Air traffic controllers across the country are considered bilingual and have a Level C; so do flight service specialists. Our communication specialists across the country, and especially in Quebec, have a Level C. That is the operational level. It is not just an administrative level. Level B would be an administrative level. At Level C, you can be quite efficient and you can function at a technical level in the second language.
But let me go back to what I was saying earlier in English. Through our selection process, we pre-selected 83 people who met all the criteria for the search and rescue coordinator position. Of those people, we zeroed in on about 20 candidates who claimed to meet the language requirement. I was then told that most of those people, if not all, were francophone: Acadians, Quebeckers, French-speaking Canadians from somewhere else. We are going to test their language skills in the coming weeks.
Of course, if we had to offer bilingual training to an anglophone, for example, to make them bilingual, it would be impossible for us to meet our April 2012 deadline. On average, most people need more time than that to acquire a second language.
We are keen on the French capacity. So we are trying to find people who are already able to work in French. But we still have to test them in their second language, which is English in most cases and in these particular cases. Once that is done, we are going to finish selecting the candidates. We want to hire 12 people: six for Halifax and six for Trenton, so that we can have all the bilingual positions filled in both places when the transition takes place.
But that’s not all. The training those people are going to receive is not second-language training. It is technical training with a series of courses that are going to be offered at the Canadian Coast Guard College in both languages to get them ready.
These are very important positions. We have to prepare the candidates to be search and rescue coordinators. We expect the training to last for several months, perhaps from November to January or so. It will be followed by on-the-job training so that we are going to be ready for the transition by the spring of 2012 for both Quebec City and St. John’s, when the search and rescue centres will be consolidating, as the minister said. That is the plan right now.
As I said earlier, we have also offered the employees in the sub-centres of St. John’s and Quebec the opportunity to be transferred to Halifax or St. John’s. They all have till October 15 to let us know whether they wish to be transferred or not. Of course, if they accept, they won’t require any training. They will be ready to go on the job the very day of the transition. We have those candidates in addition to the 20 or so people we are currently assessing.