Evidence of meeting #143 for Official Languages in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was directive.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael Mills  Associate Deputy Minister, Real Property Services Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada
John McBain  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Lands Company Limited
Jessica Sultan  Senior Director, Real Property and Materiel Policy Division, Acquired Services and Assets Sector, Office of the Comptroller General, Treasury Board Secretariat
Stéphan Déry  Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Lucie Levesque  Director General, Real Property Services Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada

11:35 a.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. MacKinnon, I absolutely agree with you, but we need to give equal priority to official-language minority communities and aboriginal peoples.

Thank you very much.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Thank you, Mr. Choquette.

We will now move to Ms. Fortier.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for being here today. I have not had the privilege of sitting on the Committee since last September, but I know that the members of the Committee have been working very hard on this file, and so I am grateful for your presence.

The first of my two questions deals with the disposal process.

The Université de l'Ontario français is currently looking for a site to move onto. I know that the federal government has been participating in discussions about this. Can you explain to us how the Franco-Ontarian community could benefit from your new directive? I am trying to understand the process and see who else could participate in these discussions.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

The Université de l'Ontario français is clearly a file that all of us in the government feel is very important. To my knowledge, the department has not been asked. If it ever is, we would gladly take an inventory of the lands that might interest the Université.

With respect to the Canada Lands Company, I believe that it was asked. I will let Mr. McBain tell you about the discussions that may have taken place at this stage.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Can you give me a quick answer? I would also like to talk to the Translation Bureau.

11:40 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Lands Company Limited

John McBain

Actually, I will give the floor to Mr. Mills.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Alright.

11:40 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Real Property Services Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada

Michael Mills

I would just like to add that Canadian Heritage has talked with the department about the university. Real estate services within PSPC did provide a list of properties that we had that were up for disposal. Unfortunately, none of the current properties met their needs for the university, but in the future we would continue to look at disposals and engage to see if new properties that came up could meet their needs. One of the things that we are looking at when we have partners that bring a more general need for land is aggregating our properties that are coming up for disposal and giving people a bit more of a range, as opposed to just doing it on a transaction-by-transaction basis.

May 7th, 2019 / 11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Thank you very much.

I would now like to talk about the Translation Bureau.

I would like to give you the opportunity to answer the question that was asked earlier by Mr. Clarke regarding quality, but just before, while I recognize the exceptional interpretation work and all the work that has been done up to now to improve the provided services, I would like to know whether there are measures or factors to which we can continue to dedicate efforts in order to ensure that the Translation Bureau is a leader in the field, as you mentioned. I would like for you to take a moment and tell us how you see the next steps and what should be done to improve things even more.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

I welcome our colleague Mr. Clarke's question about quality.

Quality is our biggest concern. I want Canada to be a French-language model for the entire world, like France or any other country in the Francophonie. I would also like the same recognition from English-speaking countries. I think we should aspire to be a model to the world.

That's why we've established the position of Chief Quality Officer at the translation bureau, thus clearly showing that quality is the translation bureau's greatest concern and that it will accept no compromise in that area. I'm going to ask Mr. Déry to tell you more about that.

We've also made considerable progress in establishing partnerships. We have contacted translation schools and professional associations, signed agreements and established partnerships to ensure a succession in our translation and interpretation services. We have also restored the tradition of welcoming students to the translation bureau in summer. I'm personally committed to meeting those students on the ground and to accompanying Mr. Déry in signing partnership agreements. He must be starting to tire of my presence at his side when, for example, we attend the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie. In Canada, the translation bureau is an 87-year-old institution and we should be very proud of it.

Now I'll ask Mr. Déry to talk about his work at greater length. This is a project with which I'm proud to be associated.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Please respond briefly, Mr. Déry.

11:45 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Stéphan Déry

I'll be brief.

I want to assure you that we at the translation bureau have established a quality framework for all the products we deliver to the government. As an optional common services organization, we provide services to all departments that request them and to Parliament. We ensure that documents are of high quality.

The bureau is a leader once again. We continue to work with our employees, professional associations, universities and the translation and interpretation industry. Instead of using the lowest price as the only criterion, our new contracts now encourage both price and quality. We therefore cooperate closely with all stakeholders to improve the quality of our services and to ensure that our clients, the departments, meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act as fully as possible.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Mr. Rioux, you have the floor.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have three questions, which I'll ask in quick succession since our time is limited.

With regard to Royal Roads University, the people we met in Vancouver said they were unable to communicate with you. Has the situation changed since then?

Second, the Directive on the Sale or Transfer of Surplus Real Property requires that federal institutions consider the interests of the official language minority communities. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that seems like wishful thinking to me.

Lastly, on page 4 of your speaking notes, you say you've put in place positive measures as part of your disposal process. Could you tell us what those measures are?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Thank you for your questions.

Mr. Rioux, I gather your interest in Royal Roads University is related to the role you played with the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, a file we followed with great interest and in which your contribution was invaluable.

As I mentioned earlier, we stepped up our positive involvement with the communities after clarifying the directive in 2015. We are increasing our interactions with the communities, we remind the other orders of government that they have obligations toward the official language communities, and we ensure that those obligations are maintained and discharged. It is in that capacity that we feel there is a formal place for the communities in the hierarchy, if I may put it that way. However, we remain open to suggestions, particularly from this committee, on how to formalize, make official and enhance—whatever the preferred verb is here—this role in the sale of surplus lands.

Would you like to talk about Royal Roads University now?

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

Yes, briefly.

11:45 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Lands Company Limited

John McBain

It's early days for us. We've had one meeting with National Defence on this potential disposal. It's still in their hands.

However, as Mr. MacKinnon said, there are several steps in the disposal process. The Canada Lands Company is involved only in steps 6 and 7. So a lot of work has to be done before we intervene.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

However, those people haven't received an answer yet. We should be able to communicate with representatives of the francophone community.

11:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Lands Company Limited

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

I'm telling you what they told us during our visit last fall. The situation may have changed since then.

11:50 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Lands Company Limited

John McBain

Yes, exactly.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

What I remember from our tour to Vancouver is that only one in five francophones has access to early childhood services in French. We're studying the case of the Université de l'Ontario français. I think we should have more than one way of saying it. We should take various interests into account. Since our country is based on bilingualism, I hope you can give the official language minority communities a higher rank in the hierarchy on both the francophone and anglophone sides.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Rioux, we feel we've done that, but we're still listening carefully to every suggestion that might enhance or give official status to the role of the minority language communities in this process.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Rioux Liberal Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Denis Paradis

Thank you very much.

Now we will turn the floor over to Mr. Généreux.