Audit of Official Languages
June 2012

2. Findings, recommendations and management responses

2.1 Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Key Finding:

There is a lack of consistent understanding across the organization of official languages-related roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

Audit Criterion:

Official Languages at the Department of Justice are supported by an adequate organizational structure. [Audit criterion 3.0]

2.1.1 Roles, responsibilities and accountabilities pertaining to official languages are assigned to specific individuals, and three organizational units within the Department of Justice (i.e. t he 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) are responsible for different parts of the Official Languages Act; however, roles, responsibilities and accountabilities with regard to official languages are not consistently understood across the Department.

2.1.2 Many staff members mentioned that they were not aware of who the Official Languages Champion, Co-Champion and Sectoral Champions were. Some were also not aware of whom to contact in order to discuss official languages-related issues, challenges or complaints.

2.1.3 Although the new Official Languages Policy provides information on roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, many staff members indicated that they are not yet aware of its contents. The Department’s staff members who are co-located with clients (i.e. in legal services units) have indicated that they are not always exposed to the official languages-related awareness campaigns.

2.1.4 There is a risk that arising issues will not be brought to the attention of the appropriate individuals, particularly those co-located with clients; and that mitigating measures will not be monitored, therefore impacting the Department’s ability to respond to its official languages-related obligations.

Recommendation and Management Response

2.1.5 It is recommended that the Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate undertake additional efforts to communicate the distinctive official languages-related roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit in relation to those of the other areas within the Department (i.e. the Office of La Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism; and the Official Languages Law Section). (Medium Risk) Footnote 2

Agreed. The Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate (HRPDD) agrees to:

  • Offer new employee NCR orientation sessions, which include an OL component to highlight and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the various units
  • Make further updates to OL site on HR and You ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined
  • Work in collaboration with the other units to ensure that their websites provide a link to the OL site contained within HR and You (i.e. cross referencing with the sites from the Office of La Francophonie, Justice in OL and Legal Dualism and the OL Law Section) and that their sites reflect the roles as outlined in the new OL Framework
  • Develop and disseminate a communiqué to all delegated managers detailing the roles with in the new OL Framework
  • Raise awareness through ad hoc attendance at Portfolio/Branch/Sector management team meetings
  • Ensure that OL Champions Network clarify roles within their respective organizations.

2.2  Mechanism to Share Issues Internally

Key Finding:

There are no formal internal processes for sharing official languages-related issues and trends with the Network of Sectoral and Regional Official Languages Champions.

Audit Criteria:

Official Languages at the Department of Justice are supported by an adequate organizational structure. [Audit Criterion 3.0]; and

The Department of Justice’s Official Languages are supported by adequate leadership and communication. [Audit Criterion 5.0]

2.2.1 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.

2.2.2 The Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit is responsible for managing all official languages complaints investigated by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. A process to share issues and trends arising from these complaints with the Network was not developed as it had not been identified as a requirement.

2.2.3 In the absence of information on issues and trends in relation to official languages complaints, there is a risk that members of the Network will not have a complete picture of official languages-related matters. This could reduce the ability of the Network to effectively raise awareness of Official Languages within the Department.

Recommendation and Management Response

2.2.4 It is recommended that the Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate formalize and communicate an internal process to ensure that issues (e.g. number of complaints, trends) arising from complaints received through the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, are brought to the attention of the Network of Sectoral and Regional Official Languages Champions. (Low Risk)

Agreed. The Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate agrees that there is a need to ensure that official languages issues are effectively addressed internally and that there is a scope for reporting to the OL Sectoral Champions Network globally on issues relating to official languages given the role these champions play in raising awareness of OL in the workplace. The Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate will accordingly formalize and communicate internal processes to ensure that aggregate information about official languages-related matters, are brought to the attention of the OL Sectoral Champions. Since the conduct of the audit, a new OL Steering Committee has been put in place and serves as a forum to discuss OL issues and trends.

2.3 Resources

Key Finding:

There is a lack of alignment between the current organizational structure and service level expectations.

Audit Criterion:

Official Languages at the Department of Justice are supported by an adequate organizational structure. [Audit Criteria 3.0]

2.3.1 Of the four positions currently included in the organizational structure of the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit, three have been vacant for some time, and one has been recently staffed. This situation limits the Unit’s ability to provide the expected level of service. As such, it was noted that certain monitoring activities (e.g. preparation and review of Demographic Reports by portfolios, review of linguistic competencies of staff members) are not being performed on a regular basis.

2.3.2 High turnover rates, along with the Department’s efforts to reduce overall spending and uncertainty over next year’s budget allocations have resulted in challenges to staff recruitment and retention.

2.3.3 Inappropriate allocation of resources to the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit places stress on current staff members and could negatively impact implementation of the Official Languages Policy across the organization. It could also have an impact on the Department’s ability to perform internal monitoring activities and comply with its official languages-related obligations.

Recommendation and Management Response

2.3.4. It is recommended that the Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate formally review the current organizational structure of the Corporate Staffing, Official Languages and Recognition Unit in light of current requirements and expected level of service to ensure that resources have been allocated appropriately. (Low Risk)

Agreed. The Director General, Human Resources and Professional Development Directorate will review the current organizational structure of the OL unit to ensure that it is adequately resourced and that expected levels of service can be met. Some changes have already been made. The work description for the OL Advisor has been reviewed and is now classified at the AS-5 level rather than PE. This has allowed the Department to have access to a much broader pool of candidates given that the majority of OL coordinators in government are classified in the AS Group. In addition, 50% of another resource is now dedicated to providing support to the OL Advisor and 50% of the Manager position. Further consideration will be given in the context of changes to internal services as appropriate.

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