Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

September 19, 2011 08:00 ET

Air Canada to Improve Bilingual Service, Following the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages' Audit

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 19, 2011) - Canadians need a greater commitment from senior management at Air Canada in order to receive a better level of service from the airline in the official language of their choice, an audit released today by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has found.

The first full audit of Air Canada by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages was undertaken to evaluate the services provided in both official languages on board flights on designated bilingual routes, at airports where the national carrier has language obligations and in call centres. The audit includes 12 recommendations to help Air Canada improve its service delivery to passengers in both official languages.

"This audit highlights some positive observations and reveals some situations that require improvement to ensure that Air Canada complies fully with the Official Languages Act," said Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser. "The corrective measures we propose can be applied fairly easily – in fact, Air Canada has integrated most of them into its new action plan and is committed to implementing them."

The audit notes that Air Canada currently has a structure to manage the various obligations it must meet under the Official Languages Act and has appointed an official languages champion. It also has a number of means at its disposal for communicating language requirements to personnel. Unfortunately, the results of the audit show significant shortcomings in the knowledge Air Canada managers and agents have of their organization's obligations with respect to the active offer and delivery of bilingual services.

"During this audit, Air Canada's senior management and employee union officials committed their full support to help the airline to meet its official language obligations," said Mr. Fraser. "There is recognition that change is required in Air Canada's organizational culture and leadership, and that it must begin at the top level and filter down through all levels, leading to concrete improvements for the travelling public."

The attached backgrounder lists key recommendations by the Commissioner and responses from Air Canada.

The complete audit is available on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages' Web site at www.officiallanguages.gc.ca.

Backgrounder – Key recommendations in the audit and Air Canada responses

  • The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that Air Canada develop and implement an accountability framework for official languages in order to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of its personnel.

    Air Canada Response: Air Canada will develop and implement an accountability framework for official languages by the end of the year, which will include the guiding principles for the effective management of official languages.

  • The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that Air Canada establish a new action plan on the effective implementation of Part IV and the other parts of the Official Languages Act.

    Air Canada Response: Air Canada will develop a new three-year action plan that will ensure continued compliance with Part IV of the Official Languages Act and complement our commercial goals.

  • The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that Air Canada take concrete and effective measures to raise awareness among managers, service directors, flight attendants, lead agents, and customer sales and service agents of the company's responsibilities pertaining to the active offer and delivery of bilingual services under Part IV of the Official Languages Act.

    AC Response: Air Canada has many media vehicles available to communicate with its employees. It will raise awareness of its linguistic obligations by:

    • Using all available media vehicles to effectively communicate employee responsibilities;
    • Updating employee indoctrination requirements;
    • Reviewing and updating language qualifications requirements for Air Canada, Jazz and other potential required affiliates.

Contact Information

  • Nelson Kalil
    Manager, Media Relations
    Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
    Telephone: 613-995-0374
    Cellular: 613-324-0999 or Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368
    nelson.kalil@ocol-clo.gc.ca