The federal government is currently undertaking a review to modernize the Official Languages Act (OLA), which became law in 1969. It is consulting Canadians on this issue, and in this context the Institute recently submitted its views on potential changes to the Act.
Given our unique perspective on employment in the federal public sector, our comments focus on how any forthcoming changes to the OLA could affect the working conditions of our members, and the delivery of services to the Canadians they serve.
Our overall position is that PIPSC supports bilingualism both as an organization, and in the public service of Canada.
Specifically, we support:
- The protection of both official languages, as well as indigenous languages.
- The rights of all workers to work in their official language of choice – including full time or part-time public servants and government contractors.
- The obligation to provide services in designated government offices in both official languages – whether service delivery is effected by full time or part-time public servants or government contractors.
- The work of the National Joint Council (NJC) on the upcoming reopening of the Bilingualism Bonus Directive, with an aim to better support the use of both official languages amongst federal government employees.
We are, however, concerned that:
- The federal government is failing to uphold bilingualism in the federal public service by not properly funding language training for its employees.
- Tools used for the daily activities are not always available in both official languages, including printed material, teleconferencing systems, software.
- Inequality in the evaluation of the second language abilities, and the designations of language requirements on positions leads to work related issues.
- The lack of a coordinated, well-funded language strategy for the federal public service is having a negative impact on our members’ career opportunities – especially in light of recent developments in the fields of telework, cross-country virtual teams, national portfolios distribution, and digital service delivery.
Similar concerns were expressed by the Commissioner of Official Languages in his 2018-2019 Annual Report. The Report contains a number of findings and recommendations pertaining to Canada’s public service and the Canadians that it serves, which the Institute fully supports.
Our union urges the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, to make every effort to incorporate them as she proceeds with the modernization of the OLA. Our senior representatives would be pleased to meet with the Minister to discuss our position and concerns in the months ahead.
Members who are interested in making their views on Official Languages known to the government can email them to the Department of Canadian Heritage at firstname.lastname@example.org .