Members of the committee, Mr. Chair, thank you for the invitation to come here today to discuss the latest annual report on official languages. I am pleased to have with me Daphne Meredith, Chief Human Resources Officer, as well as Marc Tremblay, Executive Director of the Official Languages Centre of Excellence within the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.
As you know, responsibility for the application of the Official Languages Act is shared among a number of players in the government.
My department, the Treasury Board Secretariat, coordinates the policies and programs that relate to parts IV, V, and VI of the Official Languages Act. These three parts of the act deal respectively with services to the public, language of work, and the equitable participation of anglophone and francophone Canadians in federal institutions. The secretariat also plays a role in the implementation of part VII within institutions. This involves reviewing Treasury Board submissions to ensure that official languages issues are properly considered as part of initiatives proposed by federal institutions.
Every federal institution subject to the Official Languages Act is responsible for the application of the act within its organization, including designing and delivering effective official languages programming. This is consistent with the human resources management system established after Parliament passed the Public Service Modernization Act, and of course it is consistent with the Official Languages Act. Under this system, deputy heads are responsible for managing human resources, including implementation of the Official Languages Act, in their respective organizations.
Approximately two hundred institutions are subject to the Official Languages Act. These institutions are assessed and evaluated over a three-year period. Certain small, medium, and large institutions are evaluated annually, allowing the Treasury Board Secretariat to give an accurate portrait of the status of the official languages program in institutions across the public service every year.
As President of the Treasury Board, I have a responsibility to submit an annual report to Parliament on the status of the official languages program in federal institutions.
The Annual Report on Official Languages covers the application of parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act.
Last December I tabled the Annual Report on Official Languages 2010-2011. Overall it shows that federal institutions are taking the necessary steps to ensure their services and communications with the Canadian public are available in both official languages. It also shows there has been consistent improvement over the last three years in creating and maintaining a bilingual work environment.
In terms of concrete numbers, the percentage of incumbents in bilingual positions serving the public who met the language requirements of their position continued to grow, reaching 94.3% in 2011, compared to 92.5% in 2009. The percentage of bilingual positions requiring superior proficiency--that is to say, level C in oral interaction to serve the public--has also gradually increased since 2009, from 34.8% to 36.1%.
Additionally, the report shows that based on the 2006 census, both official language communities continue to be relatively well represented in federal institutions.
Finally, I would add that the report highlights some of the measures federal institutions have taken to provide strong leadership in official languages. This includes the use of official languages action plans, as well as simple but effective measures such as regularly adding official languages to the agendas of executive management committee meetings.
These examples all demonstrate the steady progress that has been made in implementing parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act, and in the promotion of linguistic duality in our federal institutions.
For its part, the Treasury Board Secretariat supports the federal institutions that are subject to the act in fulfilling their obligations. My department does this in many ways. For example, we develop policy instruments for adoption by the Treasury Board. We provide institutions with a full policy suite on official languages. We make available to federal institutions tools to help manage official languages, such as the official languages management dashboard. This tool allows institutions that are part of the core public administration to obtain a quick Internet overview of the official languages program in their organizations, with a series of quantitative and qualitative indicators.
We've also made available Clearspace, which is an electronic platform that enables those responsible for official languages to help and consult with each other, and to share information.
We also organize learning and networking events, such as the annual Conference of Official Languages Champions. This month we held our 16th annual conference in Sudbury, which is, of course, a city I know well—just to the north of my constituency—with a strong history of bilingualism.
We also assess the performance of federal institutions with regard to official languages through the management accountability framework. This tool supports deputy heads in improving management practices in their organizations.
We also inform federal institutions of particular issues and provide direction and guidance, as we have done for the Caldech Supreme Court decision, which further defined the nature and scope of the principle of substantive equality in the provision of services to the public in both official languages by the federal government. In fact, I would say the majority of federal institutions have used the analysis grid we developed to assist in the implementation of the Caldech decision. They are now looking to implement required changes to ensure their programs and services comply with the court's decision.
Mr. Chair, federal institutions are committed to making linguistic duality an integral part of their everyday operations. And the government is likewise committed to supporting them in achieving their objectives.
This concludes my presentation. I would now be pleased to answer the committee's questions.