Audit of Official Languages
June 2012

Executive summary

Audit Opinion/Overall Conclusion

Overall, we found that the Department has an effective management framework in place to govern the activities of the official languages group in the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit, and to comply with the requirements of the Official Languages Act. This framework could be strengthened by clarifying roles, responsibilities and accountabilities; formalizing processes for sharing official languages-related issues and trends with the Network of Sectoral and Regional Official Languages Champions; and ensuring that resources have been allocated appropriately within the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit.

In the Department of Justice, the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit of the Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate is responsible for applying Parts IV, V, VI, and section 91 of Part XI of the Official Languages Act. The unit’s mandate includes developing policies, directives, guidelines, strategies, programs, plans, and tools pertaining to official languages. It provides departmental staff with advice and guidance on all official languages matters covered by these parts of the Act.The unit also promotes the Official Languages Program, monitors related programs and policies, and responds to complaints filed with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

The Department of Justice has two other organizational units that address the Official Languages Act. The Office of La Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism fulfills the Department’s responsibilities with respect to Part VII of the Act. In addition, the Department has an Official Languages Law Section that supports the Government of Canada with respect to the Act. While these two organizations were interviewed in the context of coordination of official languages programs within the Department, they were not included in the scope of this audit.

This audit was identified in the 2011-12 Risk-Based Audit Plan. The overall objective of the audit was to provide assurance that the management framework in place to govern the activities of the official languages group in the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit is effective and that the Department is complying with the requirements of the Official Languages Act.

Roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for official languages are assigned to three organizational units (i.e. the Office of La Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism; the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit; and the Official Languages Law Section) within the Department of Justice. Although the roles are clearly identified in the departmental Official Languages (OL) Policy, they are not consistently understood across the Department.

The Network of Sectoral and Regional Official Languages Champions of the Department of Justice (the Network) includes representatives from each portfolio, sector and division in the National Capital Region and from the regions. The objective of the Network and its members is to support the Departmental Champion and Co-Champion in fulfilling their mandate to provide leadership within their portfolio, sector, division or region by creating a bilingual culture founded on the spirit and letter of the Official Languages Act. However, issues and trends arising from complaints received through the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, while brought to the attention of the Departmental Champions are not formally shared with the Network.

Finally, it was noted that the current organizational structure of the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit needs to be formally reviewed to ensure that resources have been allocated appropriately.

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