Roles and Responsibilities of the Official Languages Champion
The role of the official languages champion was included in the Policy on Official Languages, which came into effect on November 19, 2012. The policy stipulates that deputy heads must establish an appropriate governance structure.
Since duties and governance models can vary from one institution to another, this generic document is designed so you can take from it those elements that apply to your institution's particular circumstances with respect to the application of the Official Languages Act. Below is a list of examples of activities that reflect the roles and responsibilities of an official languages champion.
The official languages champion in each institution is appointed by the deputy head. Ideally, the champion serves on the executive committee of his or her institution, but has no reporting duties or specific responsibilities regarding the application of official languages legislation and policies. His or her role is to demonstrate leadership, listen, summarize, exert influence and communicate.
Behaviours and Activities
The following are examples of behaviours that may be adopted by the official languages champion as well as activities that he/she may undertake at the institution, where applicable:
- Exerts influence and provides leadership in the development of official languages-related action plans at his or her institution. For example, the champion:
- Increases visibility by promoting official languages and exerting his or her influence on the executive committee of his or her institution.
- Acts as official languages spokesperson and ambassador for the Official Languages Program at the institution.
- Promotes understanding of the official languages obligations within his or her immediate surroundings.
- Promotes the advancement of English and French by encouraging the implementation of best practices regarding the use of both official languages.
- Reviews the institution's reports on official languages, including reports submitted to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Canadian Heritage (for instance, the annual review on official languages).
- Serves as mentor for newly appointed official languages champions or co-champions at the institution or in the public service and helps them understand their roles better.
- Ensures that an official languages co‑champion or regional co‑champions are appointed to share the workload and to attend official languages-related activities or events on his/her behalf, as required.
- Provides support to the deputy or agency head and senior officials responsible for the implementation of parts IV, V, VI and VII of the OLA (i.e. the government's commitments and obligations regarding communication with the public and service delivery, language of work, the development of official language minority communities [OLMCs] and the full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society). For example, the champion:
- Supports the deputy head in developing an integrated vision of the Official Languages Program in the institution.
- Supports the deputy head by ensuring that official languages are taken into account in the institution's decision‑making processes (e.g. Treasury Board submissions are analyzed with respect to their impact on institutional bilingualism (parts IV, V, VI and VII of the OLA).
- Supports the deputy head in developing measures to assess the institution's official languages performance.
- Informs the deputy head and senior management about official languages issues affecting the institution's mandate and priorities.
- Provides advice to the deputy head and senior management on innovative and cost-effective ways to manage the Official Languages Program (e.g. financial constraints).
- Stays abreast of the situation and the issues relating to the application of the OLA and official languages policies within the institution and in the public service as a whole (through dialogue with the managers responsible, by attending meetings and official languages-related events, and so on), and provides guidance in accordance with the institution's vision.
- Is attentive to management and employee concerns about official languages.
- Compiles official languages problems and concerns and forwards them to the appropriate parties in order to find solutions and avoid formal complaints.
- Leads by example. (See the Leadership Competencies Profile for Official Languages prepared by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.)
- Encourages management to provide the necessary resources to meet the institution's official languages responsibilities and to adopt the processes required for achieving the expected results (e.g. staffing processes).
- Encourages the incorporation of language training into the professional development plans of the institution.
- Promotes an institutional environment that is conducive to dialogue and co-operation in order to encourage the development of official language minority communities and the full recognition and use of English and French in Canadian society.
- Chairs or attends meetings of the Official Languages Committee of the institution.
- Carries out additional tasks defined by the deputy head based on the needs of the institution.
- Supports the person responsible for official languages (PROL) and the contact person responsible for implementing section 41 at the institution (e.g. maintaining visibility, meeting with members of the community, meeting with staff and so on).
- Represents the institution on official languages files and shares information with employees at the institution. For example, the champion:
- Attends the annual conference of official languages champions, the Good Practices Forum and a number of other meetings held throughout the year in order to help advance the Official Languages Program within the public service.
- Attends the meetings of the Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions, as required.
- Attends meetings of the Committee of Assistant Deputy Ministers on Official Languages held by the Department of Canadian Heritage, as required.
- Communicates pertinent information on official languages to the employees of the institution.