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September 22nd 2015

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends expanding and strengthening the role of the New Brunswick Translation Bureau

Fredericton, September 22, 2015 – The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont, suggests that all organizations subject to the Official Languages Act (OLA) be encouraged to use the services of the New Brunswick Translation Bureau. According to the Commissioner, this would allow for better quality assurance of documents published by government and public agencies. In addition, by translating a greater volume of words, the Bureau could increase its financial autonomy. It could therefore play an enhanced role in encouraging a more balanced use of the two official languages across government.

"Since it was established in 1967, the New Brunswick Translation Bureau has developed expertise that serves the needs of government departments and agencies extremely well," the Commissioner said. "It has become a centre of excellence in translation that has fostered the development of a language industry in our province. Expanding and strengthening the Translation Bureau’s role would further our province’s interests."

At the moment, only the departments and certain public bodies* are required to use the Translation Bureau’s services. Crown corporations, municipalities subject to the Official Languages Act (OLA), and other public bodies can have their translation done by private companies in New Brunswick or elsewhere in Canada.

"As of July 1, 2016, over 40 professional associations will be subject to the OLA," Ms. d’Entremont continued. "This represents significant potential for the Translation Bureau, and the timing is right for the government to seize this opportunity."

"Translation of government documents is the Translation Bureau’s expertise," the Commissioner explained. "In fact, texts translated for the Bureau by the private sector are revised by Translation Bureau staff to be consistent with government terminology and to ensure that they accurately reflect New Brunswick realities. This clearly demonstrates the fundamental role of the Translation Bureau."

According to Ms. d’Entremont, the services provided by the Bureau go well beyond translation and revision of texts. "Thanks to the Translation Bureau, the provincial government benefits from consistent bilingual terminology across the public service," the Commissioner explained. "Translation Bureau staff also provide valuable language advice to public servants to help them write in English and in French. It should be noted that the OLA now requires the provincial government to adopt measures to enable public servants to work in the official language of their choice."

The New Brunswick Translation Bureau translates close to 13 million words a year. Approximately 40% of words are translated by Translation Bureau staff, and 60% by private contractors in New Brunswick and elsewhere in Canada. The provincial government recently published a request for information designed to look at other translation service delivery models, including recourse to a single provider. According to the Commissioner, a single private service provider is a risky model.

"This kind of approach could place the government in an untenable position if the provider were to experience problems or cease activities," the Commissioner explained. "The government’s constitutional obligations in terms of official languages are such that it cannot rely solely on the private sector for translation services."

The Commissioner also noted that the Translation Bureau has greatly increased its efficiency in the past few years.

"The Bureau now has a pre-translation system that enables employees to use a data bank to find sentences and sentence fragments it has previously translated, greatly accelerating the translation process," Ms. d’Entremont explained. "Production standards have also been set for translators to ensure a satisfactory level of production from all employees. Lastly, according to our information, the rate charged per word for translation still compares favourably with that of private companies."

Commissioner d’Entremont believes that the Province must take full advantage of the Translation Bureau’s expertise to ensure services of equal quality in both official languages.

"Ensuring quality government communication in both official languages requires an efficient and dynamic government translation service," Ms. d’Entremont continued. "The Translation Bureau is a cornerstone of official bilingualism in New Brunswick."

* Procurement Act

For more information:
Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
506-444-4229 or 1 888-651-6444
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca


About the Commissioner of Official Languages

The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is an independent officer of the Legislature. Her role is to protect the language rights of the members of the Anglophone and Francophone communities and to promote the advancement of both official languages.