February 2014 Report

Blueprint 2020: Getting Started – Getting Your Views describes what the Public Service needs to be in the future and frames the changes required to get there. Many functional communities and external stakeholders submitted interim progress reports which provided input on the consultation questions and highlighted their engagement efforts to date. We want to hear about the engagement efforts that have continued since that time and about what your way forward is.

Respondent (Name of individual or organization, address/contact information.)

Donna Achimov
Chair Council of the Network of Official Languages Champion
300 Laurier Avenue West,
Room 03063,
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
K1A 0R5
Telephone: 819-997-8825

Engagement Context (What was the engagement process used? Date of event(s), location, number of participants, in-person forum or online forum.)

Consultation Questions (Please tell us what you think. The following questions are provided to help organize your input. In your response, please summarize your views and, if applicable, major themes or ideas that came up during discussions and identify next steps for moving forward.)

  1. What steps have you taken since the interim progress report to continue to engage members of your community in this process? (Where possible, please include metrics about the engagement process).
  2. What is your way forward, and towards what destination?
  3. How will you continue to engage members of your community to move the Public Service forward to the Blueprint 2020 vision?

In response to the above questions, please provide the following information:

Summary of key points (please keep to 150 words or less):

The Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions has identified a number of actions that can be taken as a result of what we've heard during our Blueprint 2020 consultations. Some of the actions and recommendations listed go beyond the scope and responsibilities of the Council. They will have to be examined and analyzed further with some of the key players, as they may require that changes be made to existing legislation and policies in accordance with the approach recommended for each of them.

Details (please limit details provided to 2-3 pages total and use bullet points):

1. Steps taken

2. Action to be taken – Our way forward

Language of Work

  • Meet with the Commissioner of Official Languages, TBS, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and other stakeholders to share the feedback we received during our consultations in regard to the fact that "language of work" in the Public Service can no longer be dictated solely by geography. The implementation of this would require changes to the policies on official languages, and the Official Languages Act might have to be "ever-greened" to ensure that language of work supports the adoption of new technologies and the principle of an open and networked environment for Canada's Public Service.
  • Contribute to the review of the Official Languages Act to reflect today's realities (i.e. Web 2.0, virtual supervision, virtual delivery of services, social media, shared service providers, etc.) to better demonstrate the interactions between Part IV (Service to the Public) and Part V (Language of Work). A more bilingual Public Service can enhance its capacity to serve Canadians in the official language of their choice and contribute to protecting and enhancing official language minority communities across the country.
  • Meet with the National Joint Council, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer and the Commissioner of Official Languages to share feedback received during 2020 consultations regarding the possibility of re-purposing the bilingualism bonus to make funds available to support targeted investments in innovative, low-cost technologies that enable second language acquisition and maintenance in the workplace. We appreciate that this is a complex issue, however, this recommendation is linked to broader strategic considerations such as how language training takes place in the future; how retention of language competencies are managed, and how recruitment takes place in the future. It may be informative to review the approach taken by CSIS, which eliminated the bilingual bonus on April 1, 2013, but has continued to nurture an organizational culture that promotes the use of both official languages.
  • During interviews for bilingual positions, managers should be able to interview candidates in both official languages and not only in the language of choice of the candidate. It is important to validate that the candidate can communicate in either language. This would require changes to the Public Service Employment Act.
  • Contribute to the review of the policy concerning language of work in the Public Service to ensure it supports the timely adoption of new technologies, whole-of-government approaches, the furtherance of an open and networked environment, assurance of access to government information and services in Canadians' choice of official language from anywhere in Canada or around the world.
  • The Council of the Network will continue to champion and influence strategic changes to the Treasury Board's Policy on Official Languages in order to strengthen and modernize practices associated with institutional bilingualism.
  • Work with the Federal Youth Network to create and promote a YouTube video demonstrating "How to chair a virtual bilingual meeting."
  • Promote passive bilingualism (when someone can understand the second official language, but responds and communicates in their first official language) wherever appropriate depending on the circumstances, in order to facilitate teamwork between colleagues without in any way diminishing the right of employees to be supervised in their official language of choice and the right of Canadians to receive services in their official language of choice.
  • Work with the Translation Bureau and science-based departments and agencies to develop strategies aimed at addressing not only the challenge of translating scientific publications, but also the challenge of language of work so that Francophones working in scientific fields can work and communicate in their first language.


  • Work with the DM Champion of Official Languages (Colleen Swords, Heritage Canada) to engage Deputy Ministers and Associate Deputy Ministers in actively promoting continuous learning; second language maintenance; active offer of service; etc.
  • The Council of the Network will explore the possibility of partnering with the DM Champion of Official Languages at Canadian Heritage, Colleen Swords, and other partners to organize a Policy Ignite event that would include official languages as a discussion stream.
  • Official languages champions will be encouraged to take on a greater role as agents of change to support BP2020. The objective is to move from a promotional role focused on exerting influence and ambassadorial functions, to a strategic and tactical role as agents of change.
  • Leaders should be encouraged to ensure that both official languages are well represented in their speeches and during public forums (internal and external). Links should be made to the proposed new Key Leadership Competencies where there is a focus on "Leading and Motivating People" – leaders will support the development of a work environment conducive to the use of both official languages.

Performance Management

  • In March 2014, the Council of the Network is holding an information session for official languages champions that will focus on the official languages aspect of performance management.
  • Discuss with the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer at TBS and APEX how to promote bilingual workplaces and the culture of bilingualism in the workplace as a leadership competency to be evaluated in performance management agreements. Employee performance evaluations should also assess use of language skills and performance pay should depend, among other things, on a positive performance management assessment on official languages, especially after language training.
  • During performance management assessments discuss how employees who receive the bilingual bonus are using their second official language.
  • Managers in the public service should be evaluated on how they demonstrate leadership in the promotion and use of both official languages in the workplace.

Promotion of Official Languages

  • Bilingualism must be seen as an advantage/value. Go "back to basics" and strengthen messages as to why the Official Languages Act exists and why Canada has two official languages. Look for ways to leverage social media tools to promote that our two official languages are part of our identity and reflect who we are as Canadians.
  • Work with the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) to review Orientation to the Public Service training materials and with departments who offer onboard training of new employees to include specific messages on official languages.
  • Continue to seek out opportunities to shape some of the Clerk's messages and other senior officials to support linguistic duality. There are a number of milestones coming up leading to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. The Council of the Network will develop an action plan to increase the visibility of the Official Languages Program by sending out messages, attending events, or by supporting these events.


  • The Chair of the Council of the Network will collaborate with the CSPS to do targeted outreach with heads of universities to promote the merits of bilingual graduates to the public service. A dialogue with universities is needed as they are the workforce of tomorrow and the Government of Canada is Canada's largest employer. In addition to spreading the message about bilingualism's importance to Canada and its value and relevance in an interconnected world, official languages champions will be encouraged to work with their deputies who are university champions to continue to forge strategic partnerships aimed at increasing the number of bilingual graduates. The promotion of bilingual graduates not only benefits the federal public service, but also benefits all public services and agencies at the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels.
  • Collaborate with English and French language communities in Canada and make a presentation to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and at the annual meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) promoting the merits of bilingual graduates, following the example of Heath Canada's training and recruitment of health professionals initiative implemented in 2003.
  • Participate in public service branding initiatives geared to attracting new recruits to the public service and promote the values of bilingualism.
  • Support efforts to inform students on the requirements of the public service, which includes the knowledge of both official languages for executive positions and for supervisory positions in designated bilingual regions. This has to be promoted in a way that does not limit our access to talented candidates who may not have access to language training.
  • Candidates applying for executive positions should not only have the required skills for the position but should also meet the position's linguistic profile when they are appointed. This would require changes to the policy and directives on official languages.
  • Work with the Federal Youth Network to extend their reverse mentoring program by leveraging their members with strong bilingual skills to engage, inform and coach new recruits to the public service on how to function in a bilingual workplace (e.g. host regular online mock bilingual meetings).

Second Language Evaluation

  • The Chair of the Council of the Network is working in collaboration with the PSC to develop a pilot project that will allow public servants to evaluate their knowledge of the second official language by using testing tools and proxies for language competency evaluation. Canadian Heritage is also working with the PSC to make this self-evaluation tool available to all Canadians.
  • Hold consultations and discussions with the PSC and TBS on options for modernizing the language proficiency levels (A-B-C).

Second Language Training and Maintenance

  • Departments and their Official Languages Champions will be asked to promote the availability of free language learning tools and websites such as www.duolingo.com, www.mylanguageexchange.com, the Federal Youth Network's reverse mentoring program, and those available on the CSPS website are made available to employees. Language learning programs such as Rosetta Stone and software such as Antidote will also be promoted and made available if the funds are available.
  • A review of on-the-job language training is needed to reflect today's realities. Learning the other official language is a shared responsibility between the employee and the employer. Departmental policies and directives should be reviewed to reflect this joint responsibility, proper investment of funds and return on investment. There should be a standard for language training with results and consequences to introduce an element of fairness throughout the public service that would also address the challenges and impact on persons with certain disabilities that prevent them from learning a second language. This would require the development of a policy on second language training.
  • When recruiting from the outside, continue to recruit candidates who have the required competencies and who meet the linguistic requirements of their positions before they enter the public service (imperative staffing). There have been suggestions that there should be some mechanism in place to allow graduates to come to the public service with language levels that are recognized by the Government of Canada. To this end, consideration should be given to exploring the merits of a "Red Seal" or pre-qualification of language skills. The Red Seal program would allow qualified tradespeople to practice their trade anywhere in Canada where the trade is designated without having to write further examinations. A similar method could be adopted for official language assessment. This practice should be based on labour market availability to ensure we do not limit the talent pool or provoke a backlash.
  • In collaboration with the CSPS, PSC, TBS and other organizations, provide official languages champions with tools and ways to promote second language maintenance in their institutions.
  • Examine regional barriers to language training. Explore voluntary official languages mentoring programs for public servants, and use technologies such as Skype to pair willing participants from NHQ and the regions.

Tools and Technology

  • Equip public servants with tools to enable them to be high performing in both official languages (e.g. Termium and Language Portal will be put on all new desktops). In collaboration with TBS's Chief Information Officer, Shared Services Canada (SSC) and departmental CIOs, Termium and the Language Portal will be installed on all new desktops, laptops and mobile devices.
  • Work with SSC to ensure that materials available for training purposes or to support pilot projects for the Email Transformation Initiative are available in English and French.
  • New software deployment – work with SSC to ensure that instructions for new systems and programs that fall within its mandate comply with SSC departmental obligations under the Official Languages Act.
  • Innovative pilot – in collaboration with SSC, pilot the use of voice recognition Microsoft tools to demonstrate a new approach to holding bilingual meetings.
  • Submit Termium's source code as part of open government contribution to BP2020 by March 31, 2014. This will allow virtual users to customize their own user needs using bilingual terminology.
  • As a medium term objective, explore the feasibility of deploying on public service desktops, some of the tools currently being used by the Translation Bureau's translators (i.e. memory software that assesses if a document has already been translated; machine translation with 4 million Termium terms).
  • In addition to online tools supporting Government of Canada employees and Canadians, there will be a number of enhancements made to the Translation Bureau's Language Portal. Some elements will target 2020 and some contributions will be for Canada @150.

Online tools to be made available leading up to 2020:

  • Application for translating short sentences in the second official language for federal employees (GC translation tool) in which terminology in Termium would automatically be included.
  • Termium compartments accessible to all federal employees, which would allow them to contribute to enhancing and standardizing terminology input into Termium (crowdsourcing).

Canada's 150th Birthday (2017):

Celebrating Canada's 150th birthday is an excellent opportunity to continue to showcase our rich cultural heritage of bilingualism. Work is underway to explore specific activities featuring official languages. Here are a few examples of proposals:

  • Twitterature contest on the Language Portal, requiring setting up a Twitter account for the Portal. The theme of the contest would be associated with the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
  • Interactive quizzes and fill-in-the-blank dictation on the 150th anniversary theme posted online on the Portal.
  • Crowdsourcing tool created on the Portal to enable users in Canada to contribute to the enhancement of Termium.

3. How will you continue to engage members of your community to move the Public Service forward to the Blueprint 2020 vision?

The Network of Official Languages Champions continues to be a strong and vibrant network, committed to promoting and fostering a culture of public service excellence and the use of both official languages. The Network continues to grow and to include smaller government departments, agencies and Crown corporations. The Network will also continue to build its relationships with other networks such as the Federal Youth Network, the National Managers Community, APEX, etc. We also plan on working in close collaboration with the Deputy Minister Champion for Official Languages (Colleen Swords) and the Human Resources community across the country. 2020 has created positive momentum and energy and we intend to be active in complimentary activities such as branding the public service.

The Council of the Network will continue to encourage official languages champions to take positive steps to strengthen the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society within their respective institutions while respecting the provincial and territorial jurisdiction and powers.

The Policy on Official Languages, which came into effect in November 2012, clarifies and makes official the role of champions and provides us with a clear direction to move forward. Our community represents federal public servants who advocate for and work to facilitate and enable the use and promotion of both official languages across the Public Service.

The Council of the Network will continue to meet 5-6 times yearly and will pursue its vision to build a bilingual public service that protects, recognizes and celebrates its diversity through the use and promotion of both the English and French languages.

As leaders, we are engaged to help build and support the public service of the future, continually pushing the boundaries and being inspired by the successes we have achieve in official languages. We, as a network, will continue to be innovative, to promote success and to work collaboratively with each other in order to reach our full potential and to make sustainable progress.


(When complete, please submit using the Blueprint 2020 email address or send to Blueprint 2020 Engagement Task Team, Government of Canada, 140 O'Connor Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5.)

Date modified: