Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

March 03, 2011 08:00 ET

Achieving Bilingual Workplace Requires Public Service Leadership, Says Graham Fraser

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 3, 2011) - With many federal employees still struggling to work in the official language of their choice, Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages today released a study to help public service managers in bilingual regions foster a work environment where employees feel comfortable using English or French.           

Beyond Bilingual Meetings: Leadership Behaviours for Managers, provides a new perspective on how federal public service managers can adopt positive behaviours and take action to ensure that their employees can use the official language of their choice at work.

"Within Canadian society, linguistic duality is a fundamental value and should be an essential part of the public service," said Mr. Fraser. "But twenty years after language-of-work provisions were added to the Official Languages Act, creating a public service that reflects Canada's linguistic duality remains a challenge."

The study, which includes input from more than100 federal employees in over 30 institutions, concludes that the actions of managers have a direct impact, on a daily basis, on the use of both official languages within the public service. A Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages is included in the study to help senior and middle managers target actions that can be taken to improve the situation.

The Commissioner noted that management of linguistic duality in the public service is essentially a question of respect.

"Managers need to consider federal employees as individuals with a specific culture, identity and language," said Mr. Fraser. "It is important to recognize that linguistic duality is not just about language differences and obligations; it must be approached as a matter of recognizing and managing diversity."

The Commissioner issued five recommendations based on the findings of the study, including that public service managers at all levels adopt the behaviours identified in the Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages and that their supervisors take these efforts into account.

Recommendations

Based on the observations of the study, the Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that:

1. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, when revising language policies, take into account the importance of promoting linguistic duality as a fundamental value of the public service and of institutional and individual leadership.

2. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat consider the possibility of including the Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages when revising the Key Leadership Competencies Profile.

3. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat examine the language-of-work issue as a whole in order to broaden its interpretation of Part V of the Official Languages Act to include all employees who work in regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes, regardless of the linguistic designation of their position.

4. Public service managers at all levels adopt the behaviours identified in the Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages and that their supervisors take these efforts into account.

5. The Canada School of Public Service add an official languages component, which includes the Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages, to its leadership training.

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