Evidence of meeting #45 for Official Languages in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was departments.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Daphne Meredith  Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Marc Tremblay  Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Do I have any time left, Mr. Chair?

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

You have one minute left.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Very well.

Here is another example for you. You say you have developed an analysis grid to ensure that the decision in the Desrochers, or CALDECH, affair is complied with. We have no idea what that analysis grid is. Then you say that a majority of federal institutions have used the grid, but unevenly. The minority are therefore not even interested in your grid. Things are going well. We do not even know whether it is a good grid, but we know that a minority may not even have read it.

10:15 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

We will be pleased to send it to you.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Thank you.

10:15 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

I will also point out that the reports indicate the measures taken. In fact, some issues require the departments to explain the measures they have taken to implement this CALDECH grid. So the departments are providing an enormous amount of detail. It is on that basis that we are making our observations.

Those reviews are then submitted to this committee. The clerk of the committee receives a copy of each of the reviews submitted by each federal institution. So this information is widely available for the study of that department. We will be pleased to send you the analysis grid from the CALDECH affair.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

All right, thank you.

Mr. Menegakis, you have the floor.

May 31st, 2012 / 10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

I am listening carefully to the exchange back and forth, and I want to bring the discussion back to the strong effort being done to promote linguistic duality. I think the Treasury Board and you folks have been partners of ours in ensuring that happens. I was going through the submission of the minister, his annual report of last year. I was struck with something when reading it. It sounded to me like it was a positive measure. Perhaps you can explain to us what the difference was from before. Specifically in the report, it says:

The human resources management regime has undergone changes over the preceding year, allowing deputy heads to have flexibility and to be able to exercise stronger leadership in human resources management...

Can you explain to us what changed, how that changed, and how that has given the department heads more prerogative, if you will, to exercise leadership?

10:15 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Thanks for the question.

I talked earlier to Marc about the changes we have been working on for our suite of Treasury Board policies respecting departments with a view to simplifying them. Those are not yet approved by Treasury Board, but we hope to be taking them to the board soon. Partly, it's working with departments to focus on the key requirements that we want to retain, and where we're going to be offering them greater flexibility. That's in terms of instruments—how we're working on greater flexibility.

I would say most of the activity to date, though, has revolved around changing the culture to really make clear to them that they have responsibility. We have been trying to help them in that regard. Obviously we have the data that has been long-standing in the annual report, and against which we reported progress over the years. We have posed to departments the questions that some of the members of this committee are focusing on, because we thought they would be relevant questions that would help departments get on track. From some of the feedback we're getting, that is valuable feedback for us to then send to the leadership of departments, to say that this is what is determined to be relevant, what parliamentarians are interested in having them do. We can then use these as ways to direct the focus of their activity.

Giving them flexibility, reinforcing the flexibility, and reinforcing the fact that it's their responsibility and that they need to build the capacity within through some of the measures we have highlighted in this report is how we're repositioning our role.

10:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

If I can just add a very concrete example, we've been having discussions with departments about the role of champions and whether they need a committee, and whether we could impose that or should impose that by way of policy in a really structured approach to official languages. In our central agency minds, that sounded like a series of good ideas.

They weren't bad ideas, I'd say, in our defence, but some of the departments told us that they have six employees and to have a committee structure created is completely useless to them; when they sit around the table, they're all there.

So the idea is that we don't know everything at the centre. We give the impulsion to the program, and then we let the doers do, adapt, make it real, and make it theirs. We think that has a great potential for change to actually occur, and we're seeing positive signs in that regard.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

I'm a big believer in recognizing those who are exemplary in performing their tasks. I've heard the word “champions” used several times this morning. Can you tell us how someone achieves that title? What do they have to do to become a champion? Or is that a job they take on?

10:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

On the champions, this was an initiative the office took a number of years ago. I think we're at our sixteenth annual conference now.

The idea was that you'd take a senior official—someone who was identified by the deputy head—aside from their normal functions, an official who, in addition to their normal functions, would really be able to speak the truth to power, and to tell the deputy head things that maybe the deputy head needs to hear but may not be getting through the normal structure. For example, somebody is responsible for human resources or somebody is responsible for programs and services, and maybe they're performing well, but not great. The champion can bring that type of information forward.

The champion is always there. We've seen fantastic work being done by champions—real changes. I can tell you that I was at the justice department before, and I have seen the great enthusiasm that a highly motivated senior official can bring to the ranks, so that all of a sudden you have a lot of people who are interested in the matter, but who take it up because they can see that someone in the higher ranks values what they're doing and thinks it's important.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

That's excellent. Thank you.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Weston.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you again for your answers. We are concerned: we fear that what is being done here in Ottawa does not take into account people elsewhere in the country. Is what we are doing here relevant? Can you tell us whether the work we are talking about this morning improves the lives of people in St. John's or Vancouver, for example?