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ARCHIVED - RPP 2007-2008
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

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Commissioner’s Message

Commissioner Graham Fraser

I am pleased to present to Parliament the Report on Plans and Priorities for 2007-2008 for the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL). This report presents an overview of our objectives, action plan, expected results and spending estimates for the fiscal year 2007-2008.

As Commissioner of Official Languages and officer of Parliament, it is my duty to take all necessary measures to ensure full recognition of the equal status of both official languages and compliance with the spirit and the letter of the Official Languages Act (the Act). It is also my duty to work toward ensuring compliance with the legislative intent of the Act with respect to the way that federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act administer their affairs. I also have a responsibility to work towards the advancement of English and French in Canadian society.

I have the privilege of serving Canadians directly and through Parliament, with the support of my staff at Headquarters and at regional offices located throughout Canada. During my seven-year term, I will honor my predecessors’ legacy by continuing to work towards gaining full recognition by government that official languages are a fundamental value of our increasingly diverse Canadian society and thus a priority. That said, I am bringing to OCOL my own vision and personal experiences. I see my role as that of a bridge builder between the language communities, federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act, and other orders of government. Canada’s linguistic duality is an essential component of our national identity. I will therefore be working to encourage dialogue, create synergies, and build links among federal institutions, Anglophone and Francophone Canadians, and people of all origins. In this regard, I will be considering the question of how to adapt the ombudsman role to new realities.

In November 2005, the amendments to Part VII of the Official Languages Act (promotion of English and French), clarified any ambiguity with respect to the enforceability of Part VII of the Act. The development of official language communities and the promotion of linguistic duality had long been the weak link in the Official Languages Act. I will closely monitor both the coordinating role of Canadian Heritage and the actions of federal institutions in fulfilling their obligations under this legislative change.

As the Government of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages will be entering in its fifth and final year, I will remind the government of the need for further investments in official languages, while maintaining and building on current gains.

In the coming year, all of us at OCOL look forward to working closely with parliamentarians toward our common goal of ensuring that linguistic duality is fully recognized as a central element of our Canadian identity that is critical to the national conversation.

I view my staff as the foundation of the OCOL's ongoing vitality and success. Obtaining the input of our employees is critical for creating an environment for success. In 2007-2008, we will continue to improve the quality of our workplace, recognizing that our people are at the heart of our effectiveness and our achievements. We recently received the results of the 2005 Public Service Employee Survey and we will follow-up on its findings and implement required changes.

The report you are about to read sets out my commitments and those of my staff. It describes the topics of the studies and audits we will be undertaking in 2007-2008. It also describes some of the court cases in which we are involved.

To sum up, the report reflects our determination to protect and promote our two official languages, English and French, throughout Canada.

Graham Fraser

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-2008 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance;
  • It is based on the organization’s Program Activity Architecture that was approved by the Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information; 
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat in the RPP.

Toby Fyfe
Assistant Commissioner
Corporate Services Branch

Summary Information

Reason for Existence – As an officer of Parliament, the Commissioner has a mandate to promote the Official Languages Act and oversee its full implementation, protect the language rights of Canadians and promote linguistic duality and bilingualism in Canada.

The following parts of the Official Languages Act are treated in this report:

Part II Legislative and other instruments
Part III Administration of justice
Part IV Communications with and services to the public
Part V Language of work
Part VI Participation of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians
Part VII Advancement of English and French
Part IX Commissioner of Official Languages
Part X Court remedy

A copy of the Official Languages Act can be found on OCOL’s Web site at the following address:

The Commissioner works at ensuring that the three key objectives of the Act are achieved and takes all necessary measures in that regard. More specifically, the objectives of the Act are to ensure:

  • The equality of English and French in Parliament, within the Government of Canada, the federal administration and institutions subject to the Act;
  • The development and vitality of official language minority communities in Canada; and
  • The equal status of English and French in Canadian society.

In pursuing these three objectives and the corresponding priorities, the Commissioner protects language rights by monitoring the federal institutions and other organizations compliance with the Act, and promoting Canada’s official languages and linguistic duality as fundamental aspects of our national identity. He plays six roles in this regard.


  1. Ombudsman role – The Commissioner receives and reviews complaints and, if required, investigates and makes necessary recommendations. In this role, he also conducts investigations on his own initiative, as he deems advisable.
  2. Court intervention role – The Commissioner aids in advancing Canadians’ language rights by seeking leave to intervene, when appropriate, in adjudicative proceedings relating to the status or use of English or French and to ensure that linguistic rights are respected.
  3. Auditing role – The Commissioner plays a proactive role by conducting audits to measure compliance of federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act and proposes recommendations relating to the existing management framework within organizations.

    Promotion :

  4. Liaison role – The Commissioner works with federal institutions and other organizations, various levels of government and official language minority communities throughout the country. Through that interchange, he gains a better understanding of the needs and concerns of linguistic communities, makes relevant recommendations and intervenes judiciously in major official language issues.
  5. Monitoring role – The Commissioner acts preventively by intervening at the stage where laws, regulations and policies are developed so as to ensure that language rights remain a primary concern of leaders. He monitors implementation of the Act by federal institutions and other organizations, by evaluating their performance and intervening proactively before complaints are made.
  6. Promotion and education role – The Commissioner heightens Canadians’ awareness of the benefits of linguistic duality, works together with community organizations, takes appropriate action to have organizations subject to the Act give official languages and linguistic communities the attention they deserve, and contributes toward the development and enhancement of the vitality of official language minority communities. This role consists of conducting research, studies and public awareness activities. He delivers speeches and participates in conferences and workshops to inform all Canadians of the status and importance of the official languages.

OCOL uses the financial and human resources at its disposal (as reflected below) to achieve its mandate:

Financial Resources (in thousands of dollars)







Human Resources (Full-ti me equivalents [FTEs])








Operating eenvironment

The overall planning framework for OCOL reflects the Commissioner's independence from government. As Commissioner of Official Languages, he can exercise his ombudsman and auditing roles to urge the compliance of organizations subject to the Act. The Commissioner increasingly acts as a bridge builder, including attempting to influence other federal organizations, as well as other levels of government, to take actions that respect and advance the requirements of the Act.

The purpose of the Act – equal status for the two official languages and equality of rights and privileges regarding their use within federal institutions, as well as the recognition and vitality of linguistic duality in Canada – can be achieved only through actions undertaken and carried through by federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act. This is why OCOL is constantly seeking effective, innovative methods to encourage decision makers to achieve these results on behalf of Canadians.

OCOL works closely with these organizations so that they gain a better understanding of the importance of linguistic duality. By encouraging federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act to serve Canadians in the official language of their choice, OCOL assists in changing the government’s organizational culture and improving the quality of service.

Internal and external factors

In its day-to-day activities, OCOL establishes relationships with four main groups of stakeholders: parliamentarians, federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act, official language minority communities and the Canadian public.

OCOL relies on the actions of its many stakeholders. In this respect, OCOL’s approach must be flexible, without losing its focus, in order to take into account, and act upon, shifts in the political, social and economic environment.

Like other federal institutions, OCOL espouses rigorous management principles and practices and continues to take measures to become a learning organization, which gives all employees opportunities to develop their skills and competencies. More specifically, OCOL’s plans and priorities for 2007-2008 are inspired by the main elements of the Treasury Board Secretariat Management Accountability Framework in applying its management principles:

  • Thinking about citizens first;
  • Applying a rigorous policy analysis;
  • Considering key risks;
  • Having the right work force;
  • Ensuring that public resources are managed with probity; and
  • Assigning clear accountabilities, with due regard to capability.