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

8:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

There may be emerging themes. We ensure that all are covered over three years. For example, at the time of the Vancouver Olympic Games, the selection of departments reflected the situation. We targeted to a greater degree institutions that had key roles to play in those events.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Thank you.

Four of the 59 institutions have not submitted a report to you. Have they complied with that requirement since then? Have they submitted a report to you?

8:55 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

They have to be asked to submit their report the following year. They are on our list for next year.

May 31st, 2012 / 8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

This is quite incredible. If they are not even submitting the report to you, how can you check what they are doing? Whatever the case may be, I am quite surprised.

I am going to cite the example of a very troubling paragraph. On page 2, the report states, "A majority of institutions indicated that they have included language provisions in contracts and agreements signed with third parties acting on their behalf."

So this means that a minority are not doing that. It even seems to me that this is contrary to their obligations, which were established a very long time ago. They are required to do so in accordance with those obligations. This is troubling, isn't it? It implies that one-third can be called upon and yet not be asked to comply with the Official Languages Act? The fact that not all institutions are complying with the act is, in my view, very bad news. How can a minority not comply with those provisions?

What follows is even more disturbing, minister. The report states that "only a small proportion of the institutions have taken steps to ensure that the language provisions are implemented."

In other words, only a majority are requiring third parties to comply with the act. A minority of that majority, that is to say a small proportion, ensure that third parties comply with those provisions. I find this situation extremely troubling.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Our obligation, of course, is to ensure that the Official Languages Act is part of the management of government. That management can be examined every year through a process.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

That is not what is stated in the report.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

No.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

The report does not tell us that you have audited what is going on in those departments that require nothing.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

There is a focus every year, Mr. Dion.

8:55 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

We should take a look at it. Our committee wants to know because that paragraph is very troubling.

Another paragraph is very troubling. At the end of the second paragraph on page 2, the report states:

...slightly less than the majority of institutions indicated that they include clear objectives regarding official languages in executives' and managers' performance agreements.

That means that the majority of institutions that you cover require nothing from their executives or managers in the way of performance objectives. Not only that, but what are the performance objectives of those institutions that require them? Are they performance objectives that the Treasury Board considers of good quality? What percentage of those managers have achieved those performance objectives? We have no idea. Do you know? Can you tell the committee what percentage of managers have achieved the performance objectives?

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

There are percentages in the annual report. Perhaps Mr. Tremblay could answer that.

9 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

Yes. We see that the Treasury Board, the Office of the Chief Officer, has identified a subject that we believe is important and that shows that we have asked that question and honestly reported the results obtained, which already demonstrates the usefulness of our annual report, of the oversight we are conducting, since this committee asks us questions and asks the institutions questions.

9 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Pardon me, Mr. Tremblay. I am asking you questions because this troubles me. So don't tell me that your report is, in itself, a measure that we should find comforting. The report states that only a minority have established performance objectives. And you are unable to tell me how many people in that minority have achieved those objectives or whether the Treasury Board is satisfied with the quality of those objectives.

9 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

In the philosophy of human resource management in the public service, that is not our perception of the role we have. Our role is that of a leader that must make the departments, institutions, deputy ministers and official languages champions accountable. They have been informed of those results, which show that there is a horizontal challenge, like the other subject that we addressed earlier and for which we invite them to take the necessary steps. The fact that we have identified it emphasizes to them that this is an area requiring improvement. The champions therefore go back to the departments to play the role they have to play to ensure measures are taken.

9 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

If you want to shake them up with this report, don't wrap it up in sugarcoated optimism, as is currently the case, by saying that everything is going very well; we have a few challenges to address. You have enormous challenges to address.

If only a minority have established performance objectives, and you are unable to tell us what percentage of them are achieving them, or whether those objectives seem professional, competent and demanding enough from the Treasury Board's standpoint...If you subsequently conduct no audits and are happy to receive the report and to pass it on to us, how do you think we will feel, if not very concerned about the way the Treasury Board closes its eyes to what is really happening on the ground?