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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

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

But if you do not have the figures, how can you say they have met it or not? That is what [Editor's Note: Inaudible]

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

The budgets of each department, the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality and things like that also help apply those principles in our society. I believe our government is achieving great success as a result of those tools.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

I personally expect that the Commissioner of Official Languages will have a lot of work as a result of these cuts, if only just to see how the implementation of the act is slowed down in the departments and so on.

We are also told that the budget was frozen. The Commissioner of Official Languages requested a $6.4-million upgrade to his IT system, and he was denied. He will therefore have to upgrade his IT system out of his own budget. At the same time, there will be more work as a result of all these cuts. We do not know how the implementation of the act will be slowed.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Yes, sir, but it must be emphasized that the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages is not subject to our cuts. The Commissioner of Official Languages is an officer of our Parliament, and there is no reason for him to be subject to our budget cuts.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

He submitted a request to you to modernize his IT system, in view of the fact that—

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Yes, and it is necessary—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

And it was denied.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

—for that office to make changes, but there is a general, overall budget for that, I believe.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you.

Mr. Boughen.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Thanks, Chair.

Let me add my voice of welcome, Minister and officials.

I'm just wondering if you could share with us a statistic that talks about the responsibility of Treasury Board, because I'm hearing more and more that you have some responsibility in the dual languages. What percentage would you say is earmarked toward the language programs? Do you find that satisfactory, or is it up for grabs in terms of being able to satisfy the need that is out there?

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Thank you, Mr. Boughen.

Daphne, do you want to get into the details of that?

9:20 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Are you referring to the activities of training and what not within the secretariat itself, or...?

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Yes, the facilitating, the training programs, instructional.... It just seems to me you're asked to do a whole lot, and I'm not sure my understanding of Treasury Board fits that model, so I'm trying to get my head around it a little bit.

9:20 a.m.

Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat

Daphne Meredith

Sure, fair enough. We've got our Official Languages Centre of Excellence, of which Marc Tremblay is the executive director. They're the ones who play the horizontal role across the government to encourage and help departments meet their official languages obligations. We also provide a lot of support internally to the Treasury Board Secretariat so they can look at Treasury Board submissions through the lens of official languages to ensure that each submission is well assessed, that any implications in terms of official languages are well documented, and that ministers are given good advice on them.

With respect to the Treasury Board Secretariat, of course, we have our own bilingual positions. We have our own requirements to supervise in both official languages, so we do our assessment just as any other department would, to make sure we've got it right and to ensure we've got training in place for individuals who have to meet language requirements of their positions. We happen to do so through a central budget, and we then prioritize who gets access to training, at what time, so we can control the program and make sure we get the best value for money out of it.

So that is the way we do it. I don't have with me the actual data on how much is spent on training, but I can certainly endeavour to get that.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Thanks.

Thank you, Chair.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

Thank you, Mr. Boughen.

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

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Thank you.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Michael Chong

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

I hand the floor over to Mr. Menegakis.

May 31st, 2012 / 9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative 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.