OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 6, 2012) - Visitors are now almost always greeted in both official languages, but Parks Canada is having a hard time providing bilingual services at parks and historic sites, according to an audit report published today by the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser.
Visitors are now regularly greeted with a "Hello! Bonjour!", which invites them to use the language of their choice. This marks an improvement since 2008-2009, when the Office of the Commissioner gave Parks Canada only a "fair" rating in this area. The production of a video on active offer as well as mandatory training for staff seems to have had the desired effect.
"The audit results were not as positive when it comes to the ability of staff to provide information to the public in both official languages. In many parks, there are too few bilingual employees to guarantee that visitors will have access to service in the language of their choice," says Commissioner Fraser. "Hiring difficulties attributable to seasonal work and the remote location of the sites are challenges, but the audit also revealed that many managers and team leaders do not have a clear vision of their responsibilities regarding bilingual service. Better work organization could increase the quality of service to the public."
Between June and October 2011, the Office of the Commissioner conducted an audit of Parks Canada's services to the public, in accordance with Part IV of the Official Languages Act. Observations were made on-site and by telephone at 40 national parks, marine conservation areas and national historic sites. Every year, some 21 million people visit the 214 sites administered by Parks Canada.
The report contains nine recommendations aimed at helping Parks Canada improve its service to the public. Generally speaking, the measures the Agency is planning to take in response to these recommendations are satisfactory.
The full audit report, which includes the Commissioner's recommendations and detailed comments on Parks Canada's action plan, is available on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages' Web site: www.officiallanguages.gc.ca.