December 2016 Progress Report

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Promotion and Sharing of Best Practices

We support official languages champions through knowledge sharing. To this end, we launched the Spotlight on the Top Best Practices contest in July 2016 and gathered 150 innovative official languages best practices. These valuable resources and tools will be made available to all institutions to use and adapt to promote and advance the Official Languages Program in their workplace. They will be published and disseminated in January 2017 as part of the Collection of Official Languages Resources.

As part of the Best Practices Forum held in November 2016, representatives from winning organizations presented their tools and best practices to promote the use of both official languages at a Dragon's den-style event. Dragons and participants are encouraged to adopt best practices within their organizations.

To celebrate the 8th annual Linguistic Duality Day, we organized an Armchair Discussion entitled "Language Rights in Canada: the Four Seasons of the Supreme Court" on the role of the Supreme Court of Canada in the development of language rights since 1969. Some 50 participants attended this learning event in person and 187 via webcast.

We are working with TBS and other partners to create a guide for all public servants with information, tips and best practices on how to provide the active offer of service.

Respectful Workplaces

We aim to create respectful workplaces. To this end, the Council of the Network, in partnership with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, will present effective ways of chairing bilingual meetings during the 2016 Managers' Exchange organized by the National Managers' Community, which will take place in the NCR in December 2016.

The best practices and tools provided to official languages champions support creating workplaces respectful of both official languages.

As recommended by the Council of the Network, the 2017 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) respondents who indicate they have been a victim of discrimination on the job for "Other" reasons than one of the 11 grounds of discrimination protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act will be asked to specify the type of discrimination. This will allow us to determine whether employees feel that they have been discriminated against due to language.

Progress of the Official Languages Program

We brought together key official languages representatives from TBS, PCH, PSC, CSPS, OCOL, TB (PSPC), as well as representatives from the HR Council, FYN and the NMC to examine and propose concrete measures to enhance external recruitment, language testing and retention, cultural change and policy change. As part of this review, the Council of the Network will update its strategic plan and present it to the official languages champions for validation in the spring. Input from these meetings also fed into the consultation with the Working Group on Language Use in the Workplace.

With a goal to encourage students to develop their second official language skills and to choose a career in the public service, the Council of the Network will develop key messages to be included in outreach activities to high school and university students. The material will be sent to deputy minister university champions and student ambassadors.

We are working with Canadian Parents for French, TBS and PCH to create 2 videos targeting high school and university students as part of an outreach campaign to encourage and promote bilingualism as an essential benefit to potential and future employees of the public service.

We serve as a sounding board for new initiatives and innovation, and as a key player in helping to raise awareness of initiatives under way, such as those to reduce delays in second language testing; new approaches to language testing, e.g. every 5 years, not just when someone changes jobs; and more formal guidelines for EXs to ensure they maintain their second language proficiency.

We ensure that new deputy ministers are aware of the Council of the Network and of their official languages champion, and how both can support them in achieving culture change.

Language of Work and Second Language Retention

We champion a culture that encourages employees to take responsibility to develop and maintain their proficiency in their second official language. To this end, we launched a toolkit to support official languages champions. The kit includes tips, e-mails and bilingual articles to promote and encourage bilingualism in the workplace. The documents in the toolkit can be easily adapted to meet the specific needs of each organization.

We are leveraging existing tools and making them available across government. Four tools have been made available to the champions:  

  1. The Talk the Talk series involving linguistic expressions;
  2. a tool to facilitate the setting up of language mentoring projects and programs;
  3. a tool on setting up Second Language Days; and
  4. an e-poster that provides employees with easy, one-stop access to a variety of links they can use to learn or maintain their second official language.

The Chair of the Council of the Network took part in a learning activity to consult with public servants about the language of work in the federal government. Official languages champions were also consulted. Results of these consultations will be the focus of a report which will be submitted to the Clerk by the Working Group on Language Use in the Workplace.

Challenges

The demographic profile of the public service will go through significant changes as baby boomers retire.

Bilingual recruitment, including in technical functions, continues to be a challenge.

Active offer of services in both official languages continues to be an area for improvement.

Retention of second language proficiency is an ongoing issue.

We will have to show flexibility and openness with the rapid evolution of new technologies and emerging social media.

The last three PSES indicated that Francophone respondents do not feel free to use the official language of their choice during meetings and when preparing written materials and emails.

Culture change is a key challenge and an opportunity for the Public Service to make official languages part of our fabric.

The Council of the Network continues to work with departments, agencies and key partners to address many of the challenges, and to provide suggestions to those with mandated responsibilities for official languages.

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