in the National Capital Region (NCR) "strongly agreed" or "mostly agreed" with the language of work regime. All Authority staff members work in the NCR.




Equitable participation—Part VI (10%)

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

Overall, the workforce is 27.2% Francophone (Source: OLIS II, March 31, 2007).


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

There are no employees in the province of Quebec.




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

The OMCIAA is not subject to Part VII of the Act and therefore has no legal obligations in this regard.



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



(b) Promotion of linguistic duality (12.5%)