Blueprint 2020: December 2017 – Plan of Work and Renewal Stories

Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions
December 8, 2017

Part 1: Plan of Work

The official languages champions report to their deputy minister / general administrator. The Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions (Council of the Network) has no monitoring process and does not have the mandate to evaluate the progress being made. It must examine the results of the Public Service Employee Survey as well as the annual reports submitted to Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Heritage and the Commissioner of Official Languages.

When we consulted with the champions regarding the revision of the Council of the Network's strategic plan, they suggested further mobilizing the network and focusing on impacts and results and not on activities. With the support of champions, we will develop performance measures that will make it possible to assess the impact of the Council of the Network and we will put in place a system that will enable us to get regular feedback from the champions, without adding to the administrative burden.

Over the next few months, one of the Council of the Network's priorities will be to review and update its Official Languages Strategic Plan, the three objectives of which are to: 1) provide innovative support for deputy heads and official languages champions; 2) strengthen relationships with existing partners and alliances; and 3) enhance the visibility and extend the reach of the Official Languages Program. The report entitled The next level: Normalizing a culture of inclusive linguistic duality in the Federal Public Service workplace released by the Clerk of the Privy Council in September will guide our strategic plan. The official languages action plan that will be announced by the federal government over the next few months will also be taken into consideration.

Part 2: Renewal Stories

Every department is responsible for reporting on results and presenting their renewal stories, including those pertaining to official languages.

In light of the Council of the Network's mandate, we are pleased to submit five renewal stories.

  1. The creation of workplaces conducive to the effective use of both official languages by promoting and sharing best practices.
  2. Encourage youth to become bilingual and to choose a career in the federal public service.
  3. Strengthen our linguistic duality and empower the use of both official languages in innovative and meaningful ways.
  4. Reducing stress to reach our full potential – healthy and respectful workplaces.
  5. Knowledge transfer to the next generation of leaders.

1. The creation of workplaces conducive to the effective use of both official languages by promoting and sharing best practices

Issue

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. They must designate an official languages champion who will support the deputy head in developing an integrated vision for the official languages program within the institution, who promotes official languages, and who aims to have official languages considered in all its decision-making processes.

The Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions (Council of the Network) was created in October 2003 to provide a voice for the community of official languages champions in departments, agencies, Crown corporations and regional federal councils, and it currently has 225 members. Its primary role is to mobilize the community of official languages champions and help it promote official languages and to assist deputy heads in creating a unified vision of official languages and factoring official languages into their decision making.

Actions

In January 2016, the Council of the Network launched a free toolkit to support official languages champions in implementing their activities. To that end, we are leveraging existing tools and making them available across government. The documents in the toolkit can be easily adapted to meet the specific needs of each organization. In 2016, four tools were made available to the champions. This year, we presented the two following tools: (1) The apprentice tool intended to promote the use of the second language in internal written communications. It consists of an image that employees may add to their e-mails when they wish to inform the recipient that they have written the message in their second official language; and (2) the "Second Official Language Challenge" tool that suggests activities to enable employees to practise their second official language. The calendar, running from September 2017 to June 2018, suggests a new easy-to-do activity every two weeks, such as a film to watch or a recipe to prepare in one's second official language. New tools will be made available to champions over the coming months.

Moreover, in May 2017, the Council of the Network released its 2017 Collection of Official Languages Resources, which brings together more than 530 official languages tools and best practices developed and implemented by various public service departments and agencies, Crown corporations, regional federal councils and official language minority communities. You will find in this Collection the seventeen best practices from the 2015 and 2016 Spotlight on the Top Best Practices on Official Languages. These best practices were presented during the Dragon's Den-style events held on December 4, 2015, and November 30, 2016, within the Official Languages Best Practices Forum. This Collection will be updated during 2019 and a revised and expanded version will be launched in the spring of  2020.

Impact

These resources can be used directly or as models to promote and advance the Official Languages Program in the workplace. Many federal organizations have adopted and implemented these best practices within their organizations.

As requested by official languages champions, the Council of the Network will continue to gather and share best practices to assist them in promoting work environments that are conducive to the use of both official languages.

2. Encourage youth to become bilingual and to choose a career in the federal public service

Issue

We need to inform young Canadians that if they want to become managers or supervisors in the federal public service they must be bilingual.

Action

The Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions launched an awareness campaign, which sought to encourage and promote bilingualism as an essential edge for potential or future public service employees. As part of this campaign, the Council of the Network produced two videos intended for high school and university students, with support from its partners and from Canadian Parents for French. The videos are available on the Council of the Network's website and on the Federal Youth Network YouTube channel:

  1. Bilingual video for high school students
  2. Bilingual video for university students

Impact

These videos have been viewed across Canada. They were shared with student ambassadors, the network of official languages champions and  persons responsible for official languages in departments, agencies, Crown corporations and federal regional councils as well as with section 41 coordinators, and a number of our partners sent around these videos within their own networks, including the Federal Youth Network and the National Managers' Community. Also, Canadian Parents for French distributed the video for high school students among high schools, and the Canada School of Public Service will send the video for university students to the Deputy Minister University Champions in order to promote it.

3. Strengthen our linguistic duality and empower the use of both official languages in innovative and meaningful ways

Issue

On September 14, 2017, the report entitled The next level: Normalizing a culture of inclusive linguistic duality in the Federal Public Service workplace (report on language of work) was released by the Clerk of the Privy Council.

This report examines the key concerns that were identified through consultations and provides recommendations that may shape a future Public Service – one that genuinely includes both English and French, where all public servants feel empowered to use the official language of their choice.

The Committee of Assistant Deputy Ministers on Official Languages (CADMOL) has been tasked by the Clerk to carefully examine the report on language of work in order to provide information to federal organizations on what to do next. In consultation with key partners and federal institutions, options will be developed to ensure a balanced approach to recommendations and implementation strategies.

Actions

We invited Patrick Borbey, President of the Public Service Commission of Canada and co-chair of the Working Group on the Use of Official Languages in the Workplace that was created by the Clerk, to participate in the Armchair Discussion on September 14, 2017, to talk about the contents of the report submitted to the Clerk and to answer questions from the participants.

The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions (Council of the Network) are both active members of the CADMOL, which is currently revising its mandate to include the responsibilities given by the Clerk. Until instructions are provided by the CADMOL, official languages champions are encouraged to begin a discussion with members of their management committee and their person responsible for official languages to examine their own practices and challenges, and to examine ways in which some of the recommendations could be addressed and the implications of some of the recommendations on the organization.

The Council of the Network met in November 2017 to discuss some of the recommendations on leadership contained in the Report on language of work.

We wanted to take advantage of the November 2017 Best Practices Forum on Official Languages with the entire official languages community, to organize a workshop in order to hear their ideas and possible solutions regarding one of the leadership recommendations in the Report on language of work. We felt that the wealth of diverse experience possessed by the participants would be of inestimable value to the discussion.

Impact

During the November Council of the Network meeting, the decision was made to create an Official Languages Champions Working Group to examine possible solutions and focus on the actual problems. This working group, which will be chaired by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, will be tasked with providing advice and guidance to the CADMOL, which must report back to the Clerk. An e-mail will be sent out to the champions in December 2017 to provide more details on the role of this working group and to invite the interested champions to participate in it.

The comments on leadership that were collected during the Best Practices Forum on Official Languages will help fuel the work of the Champions Working Group that will be focusing on this issue.

4. Reducing stress to reach our full potential – healthy and respectful workplaces

Issue

A study conducted by the University of Ottawa showed that communication in a second language is not stress-free. It may involve "risk factors" such as making mistakes, being misunderstood, misunderstanding others, taking on a different identity, changing language use habits, and so on. That is why some learners tend to stay within the comfort zone of their preferred official language.

The research also showed that mental and emotional stress limits one' ability to think clearly, focus, remember, learn and reason. It is therefore very beneficial to help employees get out of this state of stress.

Actions

In celebration of the ninth anniversary of Linguistic Duality Day, the Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions (Council of the Network), in partnership with the Canada School of Public Service, organized an Armchair Discussion titled "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Fostering Second Language Risk-Taking." It was the first time that a learning activity pertaining to official languages included a component on mental health.

During this Armchair Discussion, which was held on September 14, 2017, Nikolay Slavkov and Jérémie Séror of the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) at the University of Ottawa presented the research findings that revealed that certain learners hesitate in taking risks to practise their second language outside the classroom.

We invited Luc Cardinal, an international speaker, business coach and trainer, to participate in the discussion on September 14 and to give training as part of the Good Practices Forum on Official Languages in November 2017.

Still during the Armchair Discussion, Colonel Stephen Tremblay of the Department of National Defence delivered a very touching and inspiring bilingual presentation. He spoke of his personal journey with post-traumatic stress disorder and the ways his symptoms affected his work as Director of Official Languages and his fear of using his second language.

Impact

This learning activity drew some 50 participants onsite and 308 web links.

Drs. Slavkov and Séror's presentation enabled participants to better understand the causes of language anxiety and the gains associated with taking linguistic risks. They presented the Linguistic Risk-Taking Initiative of the OLBI, the aim of which is to encourage learners to take various and varied risks that would increase their confidence. The Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport includes more than 60 activities to help learners incorporate linguistic risks into their daily routine. This language learning resource has been shared with public servants who are encouraged to undertake some of the risks listed in this tool.

Luc Cardinal presented tools based on neuroscience to help participants reach their Zone Haute Performance™ [high-performance zone], which is the inner space from which human beings can enhance their effectiveness. Mr. Cardinal taught techniques for reducing stress and achieving coherence between the brain and the heart in our daily lives to achieve maximum results. Participants will be able to make use of these techniques and tools at any time. When we are in a state of cardiac coherence, we can communicate better and reach our full potential.

5. Knowledge transfer to the next generation of leaders

Issue

Official languages must be recognized as a leadership competency and considered as an integral part of the public service organizational values.

Actions

To ensure knowledge transfer to the next generation of leaders, the Council of the Network is working in close partnership with the Federal Youth Network (FYN) and the National Managers' Community (NMC). The national president of the FYN and the executive director of the NMC have been sitting at the Council of the Network's table since September 2012, and they are invited to take part in all activities that we organize for official languages champions.

Impact

Young professionals are made aware of official languages issues and take part in the dialogue to find solutions.

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