This page has been archived.
Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.
I am pleased to present the 2011-12 Report on Plans and Priorities, which sets out the corporate priorities, expected results and spending estimates for the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL).
My primary responsibilities are to encourage federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act (the Act) to protect and respect the language rights of Canadians and to promote linguistic duality in Canadian society. As an officer of Parliament, I provide support to the House of Commons and Senate standing committees on official languages in their mandates to monitor enforcement of the Act and to hold the federal government accountable for the equal status of English and French in Canada.
When I tabled my 2009-10 annual report, Beyond Obligations, I decried the consequences of the government’s laissez-faire approach to official languages in the federal public service. I also noted that the vast majority of federal institutions whose performance was evaluated by my staff received failing grades for services provided to Canadians in both official languages, that they have not created an equitable workplace and that they are not successfully promoting linguistic duality within Canadian society.
In 2010-11—the fifth anniversary of the amendment to Part VII of the Official Languages Act—institutions must pursue their efforts, for the Act stipulates that all federal institutions have the legal duty to take positive measures to support the development of official language minority communities and to promote English and French in Canadian society. Moreover, institutions that have been slow to take measures to enhance the vitality of communities and create a productive dialogue between Anglophones and Francophones must be more decisive in their actions. The federal government must respect its obligations to ensure this happens. Respecting its obligations means taking the necessary measures—taking action.
My office has made significant efforts in recent years to apply integrated management practices. An initiative to renew our computer systems and thus modernize our business processes was undertaken in 2010-11. Full implementation of this initiative depends on securing the one-time funding for which we made an application to the Treasury Board Secretariat in 2010-11. The ability of OCOL to carry out the activities presented in this report is dependent on the resources made available to it.
As I begin the fifth year of my mandate, I am determined to vigorously pursue the implementation of our 2010-13 strategic plan presented on page 6 of this report. I intend to take advantage of every possible opportunity to use my influence as a federal player with the responsibility of not only achieving the stated objectives of the Official Languages Act but also ensuring that its spirit and intent are respected.
I will make the Government of Canada aware of the importance of providing sustained leadership and ensuring that the value of linguistic duality is recognized and promoted among Canada’s two official language communities as one of the key elements of Canadian identity. To do so, I will, among other things, use a study I published in 2010-11 on the leadership federal managers must exercise with respect to language of work. I will also continue to support official language communities to foster their development and vitality. To that end, I will pursue the legal recourse that I initiated against CBC/Radio-Canada in 2010-11 to obtain judicial recognition of its obligations under Part VII of the Act. This recourse will also serve to obtain judicial recognition of my authority to investigate complaints under Part VII of the Act.
I will work with federal institutions, especially those serving the travelling public, to ensure they actively offer their services in both official languages. For example, I will publish an audit of Air Canada’s services to the public.
I cordially invite you to read this report on the continuing efforts of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages to meet the expectations of Canadians.
The mandate of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) is to promote the Official Languages Act, oversee its full implementation, protect the language rights of Canadians, and promote linguistic duality and bilingualism in Canada.
The mandate of the Commissioner of Official Languages is set out in section 56 of the Official Languages Act:
To take all actions and measures within the authority of the Commissioner with a view to ensuring recognition of the status of each of the official languages and compliance with the spirit and intent of this Act in the administration of the affairs of federal institutions, including any of their activities relating to the advancement of English and French in Canadian society.
The Commissioner therefore has the mandate to take every measure within his power to ensure that the three main objectives of the Official Languages Act are met:
The Commissioner of Official Languages is appointed by commission under the Great Seal, after approval by resolution of the House of Commons and the Senate, for a seven-year term. The Commissioner of Official Languages reports directly to Parliament.
To pursue its mandate effectively, OCOL strives to attain its single strategic outcome through continued progress on its three interrelated program activities (two operational and one management) as follows:
|Strategic Outcome||Canadians’ rights under the Official Languages Act are protected and respected by federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act; and linguistic duality is promoted in Canadian society.|
|Program Activities||1. Protection of Linguistic Rights||2. Promotion of Linguistic Duality|
|3. Internal Services|
The Office of the Commissioner plays a vital role in encouraging federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act to protect and respect the language rights of Canadians through their policies and programs. It also encourages other key players to promote linguistic duality in our society. However, OCOL is one of several federal players with responsibilities for the implementation of the spirit and intent of the Act and, consequently, does not claim full credit or take full responsibility for the achievement of the strategic outcome above.
The Office of the Commissioner’s Program Activity Architecture has been modified in terms of its first and second activities only. The titles have been modified as follows:
|2009-10 Program Activities||2010-11 Program Activities|
|1. Protection Through Compliance Assurance||1. Protection of Linguistic Rights|
2. Promotion Through Policy and Communications
|2. Promotion of Linguistic Duality|
The following two tables present a summary of the total planned financial and human resources for OCOL over the next three fiscal years.
Extent to which recommendations (made through audits, investigations, annual reports) are implemented within two years after their tabling.
Frequency and impact of opportunities used by OCOL to promote linguistic duality.
|OCOL encourages federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act to protect and respect the language rights of Canadians through their policies and programs. OCOL also influences other key players contributing to the promotion of linguistic duality in our society.|
|Program Activity||Forecast Spending
|Planned Spending||Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes|
|Protection of Linguistic Rights||6,673||6,910||6,910||6,910||The Commissioner of Official Languages is an officer of Parliament who reports directly to Parliament and is thereby independent from government. The strategic outcome and the expected results for OCOL are detailed in Section II of this report.|
|Promotion of Linguistic Duality||7,230||7,243||7,244||7,244|
|Total Planned Spending||20,659||20,660||20,660|
OCOL has a single strategic outcome (SO 1): Canadians’ rights under the Official Languages Act are protected and respected by federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act, and linguistic duality is promoted in Canadian society. The table below describes how each corporate priority contributes to the strategic outcome and what OCOL plans to do in 2011-12 to achieve or make progress on each priority (more details on the initiatives identified in the table are provided in Section II under “Planning Highlights”). OCOL has four corporate priorities: three operational priorities and one management priority.
|Corporate Priorities||Type1||Links to Strategic Outcome||Description|
|1. Work with federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act so that they fully integrate linguistic duality as an important element of leadership.||Previous commitment||SO 1||
Federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act that successfully implement the Act by acting in accordance with its spirit and complying with its objectives are characterized by strong leadership and commitment on the part of their managers. OCOL will:
1.1. raise awareness among federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act of the skills required for integrating linguistic duality as a key element of leadership in order to, among other things, create a workplace conducive to the use of both official languages;
1.2. work with federal institutions, especially those serving the travelling public, to ensure they actively offer their services in both official languages;
1.3. verify and examine the extent to which federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Act take into account the needs of official language minority communities when developing and implementing their policies and programs and delivering their services, and intervene with federal institutions;
1.4. work with the federal government on the lessons learned from the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to ensure major national and international events held in Canada adequately reflect Canada’s linguistic duality.
|2. Promote, among Canada’s two official language communities, the value of linguistic duality as one of the key elements of Canadian identity.||Previous commitment||SO 1||
Canada ’s two official language communities have an important role to play in promoting linguistic duality. OCOL will:
2.1 raise awareness of the importance and value of linguistic duality and bilingualism among Canadians (English-speaking and French-speaking), particularly among youth at the post-secondary level, and among key players;
2.2 continue to act as a bridge builder between the federal government and other levels of government, as well as official language minority communities, so that public policies will better reflect Canada’s linguistic duality.
|3. Support official language minority communities in order to foster their development and vitality.||Previous commitment||SO 1||
OCOL plays an important role in developing and enhancing the vitality of Canada ’s English-speaking and French-speaking minority communities. Therefore, OCOL will:
3.1 contribute to a better understanding of the implementation of Part VII of the Official Languages Act, and will continue to encourage the government to pursue a constructive dialogue with official language minority communities;
3.2 intervene before the courts to ensure that the Official Languages Act and the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms pertaining to official languages are respected and ensure a consistent interpretation of language rights that is compatible with the development and vitality of official language minority communities.
|4. Strengthen organizational capacity by applying sound management principles and practices supporting its corporate priorities.||Previous commitment||SO 1||
The Commissioner, as an officer of Parliament, aims to continually improve OCOL’s internal management with respect to program activities (protection, promotion, internal services). OCOL will:
4.1 update governance mechanisms to provide an accountability framework that reflects its independent status;
4.2 develop and implement an optimization strategy to follow up on the A-base review started in 2010-11, and ultimately to fully support the organization’s priorities.
OCOL’s strategic context and operating environment are characterized by external and internal risks that influence the choice of its corporate priorities and affect its plans and performance. This section of the report briefly describes the environment, with specific reference to the four primary risks faced by the organization.
The most significant risk is the inadequacy of the information management/information technology (IM/IT) systems, infrastructure and support. OCOL identified this risk in 2008-09 and developed its first IM/IT strategic plan for 2008–13. This strategic plan is gradually being implemented as funding permits, with priority given to improving the infrastructure’s sustainability. However, OCOL requires an additional investment to upgrade its deteriorating applications. The recently conducted A-base review confirmed that OCOL does not have the capacity to finance this investment internally. It continues to work with Treasury Board Secretariat officials to obtain the one-time funding required to address these critical shortfalls.
The following risk, also recognized in 2008-09, is related to the perception that the Official Languages Act has become less important or less relevant in recent years. Although the March 2010 Speech from the Throne addressed official languages, certain key players representing official language minority communities are of the opinion that linguistic duality is not high on the current government’s priority list, particularly in light of the prevailing economic situation. As shown in OCOL’s 2009-10 annual report, the government and the public service are not showing sufficient leadership with regard to official languages in general and in the application of the Act in particular. Federal institutions are making little progress toward fulfilling their obligations. In addition, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada believes that the Commissioner’s interventions have not had the intended result of encouraging institutions to improve their performance. Starting in 2008-09, OCOL reviewed the options at its disposal to perform its ombudsman role with a view to enhancing its effectiveness in bringing about the necessary changes in federal institutions. As a result, OCOL has implemented new approaches to bolster the importance attributed to official languages leadership and permanently resolve systemic problems of non-compliance with the Act; OCOL is now making more interventions of a proactive nature, using more targeted strategies in the case of certain federal institutions, and using a facilitated complaint resolution process. However, this new approach is compromised by the obsolete computer applications on which OCOL relies. In addition, OCOL is conducting audits to measure the compliance of federal institutions and other organizations subject to the Actand is making recommendations that apply to the existing management framework within organizations. Lastly, OCOL continues to use a parliamentary strategy designed to provide better support to the House of Commons and Senate standing committees on official languages as they carry out their own mandates to monitor enforcement of the Act.
Inadequate funding from the federal government is another risk OCOL faces in managing its human and financial resources. The Government of Canada has instructed federal institutions, as of 2010-11, to absorb salary increases foreseen in collective agreements through A-base funding. This means indirect funding cuts that add up year after year. OCOL is also confronted with major challenges pertaining to its dated business applications and funding for its IT systems. In 2010-11, OCOL conducted an A-base review to determine whether it has sufficient resources to carry out its priorities and fulfill its mandate. An optimization strategy following up on this A-base review will be put into action starting in 2011-12. This strategy depends in part on the computer systems being updated.
OCOL, like other federal institutions, applies rigorous management principles and practices. It promotes sound management through the development of its own management accountability framework, which takes into account its independence from government. OCOL has devoted considerable effort in recent years to arrive at a more integrated approach to performance management. This has included providing training and developing tools for managers in areas such as risk management awareness and practices, business processes, internal audit activities and performance measurement. Many challenges remain in terms of collecting and storing performance information. This is due in large part to the current capacity of IM/IT systems, as referred to previously. In 2011-12, OCOL will implement an evaluation function, pending funding availability.
In 2011-12, OCOL plans to spend $20,659,244 to make progress on its four corporate priorities, meet the expected results of its program activities and contribute to its strategic outcome.
Spending Trend from 2007-08 to 2013-14
The figure below illustrates OCOL’s spending trend over seven years.
|Actual Spending||Forecast Spending
Actual spending corresponds to total expenditures as published in the Public Accounts of Canada in terms of the credits approved in the Main Estimates and the Supplementary Estimates, including the standard collective agreement settlements, severance benefits and annual carry forwards from previous fiscal years (Treasury Board Votes 15, 20, 25, 30). The increase in actual spending was primarily due to collective agreement settlements and additional funding received in 2008-09 for the development and implementation of the access to information and internal audit functions in order to meet new requirements under the Federal Accountability Act. Both these new functions further improve OCOL’s ability to demonstrate transparency in its management practices.
The forecast spending for 2010-11 includes all parliamentary appropriations: the Main Estimates, the Supplementary Estimates as well as the standard collective agreement settlements and annual carry forwards from previous fiscal years.
Finally, the planned spending from 2011-12 to 2013-14 reflects Main Estimates only.
Estimates by Vote
For information on our vote and statutory expenditures, please see the 2011-12 Main Estimates publication. An electronic version of the Main Estimates is available at