Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Context

The Canadian Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act (OLA) all recognize the advantages of having a bilingual country and maintaining two viable linguistic communities across the country.

To reflect its vision of the country, the OLA sets forth certain requirements and commitments for which each federal institution must be held accountable in the implementation of its various programs.

All federal institutions must take the necessary steps to meet their OLA obligations.  Every institution must:

  • ensure that it formulates internal policies and procedures consistent with Treasury Board OL policies or, in the case of institutions for which the Treasury Board is not the employer, take the measures necessary to meet their official languages obligations;
  • have a main responsibility centre to inform and advise senior management on any relevant matter involving official languages (OL) and to provide a  liaison with the central agencies and other parties concerned;
  • keep an up-to-date list of its offices that are required to provide services to the public in both official languages, advise the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) of any change in this list and inform the public of the location of these offices;
  • make OL policies known to its employees and inform them of their rights and responsibilities;
  • ensure that, in the context of the institution’s objectives, managers report on the implementation of policies relating to service to the public, language of work and equitable participation of members of the two OL communities;
  • manage program support mechanisms such as language training and translation effectively, efficiently and economically and institute appropriate control systems;
  • submit to the TBS the information it requires to provide general direction and coordination of the OL program in federal institutions; and
  • provide regular reports on the results of implementation of the OL program in its organization, notably to enable the Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage to report every year on the OL situation in federal institutions.

The OLA also requires that federal institutions serve the public in the language of choice in certain offices designated for that purpose (Part IV). Federal institutions must also ensure that in bilingual regions, the workplace is conducive to the effective use of both official languages and employees have the right to use either official language (Part V). Under Part VI, federal institutions are committed to ensuring the composition of their workforce tends to reflect the presence of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians in Canada.  Section 41 of the OLA, found in Part VII, establishes that every federal institution has a responsibility to a) enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and support and assist in their development, and b) foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

As a federal department, WD subscribes to the implementation of the OLA and works with central agencies, other government departments, partners and the western Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) to fulfill its OL obligations.

In the previous three audits undertaken by the Commissioner of Official Languages, WD has been identified as having exemplary ratings in all areas of its program management.  WD strives to maintain positive results in the areas of development of OLMC s and promotion of linguistic duality.  For the coming cycle, the department will focus on the following areas for improvement as identified in this year’s report card:  assessment of how language-of-work rights are respected in WD offices, and promotion of active offer to all employees who provide bilingual services to the public.