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 official.

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

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Boughen.

Now we'll have a brief question from Madame Morin.

May 31st, 2012 / 9:25 a.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

My question is about part VI of the act. The report mentions that both official language communities are relatively well represented in the federal institutions that are subject to the act. But even those limited successes cited in the report are defied by escalating complaints about the representation of linguistic communities in certain regions of the country. Especially in my riding in Montreal, there are a lot of anglophones, and some groups, such as the QCGN, believe that the anglophone community is not well represented in Quebec.

I would like your comments on that. It's not like in Canada we have anglophone communities somewhere and francophone communities in Quebec. There are anglophones in Quebec, and I want to know your excuses about that. What do you want to do for anglophones?

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Thank you. I don't know the details in Montreal, but perhaps Marc does.

9:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

It's a fairly technical issue. I'd be glad to answer the question.

Yes, numbers are provided. I think the first thing to ask, when we look back 40 years, is what progress has been achieved over that period of time. It was one of the fundamental goals of the Official Languages Act, to begin with, to right that balance in the public service overall.

It's important, as well, to understand that part VI is not framed like the other parts and provisions of the act. We're talking about a broad commitment to get to a certain representation and to ensure that there are no systemic barriers to employment and chances of advancement in the public service. I think if we look to the data, our data begins to be more precise starting in 1978, for reasons I won't go into. But from 1978 to now, we see that great strides have been achieved throughout the public service at various levels of representation and in different occupational groups. There are differences, particularly between the core public administration and the rest of the broader public service covered by the act. But overall, it has to be said that the balance is fairly good. If we were to do any measures, if there's an under-representation on the one hand, that would kind of beg the question of what would happen. Would you then reduce the employment of anglophones in the example on the other hand? That's a particular challenge.

Really, what the policies and directives given to departments aim to do is to ensure that there are no systemic barriers, and in situations where there are indicators of potential problems.... And potential problems is all I would concede at this point; I'm not making excuses, I have to say, but if there are such indicators, then we remind them that they should ensure that they are advertised broadly, that they use the minority community media to advertise positions, that they maintain good relationships and rapport with the anglophone minority community organizations, and that they ensure that their boards are representative of the population they try to attract. Those are the only types of measures. It's quite clear, both under the policies and under the act, that merit is the overarching principle here. You cannot have quotas and you cannot target particular groups in any staffing action.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you, Ms. Morin. You have no more time. It is 9:30 a.m.

We're finished with our first panel. We want to thank Minister Clement, President of the Treasury Board, for his appearance in front of our committee.

We'll suspend for ten minutes to allow him to leave before we move on to the second part of our meeting.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Thank you.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

We are continuing our meeting of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

I hand the floor over to Mr. Menegakis.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to welcome our witnesses appearing before us today. It's always nice to have officials from the department so we can get some clarifications on some questions. I listened with great attention to the first part of this morning's meeting.

Over the last so many months of this 41st Parliament, we've been studying the road map for linguistic duality. It's a fairly large initiative, representing a significant amount of money—well over $1 billion throughout the entire program. I'm wondering if you can elaborate for us how the Treasury Board monitors programming funded to the road map.

9:35 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

We have our own role in carrying out the activities of the road map. In fact we had $17 million dedicated to the Treasury Board Secretariat to that end: $3.4 million a year. That money funds the Official Languages Centre of Excellence, of which Marc is a director.

I've described some of the things that we do, including assisting our analysts at the Treasury Board in reviewing Treasury Board submissions. Indeed, in the recent strategic and operating review, all of those proposals were assessed through the lens of official languages, and all of that was spearheaded by Marc's group.

The road map money in the secretariat also funds other activities, including the assessment of organizations against the management accountability framework. It's an annual assessment of them, and it provides them with some tools. We're encouraging community activity, and we've introduced several tools for it, including WebPoint 2.0 and analytical grids. This allows them to determine whether their thinking's on track, whether it promotes service to the public and encourages a healthy workplace for both official languages to flourish in. Our role in the road map is based in our centre of excellence for official languages, which has all of those activities at the horizontal level, including analytics and tool provision.

9:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

Canadian Heritage and the Official Languages Secretariat are charged with the horizontal coordination and management of the road map, with the 14 or so partners involved. It's not the centre as part of the Treasury Board Secretariat that handles those functions. They've set out the performance measurements and the indicators. They're working on the horizontal evaluation of the road map. Of course, that will come back through governmental decision processes to Treasury Board Secretariat when funding decisions have to be taken. There are analysts in the Treasury Board who are tasked with following the initiatives, as they do with any other spending.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Do you have a role in monitoring how the funds that go to a partner are used? Do we audit the partner? There were a lot of witnesses who appeared, and an awful lot of them were recipients of funding. I'm just wondering how that is monitored.

You give somebody money, they can put it in their operation and the administration of their operation. We're interested in ensuring that the money actually goes into programming that promotes linguistic duality, primarily for the English community in Quebec and for the francophone community in the rest of the country.

9:40 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

So we come back to our basic starting premise that individual departments are responsible—the deputy heads are responsible for the spending that occurs in their department. There is an audit and evaluation policy for the Government of Canada at large, so programs are subject to audit and evaluation in that regard.

As to road map money itself, as I indicated a little earlier, there is an evaluation process going on overall, so they will be looking at the reception of funds, the outflow of funds, and the results obtained for the funds. We're undergoing that evaluation.

Madam Meredith referred to the $17 million we got over five years. Our evaluators are looking at the expenditures and asking the relevant questions. They are asking other institutions as well as members of the minority community representative groups for their views and input in order to assess whether this aspect of the program has been good value for money and has reached the results we set out to reach.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Thank you.

Ms. Morin, you have used three minutes. So you have two minutes left.

Mr. Godin, you will be entitled to five minutes.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for allowing me to use my two remaining minutes.

The TBS Centre of Excellence for Evaluation is currently developing an evaluation plan for the Government of Canada. How will official languages be part of that plan? We get the impression that the Centre of Excellence for Evaluation people do not really communicate with those of the Centre of Excellence for Official Languages. We would like to know why that is the case. What is your view on the matter? Are communications good? What can be done to improve communications between the two centres?

9:45 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Mr. Tremblay can answer that question.