September 22, 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.

 

June 18, 2015

The Commissioner of Official Languages presents her second annual report

Fredericton, June 18, 2015 – Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont, is recommending that starting in 2020, bilingualism be a requirement for appointment to a senior public servant position in New Brunswick. In the meantime, the Commissioner recommends that a unilingual person appointed to a senior public servant position be required to attain an advanced level of proficiency in the other official language.

These recommendations are from a study on bilingualism in New Brunswick’s senior public service, presented in the Office of the Commissioner’s 2014-2015 annual report.

“There are several reasons why senior public servants need to be able to speak both official languages,” the Commissioner explained. “Apart from their obligation to communicate with the two linguistic communities and to supervise Anglophone and Francophone employees, senior public servants are also primarily responsible for applying the Official Languages Act. For all of these reasons, bilingualism is an essential competency.”

Senior public servants, i.e. deputy ministers, assistant deputy ministers, and executive directors, account for roughly 3% of all government employees in departments and agencies (Part 1). The study by the Office of the Commissioner showed that approximately 50% of New Brunswick’s senior government officials can carry out their duties in both official languages.

“The Official Languages Act now requires the government to improve the bilingual capacity of its senior management. Our recommendations should guide the government towards attaining that objective,” d'Entremont added.

The Commissioner is also recommending that a provincial act be adopted so that in the future, bilingualism be a requirement for the appointment of officers of the Legislative Assembly. The Province has eight officers, including the Ombudsman and the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“The time has come for New Brunswick to live up to its status as the only officially bilingual province in Canada and take decisive action to ensure that all senior public servants in the province speak both English and French,” said d’Entremont.

The Commissioner also presents recommendations to ensure the success of the next Implementation Plan of the Official Languages Act.

“An evaluation of the last plan revealed that very few concrete measures have been implemented. That is very disappointing, as the plan was intended to give new impetus to official bilingualism,” said d’Entremont.  “Since December 2013, the provincial government has had a legal obligation to adopt a new plan which it has not done yet. I expect this plan will be announced soon, and more importantly, that it will be truly implemented.”

With respect to investigations, the Commissioner highlights the City of Miramichi’s non-compliance with its language obligations.

“Widespread violations of the Official Languages Act have been persisting for several years in Miramichi. This situation is unacceptable, and government officials must ensure that the city complies with the Act.”

The Office of the Commissioner’s 2014-2015 annual report also includes the results of a major study on the evolution of bilingualism in New Brunswick. It shows that the number of bilingual people in the province more than doubled between 1951 and 2001, settling at slightly more than one-third (34.2%) of the population.  However, since the early 2000s, the number of bilingual people in New Brunswick has been stagnating.

The Commissioner also addresses the new language obligations of professional associations and is pleased the provincial government accepted her recommendation to extend the associations’ language obligations to the general public. “The primary role of a professional association is to protect the public by regulating the practice of a profession. Consequently, it was not acceptable that their language obligations be limited to their members.  I applaud the Legislative Assembly’s recent actions in amending the Official Languages Act so that, beginning in 2016, professional associations will be required to offer their services to the public in both official languages.”

Again this year, the Commissioner highlights best practices in the delivery of bilingual services to the public and the use of both official languages within government departments and agencies. The efforts of the following employees are recognized:

Language of Service
Éric Levesque
Nicole Newman
Michèle Roussel
(Health Workforce Planning Branch – Department of Health)

Language of Service
Edith Tippett
(Service New Brunswick)

Language of Work
Eric Nadeau
(Service New Brunswick)

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.

 

COMMISSIONER’S RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE BILINGUAL CAPACITY OF THE SENIOR PUBLIC SERVICE IN NEW BRUNSWICK

Legislative Officers

• That the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick enact legislation establishing that the ability to speak and understand both official languages (level 3, oral, in the second language) be a requirement for the appointment of all new officers of the Legislative Assembly.

Deputy Ministers, Assistant Deputy Ministers and other Senior Public Servants*

• That, over the next four years, all competitions for and staffing of deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and other executive positions (Pay Bands 8 to 12) include

o a requirement to speak and understand  both official languages (level 3, oral, in the second language)
or
o a requirement to attain a level 3, oral, in the second language, within three years from the date of appointment.

• That, beginning in 2020, the ability to speak and understand both official languages (level 3, oral, in the second language) be a requirement for the appointment of all deputy minister, assistant deputy minister and other executive positions (Pay Bands 8 to 12).

*Excluding positions within the English and French sections of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Second-language training

• That the government establish an intensive second-language training program tailored to the needs of senior public servants.

April 10, 2015

The Official Languages Act and municipal and regional services

Fredericton, April 10, 2015 – In New Brunswick, all cities and some municipalities and regional service commissions must offer services to the public in both official languages. These services are outlined in a new factsheet published by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

“Local government is closest to citizens,” said Commissioner Katherine d’Entremont. “The Legislative Assembly recognized this in extending the application of the Official Languages Act to portions of the local government sector in 2002.”

Fredericton, April 10, 2015 – In New Brunswick, all cities and some municipalities and regional service commissions must offer services to the public in both official languages. These services are outlined in a new factsheet published by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

“Local government is closest to citizens,” said Commissioner Katherine d’Entremont. “The Legislative Assembly recognized this in extending the application of the Official Languages Act to portions of the local government sector in 2002.”

In addition to the eight cities, municipalities whose official language minority population represents at least 20% of its total population must also provide services in English and French. This is the case of the municipalities of Atholville, Charlo, Dalhousie, Eel River Crossing, Rexton, Richibucto, Shediac, and Tide Head.

The range of services that must be provided in both languages is varied and includes among others: public notices, responses to inquiries, websites, traffic signs, licensing services, and municipal by-laws.

In addition, 8 of the 12 regional service commissions have language obligations under the Official Languages Act.

“The municipalities and commissions with language obligations must take the necessary measures to inform citizens that their services are available in English and French,” said Ms. d’Entremont. “An active offer of service in both languages is at the heart of quality services.”

This new factsheet on language rights is the fifth in a series produced by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick. This initiative ties in with the Commissioner’s mandate to promote the advancement of both official languages. The initiative also seeks to follow up on the 2013 Report of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act in which the Committee expressed hope that “the Commissioner would make greater efforts to improve public awareness of [her] role.”

To consult and print these factsheets, visit the website of the Office of the Commissioner at: http://www.officiallanguages.nb.ca/ (My Rights section)

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.

March 25, 2015

Two Languages: It’s Good for Business

Fredericton, March 25, 2015 – Thanks to its two official languages, New Brunswick has a customer contact centre and back office industry generating $1.4 billion worth of export revenue annually for the province. It is estimated that this sector generates more than 15 000 jobs. In addition, both unilingual and bilingual New Brunswickers benefit from this economic activity given that the firms attracted to the province by the bilingual workforce have created two unilingual jobs for every bilingual job.

Those are some of the findings of a study co-authored by economist Pierre-Marcel Desjardins and economic development specialist David Campbell and commissioned by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.

“Our bilingual advantage doesn’t only benefit bilingual people in the workforce” said the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, Katherine d’Entremont. “The study clearly demonstrates that unilingual people benefit even more. Our bilingual advantage is also due to the presence of our two linguistic communities which allows our province to multiply opportunities for commercial exchange.”

The report highlights many economic benefits of the province’s bilingual character and workforce. The ability to serve customers across the country in both languages is cited as a key factor when national finance and insurance firms decide to locate or expand their operations in New Brunswick. Bilingualism has also led to the development of a vibrant language industry in the province. It also allows the Province to be able to attract post-secondary students from other provinces and countries to study in the province in either English or French.

“Our two languages are an important economic asset in a global economy”, said Katherine d’Entremont. The fundamental question that led us to commission this study last summer was: “How can we better understand the contribution of bilingualism to the New Brunswick economy as well as it’s untapped potential for economic growth?’’ 

The study proposes six concrete ways in which the province could leverage its bilingual workforce for future economic growth. Among those, the authors of the study suggest addressing the changing nature of customer contact centers, expanding educational services export revenue and promoting entrepreneurial activity at the intersection of language industries and technology.

“Government is looking for ways to grow and diversify its economy” said d’Entremont. By publishing this study, we’re making valuable information available to both government and private sector stakeholders working in economic development.” 

The authors recommend the creation of an industry/government council with a mandate of identifying concrete measures to increase the economic benefits of bilingualism. This council would contribute to the development of industries for which bilingualism is a key factor. The council would also be responsible for a strategy to support businesses interested in enhancing the province's competitive advantage generated by bilingualism.

“New Brunswick is uniquely positioned to take greater advantage of its bilingualism asset” said d’Entremont. “The results of this study provide direction to government and the private sector to reach this goal”. 

-30-

The study was made possible through financial support provided by the New Brunswick Regional Development Corporation.

To consult the study, visit the website of the Office of the Commissioner at: http://www.officiallanguages.nb.ca/ (Publications section)

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.

 

 

February 25, 2015

Justice and language rights

Fredericton, February 25, 2015 – English and French are the official languages of the New Brunswick courts. What does this actually mean for New Brunswickers? A new factsheet from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick answers that question.

In New Brunswick, all individuals have the right to use English or French before a court. “Whether an Anglophone has to appear in Caraquet or a Francophone has to appear before a court in Woodstock, every person has the right to use the official language of his or her choice before the provincial courts,” explained Commissioner Katherine d’Entremont. “Moreover, the Official Languages Act (OLA) stipulates that no person shall be placed at a disadvantage by reason of his or her choice of language.”

It should be noted that the word “court” applies not only to courts of law, but also to administrative tribunals.

“Administrative tribunals exist in fields as diverse as property assessment, workers’ compensation, energy, and human rights,” added d’Entremont. “All administrative tribunals must hear citizens in the official language of their choice.” The factsheet also points out that the administrative tribunal’s judge must have the ability to understand, without the aid of an interpreter, the language chosen by the parties in a case.

“The bilingual capacity of our courts is essential to guarantee that all New Brunswickers have access to the justice system in the official language of their choice,” said d’Entremont.

In addition to the courts, other organizations connected with the justice system have linguistic obligations. The factsheet gives as examples Sheriff services and the New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission.

The factsheet also addresses the importance of the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick. We are reminded that the Premier of New Brunswick is responsible for the administration of the OLA. Moreover, in the event of a conflict between the OLA and another provincial act, the OLA prevails. For anyone who is interested in the evolution of language rights in New Brunswick, the factsheet also presents a few historical milestones.

“Language rights are fundamental rights,” stated d’Entremont. “That is why they enjoy increased protection, notably through their inclusion in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

This new factsheet on language rights is the fourth in a series produced by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick. This initiative ties in with the Commissioner’s mandate to promote the advancement of both official languages. The initiative also seeks to follow up on the 2013 Report of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act in which the Committee expressed hope that “the Commissioner would make greater efforts to improve public awareness of [her] role.”

To consult and print these factsheets, visit the website of the Office of the Commissioner at: http://www.officiallanguages.nb.ca/ (My Rights section)

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.

January 21, 2015

Linguistic obligations of policing services explained

Fredericton, January 21, 2015 – The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is releasing today on its website a new factsheet on the linguistic obligations of police forces in the province.

“All police forces in New Brunswick, whether municipal, regional, or the RCMP, are required to serve citizens in the official language of their choice,” reminded Commissioner Katherine d’Entremont.

The Official Languages Act requires that police officers inform the public of their right to receive services in English or French.

“Communications with a police department are generally of an official nature, and as such, must be clear and unambiguous,” the Commissioner said. “That’s why police officers must inform people at first contact that they may use the official language of their choice.”

The factsheet states that, if a police officer is unable to serve citizens in the official language of their choice, the officer must take whatever measures are necessary, within a reasonable time, to ensure compliance with the choice made.

“The importance of the linguistic obligations of the police forces in New Brunswick cannot be overstated” added the Commissioner. “Decisions by the Supreme Court and other courts have clearly established the fundamental character of these obligations”.

Those who feel their language rights have not been respected may submit a complaint to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. “The investigations we carry out and the recommendations we make to government help to improve the delivery of bilingual services in our province,” the Commissioner said.

This new factsheet is the third in a series on language rights produced by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. More factsheets will be published over the next few months.

This initiative ties in with the Commissioner’s mandate to promote the advancement of both official languages. It also seeks to follow up on the 2013 Report of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act in which the Committee expressed hope that “the Commissioner would make greater efforts to improve public awareness of [her] role.”

To consult and print out the first three factsheets on language rights, visit the website of the Office of the Commissioner at http://www.officiallanguages.nb.ca (My Rights section).

For further 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.

December 18, 2014

Language rights in health care

Fredericton, December 18, 2014 – Language rights as they relate to health care are the subject of a new factsheet released today by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick.  

“Access to care in the official language of one’s choice is not just a constitutional right,” said Official Languages Commissioner Katherine d'Entremont. “It is one of the most important factors in the quality of care. In fact, communication is at the heart of the helping relationship between the health professional and the patient.”

Ms. d’Entremont pointed out that, when people are ill, they feel vulnerable and may be reluctant to make use of a service in their language if it is not apparent that it is available. “To prevent such a situation, the Official Languages Act requires staff to make an active offer of service in English and in French,” the Commissioner explained. “Through the active offer of service, patients are not burdened with having to ask for service in their language; staff have the responsibility to offer it.” It should be noted that the official language chosen by the patient must be respected throughout the continuum of care.

The factsheet gives many examples of health organizations that have obligations under the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick. One of them is Ambulance New Brunswick. With that in mind, the Commissioner explained that a language barrier can have serious consequences in an emergency. “In medical emergencies, people often have trouble expressing themselves clearly. When a language barrier is added to the mix, clear communication, which is essential to a patient’s health, is compromised. This in turn compounds feelings of anxiety and panic.’’

The factsheet also specifies that the two health networks, i.e. Horizon and Vitalité, are required to provide all of their services in both official languages. “The fact that each network has its own internal language of operation does not have any bearing on their requirement to provide care to the public in both English and French throughout New Brunswick,” said the Commissioner.

This is the second in a series of factsheets on linguistic rights produced by the Office of the Commissioner. Others will be released over the next few months.

This initiative ties in with the Commissioner’s mandate to promote the advancement of both official languages. It also aims to follow up on the 2013 Report of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act in which the Committee expressed hope that “the Commissioner make greater efforts to improve public awareness of [her] role.”

The public can consult and print the first two factsheets on language rights by going to the website of the Office of the Commissioner at www.officiallanguages.nb.ca.

For more information, please contact:

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 Legislative Assembly. 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.

November 20, 2014

Language rights of New Brunswickers explained

Fredericton, November 20, 2014 – The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick is releasing today on its website the first in a series of factsheets on the language rights of New Brunswickers. This first factsheet describes the linguistic obligations that provincial departments and Crown corporations have towards citizens.

“Language rights are fundamental rights,” said Official Languages Commissioner Katherine d’Entremont. “Citizens must know exactly what their language rights are in order to be able to exercise them fully. The goal of this series of factsheets is to explain these rights in plain language, while highlighting other aspects of official languages.”

This first factsheet points out that public bodies must actively offer their services in both English and French.

“The active offer of service means that, from the moment of first contact, the employee has the obligation to inform the citizen that services are available in both languages,” the Commissioner said. “Therefore, it is not up to citizens to request service in their language; rather, employees must offer it to them. Once a citizen has chosen a language, that choice must be respected throughout the chain of service.”

The Commissioner indicated that an employee should never attempt to determine if a citizen speaks the other official language once the citizen has expressed his or her language of choice. “The language of choice lies with the citizen, not with the employee.”

The first factsheet further states that citizens’ language rights apply to all types of communication. Commissioner d’Entremont therefore notes that public bodies must meet their obligations fully when using social media. “For example, all tweets intended for the general public must be posted simultaneously in both languages. The status of equality of both official languages and both official linguistic communities requires that all postings and publications intended for the general public be made available in English and French at the same time.”

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages will release other factsheets on the language rights of New Brunswickers over the next few months. This initiative falls within the Commissioner’s mandate of promoting the advancement of both official languages. It also aims to follow-up on the 2013 Report of the Select Committee on the Revision of the Official Languages Act in which “the committee would like the Commissioner to make greater efforts to improve public awareness of [her] role.”

“The Committee’s report stresses that there must be greater public awareness of the province’s bilingual status,” Katherine d’Entremont said. “This series of factsheets will be helpful in achieving this goal.”

The first factsheet can be viewed and printed by visiting the Office of the Commissioner’s website at www.officiallanguages.nb.ca. 

For more information, please contact:

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 Legislative Assembly. Her role is to protect the language rights of members of the Anglophone and Francophone communities and to promote the advancement of both official languages.

October 30, 2014

Language commissioners urge governments to increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec

Ottawa – Fredericton – Toronto – OCTOBER 30, 2014 – The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser, his New Brunswick counterpart Katherine d’Entremont and Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau are pressing the federal and provincial governments to step up their efforts to increase immigration in Francophone communities outside Quebec. They are also pushing for the adoption of four guiding principles to ensure immigration contributes to the development and vitality of these communities.

“Immigration is crucial to the vitality, indeed the future, of official language minority communities,” said Commissioner Fraser. To benefit from immigration, Francophone and Acadian communities must attract immigrants in proportions equal to or greater than their demographic weight. But these communities are the big losers in terms of immigration, because only 2% of immigrants who settle outside Quebec are French-speaking, whereas these communities make up 4% of the population, or approximately 1 million Canadians. The commissioners see this situation as worrisome.

The federal government is currently making several changes to Canada’s immigration system, focusing on the economy, quicker labour market entry and recruitment of immigrants with skills in demand in Canada. “We’ve reached a turning point. In the past year, the federal government has renewed its commitment to addressing the shortage of Francophone immigrants. Meanwhile, we are just months away from one of the most substantial immigration system reforms in our history. Right now, we have an opportunity to transform immigration into a truly positive force for Francophone communities outside Quebec. We cannot let it pass us by,” explained Commissioner Fraser.

The three language ombudsmen believe that the federal immigration framework should be tailored to the specific objectives of the provincial and territorial governments for the selection, recruitment, integration and retention of Francophone immigrants. Such measures would help address the different socioeconomic contexts of minority communities.

“Ontario has led the way by setting a 5% target for Francophone immigration. The government must now make sure it has all the necessary tools, including a pan-governmental-community approach and cooperation with the federal government, to reach that target and address the needs and priorities of not only Francophone newcomers, but also those of the host communities in Ontario,” said Commissioner Boileau.

Commissioner of Official Languages Katherine d’Entremont welcomes the Government of New Brunswick’s commitment to ensuring 33% of the province’s immigrants are Francophone by 2020. Commissioner d’Entremont urges the two levels of government to work closely together to preserve the vitality of the province’s Francophone community. “Immigration is a shared jurisdiction. For Francophones in New Brunswick to maintain their 33% share of the population, the federal and provincial governments must adopt a long-term concerted approach.”

While acknowledging government efforts with regard to Francophone immigration in Canada, the commissioners feel that results have been slow in coming. Consequently, they believe it is imperative that the following four guiding principles be adopted:

  • Immigration must help maintain, and even increase, the demographic weight of Francophone minority communities in Canada.
  • Federal and provincial immigration policies and programs must be designed and tailored to address Francophone immigrant recruitment, integration and retention needs specific to the different contexts of Francophone minority communities across Canada.
  • Strong federal-provincial-community partnerships, long-term strategies for the selection, recruitment, welcoming, education, integration and retention of immigrants, and sufficient resources are needed to ensure that immigration supports the development and vitality of Francophone minority communities.
  • Governments must develop an evaluation and accountability framework to measure progress achieved and ensure attainment of immigration objectives in Francophone minority communities.

In 2012 and 2013, the three commissioners signed agreements to, among other things, increase cooperation and discussion among their respective offices. It is in that spirit that the three commissioners are tackling the immigration issue.

 

– 30 –

Patricia Parent
Manager
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
Telephone: 506-444-4229
Toll-free: 1-888-651-6444 (in NB only)
E-mail: patricia.parent@gnb.ca
www.officiallanguages.nb.ca

Nelson Kalil
Manager, Strategic Communications
and Media Relations
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Telephone: 819-420-4714
Cellular: 613-324-0999
Toll-free: 1-877-996-6368
E-mail: nelson.kalil@clo-ocol.gc.ca
Follow us @OCOLCanada

Kim Bergeron
Public Relations and Communications Officer
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
Telephone: 416-314-8247
Toll-free: 1-866-246-5262
E-mail: kim.bergeron@ontario.ca
Follow us @FLSCOntario

June 17, 2014

2013-2014 Annual Report

Commissioner of Official Languages Proposes Measures for Improving Delivery of Bilingual Services

Fredericton, June 17, 2014 – In her first annual report, the Commissioner of Official Languages, Katherine d’Entremont, presents five recommendations for improving the delivery of government services in both official languages. Specifically, d’Entremont proposes that the required levels of second-language proficiency for bilingual positions be more clearly defined and better monitored. 

“Over the past few months, we have examined how the provincial government recruits and manages its human resources in order to deliver bilingual services to the public," the Commissioner said. “Our study points to serious deficiencies with respect to the identification of bilingual staffing needs, required levels of second-language proficiency, and the effectiveness of language training for civil servants. These deficiencies are often the cause of the complaints we receive and must be addressed.”

To provide the public with services in both languages, provincial departments form teams made up of unilingual and bilingual employees.  However, according to the Commissioner’s study, the levels of second-language proficiency of bilingual employees are not clearly defined or monitored. “This situation compromises service quality," the Commissioner said. “The government must show more rigour.” The Commissioner’s study notes as well that the required level of second-language proficiency for a bilingual position is not indicated in the job posting.  “How can a candidate determine whether he or she is qualified for a bilingual position without knowing the proficiency level required?” asks the Commissioner.    

Official Languages and Health

The Commissioner’s annual report addresses a number of issues, including immigration, changes to the Official Languages Act, and access to health care in both official languages. The Commissioner comments on the results of the most recent acute care survey carried out by the New Brunswick Health Council.

Ms. d’Entremont believes that the two health authorities must step up their efforts in order to fully meet their linguistic obligations. The Commissioner is very concerned about the situation at hospitals in the Horizon Health Network. “In some facilities, access to health care in French is the exception rather that the rule,” the Commissioner explained. “This situation requires robust corrective measures.” 

Government Plan on Official Languages

One chapter of the Commissioner’s annual report examines the Government Plan on Official Languages. Commissioner d’Entremont is disappointed with the lack of tangible results arising from this initiative. “The plan outlines important measures for ensuring better compliance with the Official Languages Act,” the Commissioner explained. “Yet one year following the initial expiration of the plan, the provincial government has very few results to present. There is reason to question the importance government attaches to this plan.”  

Commissioner highlights inspiring practices

In addition, Katherine d’Entremont pays tribute to public servants and groups of employees who embody excellence in official bilingualism. The award recipients are as follows:

• Judge Yvette Finn
• Teachers’ collective agreement negotiating team
• Staff of the Policy and Planning Division of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
• Staff of the Financial and Consumer Services Commission
• Guylaine Godin, New Brunswick Internal Services Agency
• Cécile LePage and employees of the Policy and Planning Branch of the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture

“I congratulate these champions in the promotion of our two official languages, and I hope that by sharing their stories, they will be an inspiration for all public servants, our elected officials, and the general public,” said Commissioner d'Entremont.

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The 2013-2014 annual report is available online.

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

April 24, 2014

Ambulance New Brunswick – New Brunswick’s Official Languages Commissioner urges the Department of Health to step in to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act

Fredericton, April 24, 2014 – New Brunswick’s Official Languages Commissioner, Katherine d’Entremont, is urging the Department of Health to assume its responsibilities and require that Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB) comply with the Official Languages Act. That is the first recommendation made by the Commissioner in an investigation report following an incident which occurred in September 2013. Ambulance NB has acknowledged that neither of the two ambulance attendants dispatched to assist a Dieppe resident was able to speak French.

“This is not only a matter of linguistic rights,” said the Commissioner. In an emergency situation, communication must be clear, concise and timely. Attempting to assist a person without speaking his or her language may have life-threatening consequences. Yet, Ambulance NB has continued to use unilingual ambulance crews. This is unacceptable.”

Commissioner d’Entremont explained that the contract between Ambulance NB and the New Brunswick government contains a provision on compliance with the Official Languages Act. “My message to the government is clear: take the necessary measures to ensure compliance with this provision of the contract.”

Katherine d’Entremont met recently with senior management of the Department of Health to present the investigation report. She explained that the Commissioner’s office has written six investigation reports on Ambulance NB over the past 7 years. “The situation needs to change. The Department of Health must take action to ensure that corrective measures are taken.”

In a 2008 investigation report by the Commissioner’s Office concerning Ambulance NB, the Department of Health confirmed that it requires that there be at least one person able to speak both official languages within each paramedic team. In her current investigation report, Katherine d’Entremont recommends that ANB standardize the level of language proficiency required for bilingual ambulance attendants. “The level of bilingualism required by Ambulance NB varies from region to region,” the Commissioner explained. “It is inconceivable that ANB could fulfill its linguistic obligations with such a system. Ambulance NB must provide services of equal quality in both official languages throughout the province.”

The Commissioner noted that the Premier is responsible for the administration of the Official Languages Act and expects he will ask his Minister of Health to intervene in this matter.

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The investigation report about Ambulance New Brunswick is available on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages’ website.

Note

Under section 43(17.2) of the Official Languages of Act of New Brunswick, “if the Commissioner considers it to be in the public interest, the Commissioner may publish a report on the results of his or her investigation and on any recommendations made as a result of the investigation.”

It should be noted that the complainant’s name does not appear in the investigation report in order to preserve that person’s anonymity. The complainant was informed that this investigation report would be published.

Information

Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506-444-4229
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca

April 3, 2014

Immigration to New Brunswick – Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick urges the provincial and federal governments to protect the vitality of the Francophone community

Fredericton, April 3, 2014 – New Brunswick’s Official Languages Commissioner, Katherine d’Entremont, is urging the governments of New Brunswick and Canada to adopt a framework agreement on Francophone immigration in order to maintain the demographic weight of this province’s Francophone community.

Katherine d’Entremont noted that recent data show that the Francophone community of New Brunswick, which makes up about one-third of the provincial population, has not benefitted from immigration as much as the Anglophone community.

“The Canadian Constitution is clear: the Francophone community and the Anglophone community of New Brunswick have equality of status,” said the Commissioner. “The provincial and federal governments therefore have to take the measures necessary to ensure that their immigration policies, programs and practices do not disadvantage one community over the other.”

An analysis1 by the Canadian Institute for Research on Linguistic Minorities shows that the vast majority (81.1%) of recent immigrants to New Brunswick reported English as their first official language spoken in 2011 whereas only 11.7% reported French. Moreover, the results of the New Brunswick Nominee Program – a program under which the provincial government selects immigration candidates – are no more impressive. In 2012-2013, the percentage of French-speaking and bilingual (English and French) candidates was only 12.2% of all candidates welcomed to the province.

“These results clearly demonstrate that efforts have to be stepped up to correct an imbalance that, in the long term, compromises the demographic weight of the Francophone community in the only officially bilingual province,” said d’Entremont.

The Commissioner is pleased with the intent of the provincial government to release a new strategy on Francophone immigration in the near future. However, she believes this new strategy needs to be based on a close partnership between the two levels of government.

“To meet the challenge of Francophone immigration to New Brunswick, a framework agreement between the two levels of government must be established”, said d’Entremont. “First and foremost, this agreement would affirm New Brunswick’s unique linguistic status. It would establish that immigration programs and practices of both levels of government must maintain the demographic weight of the two official linguistic communities. It would also affirm the duty to compensate for past imbalances in immigration rates.”

Commissioner d’Entremont considers immigration to be a fundamental pillar for the future of New Brunswick and that a framework must be clearly defined to ensure that immigration benefits both official linguistic communities equally.

“Over the past few years, Francophone immigration to New Brunswick has been a topic of interest to our two levels of government,” said d’Entremont. “It must now become a priority”.

1 Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, 2012-2013 Annual Report, page 27

For more information

Hugues Beaulieu
Director of Public Affairs and Research
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick
506 444-4229
Hugues.Beaulieu@gnb.ca