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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 video 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

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative 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 Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

That's excellent. Thank you.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Weston.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative 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?

10:20 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

I think there is a lot of enthusiasm about official languages across Canada. A few years ago, a deputy minister spoke to people from a number of departments in various regions of Canada about practices in the field. There are a lot of examples outside Ottawa, in all regions of Canada. This is a program that inspires public service employees, regardless of where they work.

Marc, do you have some examples?

10:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

I can cite a concrete example that comes to mind; there are many. These networks that we encourage are having an impact. We have coordinators, official language officers in the departments. A number of departments have officers in the regions. The example that comes to my mind is taking place in Saskatchewan. All Fridays are French Fridays, which are an initiative of federal employees who are members of our networks. They are taking it upon themselves to organize what are essentially wine and cheese parties with the local community. Francophones and people wanting to practise their French attend a social event, speak among themselves and learn about the news concerning their community, whether it be about a theatre play, a concert and so on.

There is real community involvement. It has to be said that our bilingual staff across the country consists of people who have families and who believe in the official languages program. Many of them have adopted French as a second language, or English in the case of Quebec. They send their children to immersion schools and create demand for school programs in the minority French-language schools. All that is having an impact not only on service delivery, but also on opportunities for working in their language. These are what I consider fundamentally important supports for linguistic duality.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

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

That is very encouraging. Even if we know the extent fo those activities, if we do not encourage people to use their second official language, we may perhaps be able to say that all our work has not achieved the goal that we set for ourselves across Canada with the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality. Do you want to comment on that?

10:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

Do you want me to comment on second language use?

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

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

All of us here hope that our children and grandchildren will use both languages. This is a gift that we receive as Canadians, that the rest of the world may not know. Given our work on this committee, is it a dream that we can pass on to the next generation?

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Please answer briefly.

10:25 a.m.

Executive Director, Official Languages, Treasury Board Secretariat

Marc Tremblay

The official languages program has been having effects for 40 years. Linguistic duality has been progressively and gradually accepted. There are more people, anglophones and francophones, taking part in this great linguistic duality, across the country.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Ms. Morin, there is one minute left.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

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

You are responsible for the reports on plans and priorities. It was said that it should be mandatory for official languages to be included in the reports on plans and priorities of all the institutions.

Why have you not yet issued directives requiring that official languages be included in those reports? Can you promise us that they will be included in those reports in future? We saw in your report that there were deficiencies. That would be one concrete measure that could help improve the situation. Will you promise that? Why have you not done it yet? What is happening in that regard?

10:25 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

To begin with, compliance with the Official Languages Act is an obligation; it is not necessarily—

10:30 a.m.

NDP

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

Mistakes are being made. They are not doing this. Can this be included in the plan?

10:30 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

The departments' approach to official languages must be applied to all their activities. This is not the only thing they are going to mention in their reports on plans and priorities. They are going to talk about all their activities, which cover everything they do.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you, Ms. Morin.

Thanks to our witnesses.

Thank you to everyone for their contribution today.

This meeting is adjourned.