Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 153, Number 2: Regulations Amending the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations

January 12, 2019

Statutory authority

Official Languages Act

Sponsoring department

Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

  • Issues: The Official Languages (Communication with and Services to the Public) Regulations (hereinafter the Regulations) were established in 1991 and apply to all institutions that are subject to the Official Languages Act (the Act), including departments and Crown corporations. The Regulations specify the circumstances under which a federal institution must communicate with the public and offer services in English, French or in both official languages. In particular, based on language data from the most recent decennial census of the population, they determine the criteria for estimating whether there is “significant demand” for services in the minority official language (that is, English in Quebec and French outside of Quebec) to justify delivering bilingual services in federal offices. The Regulations have not been thoroughly reviewed since they were adopted. To address a number of issues and concerns that have arisen over the years, on November 17, 2016, the Government of Canada announced that it would conduct a review of the Regulations.
  • Description: The purpose of the review of the Regulations is to propose amendments that address sociodemographic and technological changes that have occurred over the last 25 years, as well as to address recommendations made by Canadians and various stakeholders. In particular, the amendments include: (1) a new and more inclusive calculation method for estimating significant demand for service in the minority official language; (2) a new criterion for determining the linguistic designation of federal offices based on “vitality”; (3) the integration of new technologies; (4) improvements in the availability of bilingual services in the transportation sector; (5) a modernization of the list of key services; and (6) a requirement for a comprehensive analysis of the Regulations every 10 years.
  • Cost-benefit statement: The proposed changes would result in an estimated $71.1 million in costs (in 2018 dollars) over a 15-year period, based on a phased-in implementation approach. According to the Annual Report on Official Languages for fiscal year 2016 to 2017 prepared by the President of the Treasury Board of Canada, of the 181 140 positions in the core public administration, there were 77 889 bilingual positions. Of these 77 889 bilingual positions, 42 194 were designated bilingual in order to provide services to the public. For bilingual positions that were occupied, 96% or 40 500 employees in these positions met the language requirements. footnote 1 Large institutions with more than 500 employees stated that they “nearly always” or “very often” have the resources they need to meet their language obligations relating to communications with and services to the public. In recent years, the number of bilingual employees (45%) has exceeded the number of bilingual positions (43%). footnote 2 Building on this, the costing model considered that incremental costs are mainly related to language training, salaries and bilingual bonuses. As a result, the 34 federal institutions impacted by the proposed changes should be in a position to absorb an additional cost averaging around $7.8 million per year in present value, and within their existing resource levels. There are substantial qualitative benefits associated with the proposed changes. A few benefits were quantified, yet not monetized.
  • “One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The proposed changes only impact federal institutions and would result in no new administrative burden for businesses, as defined by the Red Tape Reduction Act. Therefore, the “One-for-One” Rule does not apply. The proposed changes might be thought to impose a new compliance burden on Canada Post franchisees; however, these outlets are affiliates of Canada Post, which is not a small business. The small business lens does not apply because the proposed changes do not impact small businesses, as defined by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) Policy on Limiting Regulatory Burden on Business.

Background

Not all federal offices must communicate with the public and provide services in both official languages. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) and the Act, whose quasi-constitutional status has been recognized by Canadian courts, provide that the public has the right to receive services in the official language of its choice when it is reasonable based on the nature of the office or where there is a significant demand for communications and services in that language. The Regulations then specify those circumstances.

Several changes have occurred since the Regulations were adopted in 1991, including an increase in the diversity of Canadian society, changes in the delivery of services by federal institutions and technological advances, such as the Internet. Several stakeholders in Canadian society, such as minority official language communities, Parliamentarians and the Commissioner of Official Languages (the Commissioner), have been proponents for change and have advocated for comprehensive revisions to the Regulations, particularly so that they reflect changes in Canadian demographics and society. To this end, various Senators have introduced or sponsored bills that proposed amendments to the Act. For example, Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (communications with and services to the public), proposed, among other things, a new calculation method and more bilingual services to travellers. Moreover, the Commissioner tabled a special report in Parliament in May 2018 on the need for a review of the Regulations.

In addition, Statistics Canada revealed that despite an upward trend in the number of Francophones outside Quebec, their proportion may decrease between 2011 and 2036. The method that is currently used to estimate whether there is a significant demand for bilingual services uses a combination of the number of persons whose first official language spoken is the minority official language as well as its percentage of the population. Therefore, as a result of a relative decline in the proportion of Francophones, a local federal office located outside of Quebec may no longer be required to serve the public in both official languages, even though the actual number of Francophones there has been stable or has increased.

The transportation sector has also seen an annual increase in the number of passengers. According to the current Regulations, a large number of travellers implies potential demand. For example, any airport where the number of annual passengers is at least one million is presumed to have a sufficiently high number of travellers that would choose to be served in the minority official language to be automatically designated bilingual. According to data published in The Daily, a Statistics Canada publication, the number of passengers boarding and disembarking at Canadian airports has been steadily increasing since 2009. The report Rail Trends 2017 by the Railway Association of Canada shows an increase in travellers since 2007.

These factors have led to the need to modernize the Regulations to ensure that they properly reflect the current operating environment. The existing Regulations consist of three sets of rules:

  1. There are rules pertaining to the nature of the office. These rules specify the cases where the type of services provided or the location of the office is such that the office should be designated bilingual, irrespective of demand, for example, when an office has a national or international mandate, like embassies and consulates.
  2. There are general rules that serve to define whether there is a significant demand for services in both official languages. They include various criteria, as well as numeric and percentages thresholds that are applied to census data on the size of the minority official language population. For example, in order to determine whether they must provide bilingual services, some Service Canada centres must verify whether the number and proportion of the official language minority that they serve meet the thresholds defined in the Regulations. In the case where a Service Canada office is the only one in a given locality, the Regulations provide that this office is bilingual if the official language minority community in that locality is at least 500 people representing 5% or more of the total population of the locality.

    Data on persons whose first official language spoken is the minority official language are obtained through a calculation method created by TBS in collaboration with Statistics Canada. This method allows for an estimate of the number of official language minority persons (that is, Anglophones in Quebec and Francophones outside of Quebec) in a given region according to the first official language spoken (FOLS) based on variables in the questionnaire of the decennial census of the population. The FOLS considers an individual’s knowledge of English and French, their mother tongue, and the language primarily spoken at home (in that order).

    Determining the first official language spoken (FOLS)

    FOLS table: first official language spoken - Image description below
    FOLS (first official language spoken)

    The image illustrates how the first official language spoken (FOLS) is determined based on variables in the questionnaire of the decennial census of the population. These variables include which official languages are known (French only, English only, English and French, or no knowledge of official languages), what the mother tongue is (French only, English only, English and French, or neither), and what language is primarily spoken at home (French only, English only, or English and French).


    In some circumstances, where an office does not meet the demographic thresholds, the general rules require offices to measure the volume of demand for service in the minority official language at that office to confirm whether there is significant demand. For example, a Farm Credit Canada office that has not reached a demographic threshold may be required to survey its clients to determine whether at least 5% of the demand for service at that office, over a period of one year, is in the minority official language. If so, it will serve the public in both official languages.
  3. The Regulations also include specific rules for offices where demographic data on the minority official language population is not the best indicator for estimating significant demand. Specific rules use criteria such as measurement of demand for service in both official languages and passenger traffic to determine the language obligation of offices. For example, an office that serves a specific and identifiable clientele, such as veterans, will survey its clientele on their preferred official language for service. The office will be designated bilingual if there is at least 5% of the demand in English and French over a period of one year. Airports and federal offices located in airports are designated bilingual if they receive more than one million travellers per year or if the volume of demand for services in English and French reaches the 5% threshold of total demand over one year.

The term “office” is defined as any place where a federal institution provides services or information to the public (including toll-free numbers, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police [RCMP] detachment or a train route). Offices located in the National Capital Region and central offices are automatically required to serve the public in both official languages.

Issues

On November 17, 2016, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Canadian Heritage announced that the Government of Canada would conduct a review of the Regulations. The main goal of this review is to update the Regulations to reflect Canada’s current sociodemographic and technological context as well as foreseeable trends.

During the review process, the following issues were identified as areas for improvement in the Regulations:

Objectives

The proposed amendments are part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to modernize the Regulations to better reflect the new realities of Canadian society and to significantly improve them without calling into question their foundations and overall structure.

Description

The proposed amendments are as follows:

  1. Replace the current calculation method for estimating significant demand when applying the general rules in the Regulations with a new and more inclusive calculation method (see Table 1).

    Following a number of simulations and estimates of various formulas, TBS, in collaboration with Statistics Canada, created a new and more inclusive method that allows for better representation of people who belong to several linguistic categories or who have bilingual or plurilingual characteristics or behaviours.

    The proposed method captures immigrants, immersion students and bilingual families who mainly or regularly speak a minority official language at home. It would result in an expansion of the minority official language population for the purpose of applying the Regulations.
    Table 1
    Proposed algorithm for estimating
    the demand in the minority official language
    (Example for minority official language outside of Quebec)
    Minority Official Language
    Step 1 Mother tongue
    Any mention of French French
    No mention of French Step 2
    Step 2 Language primarily spoken at home
    Any mention of French French
    No mention of French Step 3
    Step 3 Language regularly used at home
    Any mention of French French
    No mention of French Not included
  2. Modernize and expand the list of key services that are subject to the general rules in order to include the Business Development Bank of Canada, the regional economic development agencies footnote 3 and all services provided by Service Canada centres. This will allow more Canadians and, by extension, members of official language minority communities, to have access to those services in the official language of their choice.
  3. Designate as bilingual all airports and federal offices in airports and train stations located in provincial and territorial capitals that are subject to the Official Languages Act irrespective of the volume of demand or data on numbers of travellers. Since the number of travellers and the volume of demand already approaches or exceeds numeric thresholds, this will harmonize the availability of bilingual services across those capital railway stations and airports.
  4. Add services by videoconference to the list of services provided using technology that are subject to the Regulations.
  5. Add a provision to the general rules to protect the bilingual designation of certain offices for which the language obligations are based on demographic data and depend on the proportion of the official language minority population (5% threshold). According to this provision, an office would stay bilingual in cases where the official language minority population stayed the same or has increased although its proportion of the general population has declined.
  6. In the general rules, a qualitative criterion would be added, whereby an office will provide services in English and French when there is a minority official language school in its service area (service area includes all places, regions or provinces served by the office). An in-depth study in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage revealed that the presence of a school in an official language community is the best indicator of its vitality and dynamism and of the possible demand for federal services in the minority official language.
  7. In the general rules, a factor would be added requiring that “the recommendation obtained following consultations with impacted minority communities” be considered when the location of bilingual offices is chosen. This provision applies when the institution has several offices in the same region and that it must determine which of those offices must provide services in both official languages. This amendment will allow institutions, through the choice of their bilingual offices, to better reflect the sociodemographic realities of the communities that they serve.
  8. Standardize the language of service to the public in embassies and consulates by automatically designating as bilingual the offices of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in these locations. Embassies and consulates are already designated bilingual based on the nature of the office; however, this rule does not apply to IRCC offices in these locations. Therefore, IRCC offices that provide services to the public in embassies and consulates must currently measure the volume of demand for service in both official languages to determine their language obligations, which may result in a unilingual designation.
  9. Group together into a single set of provisions all immigration services and customs services provided by the Canada Border Services Agency at ports of entry into Canada. The current Regulations provide two sets of rules at ports of entry: one for immigration services and one for non-immigration services. These provisions reflect the division of responsibilities that existed at the time the Regulations were adopted, and is no longer accurate.
  10. Add a section providing for a comprehensive analysis of the Regulations 10 years after the adoption of the proposed amendments and every 10 years afterwards, along with the tabling of a report of the analysis in each House of Parliament on any of the first 30 days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The Regulations were made by the Governor in Council pursuant to the Act. They are required to implement the quasi-constitutional obligations relating to communications with and services to the public (Part IV of the Act). They define key concepts that are also in the Charter such as significant demand and specify the circumstances under which an office must provide services in English, French or both official languages with consideration for the specificity of official language minority communities, the diversity of federal services and their service delivery networks, both in Canada and abroad.

TBS assessed the possibility of addressing the various issues under review through a policy or directive. However, the changes required relate to the circumstances that are used to determine the linguistic designation of federal offices, while the Directive on the Implementation of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations (the Directive) and the Policy on Official Languages provide guidance on how to implement the Regulations and language obligations.

Benefits and costs

Qualitative benefits

The impact of the amendments includes, among other things, improving the availability of bilingual services in federal offices across the country, which contributes to the sustainability and strengthening of official language minority communities.

The amendments also reflect an increased use of English and French in Canadian society because they contribute to the “institutional completeness” of communities, a concept that has been considered by many researchers as a determinant of the vitality of official language minority communities. Better anticipation of potential demand contributes to the vitality of communities. The proposed calculation method estimates this potential demand by including more minority official language speakers who are likely to take advantage of federal services in the minority official language. In addition, by increasing the number of federal offices that provide services in both official languages, the Government of Canada is expanding the linguistic landscape of the country and is promoting the presence of minority official language “spaces.”

By providing language training to employees, the Government of Canada is contributing to the overall benefit of bilingualism in Canada as one of its biggest employers. As indicated by an exhaustive literature review related to economic advantages of bilingualism, employers in the public and private sectors were less likely to let go of bilingual workers than unilingual workers (2.35 times less likely). From the same study and using the 2006 Canadian Census data, employment rates were higher for French-English bilingual workers than for either English-only or French-only workers. Similarly, in the rest of Canada, the average annual income of individuals who spoke both official languages was approximately 15% higher than that of individuals who did not speak both official languages. footnote 4

An increase in bilingual job opportunities will provide a greater motivation for Canadians to improve their skills in their second official language, and create more opportunities for the public to communicate in both official languages. A review of the literature dedicated to the advantages of bilingualism suggests that there are benefits on many fronts for numerous Canadians, that is, for citizens and employers, as well as for various sectors of the economy and the country as a whole. For example, many studies have found that individuals who speak more than one language have cognitive benefits over and above being able to communicate in more than one language that can enhance their productivity. An increased ability to communicate with a wider population of the world also provides Canada and Canadians with a competitive advantage.

The amendments also specify that an office should be bilingual if there is a minority official language school in its service area. This helps to ensure the presence of bilingual federal services close to schools and makes more bilingual federal services available to youth and families who frequent these areas. This provision promotes awareness from a young age among minority official language students about the possibility of receiving services in the official language of their choice outside of a school setting, having a reinforcing impact on the skills these students acquire.

One of the proposed amendments is to automatically designate as bilingual all train stations and airports in provincial and territorial capitals. Currently, among the stations and airports in these locations that are subject to the Act, only the airport in Charlottetown, in Prince Edward Island, is not bilingual. By automatically designating these train stations and airports as bilingual, services will be available in both official languages to travellers in each Canadian province, regardless of the volume of the demand or the traffic in those locations.

The inclusion of services provided by video conference among the services that are automatically designated bilingual is one of the technological considerations that were made during the review of the Regulations. Initiatives were also undertaken to improve the availability of bilingual services to the public through technology, particularly in the regions. In addition, efforts will be made to take advantage of technologies in a way that better conveys information on the offer of bilingual services and the location of federal offices. This should give designated bilingual service providers the flexibility to deliver bilingual services in a more cost-effective manner.

Quantitative benefits

The proposed amendments take into account over 785 000 additional individuals who may wish to avail themselves of services in the minority official language and for whom this language may be their second or third language as shown in the table below.

The proposed calculation method, by being more inclusive of certain groups and speakers, captures and helps to serve potential clients (immigrants, children and youth from bilingual families, Indigenous populations, visible minorities, etc.) in the official language of their choice.

A more inclusive calculation method was used to estimate the number of individuals who would likely receive services in an official language of their choice in order to estimate the number of federal offices that would be designated bilingual.

According to the Regulations Management System (RMS) — an internal administrative database of TBS — as of March 31, 2017, there were 3 867 bilingual federal offices out of 11 330 federal offices and points of service. TBS uses the RMS to store and collect information and data as part of its coordination and monitoring of the application of the Regulations in federal offices. The costing model assumed that the total number of federal offices and points of service would remain unchanged until the year 2026 or 2027. By the end of year 2026 or in early 2027, federal institutions would have completed all four major stages of the phased-in implementation approach. The total number of federal offices is assumed to decrease slightly to 11 309 by 2033 to reflect a downward trend observed in the last 10 years due to office closures and business realignments. Based on the RMS, in 2007, there were 12 091 federal offices or service points compared to 11 330 in 2017.

In collaboration with Statistics Canada, TBS projected the application of the new rules on federal offices as of March 31, 2017, relying on, for the general rules, linguistic and demographic data from the 2011 Census. According to those simulations, some 615 currently unilingual offices could be required to provide their services in both official languages. Of those 615 offices, 68 are affected by the amendment to the Directive (moratorium). The moratorium came into effect in November 2016, when the review of the Regulations was announced. It was put in place to enable certain offices that were slated to become unilingual to keep their resources in place and continue to offer bilingual services during the review and until the new Regulations come into force. Therefore, 547 federal offices will be impacted by the proposed amendments, representing 4.8% of the total number of federal offices. Given that the moratorium remains in effect without proposed changes, these offices were excluded from the costing model.

Considering that some 615 federal offices and points of service will be newly designated bilingual, which will require on average three bilingual employees per office, and considering that the vast majority of those offices (485) are located outside of large urban centres, TBS estimates that the impact on federal employees is likely to benefit regional linguistic minorities.

Overall Portrait of the Minority Official Language Population and Federal Offices

Current Rules

New Rules

Difference

Significant demand in French outside of Quebec

1 007 565

1 371 590

364 025

Significant demand in English in Quebec

1 058 250

1 479 535

421 285

Number of federal offices

11 330

11 330

0

Number of federal offices designated bilingual

3 867

4 482

615

Costs

The estimates for implementing the new bilingual obligations include costs for second-language training for 1 224 employees, the salaries for the replacements of employees in training, the second-language competency evaluations and the costs of translating signage and publications. The costing model used internal sources such as the RMS and external data sources from Statistics Canada including input from several federal institutions. The same methodology and similar costs were used in 2016 by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer to conduct an exercise for Bill S-209 entitled An Act to amend the Official Languages Act (communications with and services to the public). footnote 5

To support a phased-in implementation approach that will spread over a 15-year period, it is anticipated that the 34 federal institutions impacted by the proposed changes will continue to ensure that bilingual positions are staffed appropriately so that services to the public can be offered in the official language of their choice.

According to the Annual Report on Official Languages for fiscal year 2016 to 2017, out of the 181 140 positions in the core public administration, there were 77 889 bilingual positions. Of the 77 889 bilingual positions, 42 194 were designated bilingual to provide services to the public. For bilingual positions that were occupied, 96.0% or 40 500 employees in these positions met the language requirements of their position. Building on this, the costing model assumed that impacted institutions should be in a position to absorb an additional cost averaging around $7.8 million per year in present value. Additionally, the adoption of the Public Service Modernization Act in 2003 made the head of an institution fully responsible for human resources management, including language training needs. Since 2003, and under the Directive on Official Languages for Communications and Services, the head of a federal institution must ensure that their institution

With respect to institutions’ official languages capacity, in recent years, data extracted from central HR systems and published in the Annual Report on Official Languages indicate that the number of bilingual employees (45%) exceeds the number of bilingual positions (43%). footnote 6

The costing model includes the following hypotheses:

Language maintenance training for all impacted institutions was excluded from the costing model. Managers in federal institutions are responsible for identifying the language requirements of duties or positions to reflect operational responsibilities while the head of these institutions are responsible for authorizing payment of the bonus to qualified employees. Upon meeting the language requirements for bilingual positions, it is often thought that language maintenance training should be provided to employees to assist them with language retention. As described above, under the Directive on Official Languages for Communications and Services, the head of a federal institution must develop and maintain a corporate culture that is conducive to the use of both official languages while employees must also demonstrate their own efforts in this regard. footnote 7 The costing model treated this issue as specific to an institution rather than established across all impacted institutions, therefore excluded from the estimates.

The costing model excluded language training of Canada Post’s franchisees as well as language maintenance training. Canada Post also has the responsibility to ensure that their franchisees hire bilingual employees or provide training to existing employees in order to comply with the proposed changes. In this context, Canada Post conducts compliance activities to ensure that their franchisees meet franchisees’ linguistic obligations.

Cost-benefit statement
 

First Year: 2019

Final Year: 2033

Total (Present Value)

Annual Average (Present Value)

A. Quantified impacts (in millions of dollars, 2018$)

Costs

Federal government

10.2

0.3

71.1

7.8 table note *

Training for a second official language

9.8

0.0

65.2

7.2

Second language test fee

0.04

0.0

0.2

0.03

Translation costs for signage and publications

0.3

0.0

2.0

0.1

Bilingual bonus

0.1

0.3

3.7

0.4

B. Quantified impacts (in non-dollars)

Official language minority population (likely to ask for services in French) outside of Quebec increases by 364 025 persons.

Official language minority population (likely to ask for services in English) in Quebec increases by 421 285 persons.

An estimated 615 currently unilingual offices will be required to provide their services in both official languages.

C. Qualitative impacts

The proposed amendments

  • Contribute to the overall benefit of bilingualism in Canada as one of the biggest employers in Canada as well as a service provider to the Canadian public.
  • Contribute to the development and growth of official language minority communities.
  • Contribute to the vitality of communities. The proposed calculation method estimates the population likely to ask for services in the minority official language by including more minority official language speakers who speak that language regularly at home.
  • Increase the opportunities for the public to communicate in both official languages.
  • Give official language minority communities greater access to bilingual federal services and programs, regardless of the region where they are located.
  • Specify that an office should be bilingual if there is a minority official language school in its service area. This ensures the presence of bilingual federal services close to schools and makes more bilingual federal services available to youth and families who frequent these areas. This provision could promote awareness from a young age among minority official language students about the possibility of receiving services in the official language of their choice outside of a school setting.
  • Ensure bilingual services to travellers in train stations and airports in each Canadian provincial capitals, regardless of the volume of the demand or the traffic at those locations. This creates a system of equity in terms of access to transportation services in the language of choice of travellers for all provincial capitals.
  • Could improve the availability of bilingual services to the public in the regions through technology, particularly by including the services provided by video conference among the services that are automatically designated bilingual.

Table Note

Table Note *

Numbers might not add up to totals due to rounding.

Return to table note * referrer

“One-for-One” Rule

The proposed changes only impact federal institutions and would result in no new administrative burden for businesses, as defined by the Red Tape Reduction Act. Therefore, the “One-for-One” Rule does not apply.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply because it does not impact small businesses as defined by the Policy on Limiting Regulatory Burden on Business. TBS’s Policy on Limiting Regulatory Burden on Business defines “small business” as any business, including its affiliates, that has fewer than 100 employees or between $30,000 and $5 million in annual gross revenues.”

The proposed changes would require Canada Post to provide signage and notices to newly designated bilingual offices. Canada Post will likely need to expand its compliance process to include an estimated 139 franchisees that will be designated bilingual. Compliance and reporting on such compliance is the responsibility of Canada Post at the corporate level; therefore, any burden will continue to be assumed centrally by Canada Post.

Gender-based analysis plus

TBS completed a gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) for this proposal. The main approaches proposed by the new Regulations meet the needs of official language minority communities without discrimination associated to the place (province, territory, locality) where they are located in Canada. They also more adequately meet the potential needs of Canadians who want to commit to learning their second official language, particularly those who speak — or are on their way to speaking — this language regularly at home. This is especially the case for specific demographic groups, such as immigrants, children from exogamous couples (or bilingual families where both official languages are present) and learners of a second official language, who regularly use both official languages at home. All of these people will benefit from the advances proposed by the regulatory review, since the advances will provide them with more opportunities to receive federal services in the official language of their choice.

Consultation

Following the announcement that the Regulations would be reviewed in November 2016, TBS held extensive consultations across Canada.

In total, TBS met more than 100 organizations and more than 150 stakeholders regarding the review of the Regulations in all 10 provinces and all 3 territories. Key stakeholders participating in the review process, and that were consulted, include

The general public, meaning all Canadians at home and abroad, had the opportunity to be consulted through an online survey from April 30 to July 8, 2018. The public consultation ended on July 8, 2018. In total, more than 1 500 Canadians responded to the survey and stated their views on the review of the Regulations through this online public consultation.

With the aim of adopting an open, transparent and comprehensive mobilization approach, the President of the Treasury Board also created an expert advisory group (EAG). This group, made up of experts in the field of official languages, was tasked with providing the President with additional advice on the ongoing review. The EAG included former Senator Claudette Tardif, Senator Raymonde Gagné, former Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser, and Mirelle Cyr, co-chair of Dialogue New Brunswick.

TBS had the opportunity to provide the EAG with four information sessions on the progress of the regulatory review: in June and November 2017, as well as February and May 2018. These sessions were open to all parliamentarians from the House of Commons and the Senate who were interested in participating. During two of these information sessions, representatives of the Department of Canadian Heritage and Statistics Canada were invited to present and answer questions from the EAG and parliamentarians on the components of the review that affected them. In the spring of 2018, the EAG submitted its recommendations to the President of the Treasury Board regarding the ongoing review.

What we heard

The participants in the consultations identified the challenges that were, according to them, important to consider in the review of the Regulations. In particular, they indicated the importance of an inclusive estimate of significant demand and that the vitality of communities should be considered in the linguistic designation of federal offices. Broadening the concept of key services and better locating points of service were the other main concerns of participants.

Estimating significant demand

The consultations revealed that the first official language spoken (FOLS) criterion was, on the whole, accepted by English-speaking Quebecers. Many Francophones outside of Quebec, however, found the current methodology unsatisfactory for establishing how many citizens are likely to demand services in French. A majority found that this method leads to an underestimation of the demand for services in French and does not properly consider factors such as the growth in the number of immigrants, the popularity of immersion classes or the increase in the number of households with one Francophone and one Anglophone parent.

Taking the vitality of communities into account

For a majority of stakeholders, the current approach — the application of “quantitative” instead of “qualitative” criteria for the bilingual designations of offices or points of service — is reductive and must be altered to address the gaps in bilingual service.

The numerous comments that the participants gave during consultations led TBS to work with Canadian Heritage to study the best way of accounting for the vitality criterion in the Regulations. An in-depth analysis revealed that the presence of a school in an official language community is the sign that best demonstrates its dynamism and the possible demand for federal services in a minority official language.

Broadening the concept of key services

The Regulations state that the qualities of certain services justify that more of these services be offered in both official languages to residents of a region.

A majority of those consulted felt that the concept of key services is valid — that certain federal services must be easier to obtain in the minority official language due to their intrinsic qualities — but that the list of services in this category is too short. Some wanted to be able, for example, to use either French or English to apply for a passport at a point of service.

In order to better meet the needs of Canadians, the list of key services was expanded considerably. With the amendment, the list includes all services that are currently provided at the various Service Canada offices, including passport applications. To promote the economic and social development of official language communities, the services offered by the Business Development Bank of Canada and federal regional development organizations, such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions or the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, will also be designated as “key services.”

Better placement of points of service

The current Regulations were drafted in such a way that where more than one office of an institution offers the same services, some offices may be designated bilingual while others will serve the public in only one official language. The proportion of bilingual points of service in a town or region depends on the relative demographic weight of the Francophone or Anglophone community located there.

Because minority Anglophones and Francophones should be able to access federal services as close to where they live as possible, the requirement to consult official language communities on the location of bilingual offices will be moved from the Directive to the Regulations to ensure that the needs and preferences of these communities are considered.

Conclusion of the consultation

The regulatory amendments largely meet the expectations expressed by various stakeholders. They aim to reconcile various points of view while respecting the Charter and the Act, and duly considering the sound management of public funds.

Rationale

The proposed amendments stem from a comprehensive review of the Regulations that was informed by a broad scope of stakeholder input. They deliver on a commitment from the Government of Canada to better reflect the new realities of Canadian society, to improve the availability of bilingual services in federal offices in Canada and abroad, and to significantly improve the Regulations without calling into question their foundations and overall structure.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The coming into force of the proposed amendments and their implementation in federal offices will be done in four major stages.

Upon registration of the new Regulations

As it does not rely on demographic data, the amendment to ensure that Anglophone and Francophone minorities are consulted on the location of bilingual offices will come into force upon registration of the proposed amendments.

Since the obligation to consult already exists in the Directive, this amendment will not change the existing operations of institutions. However, once the proposed amendments take effect, institutions will be required to consult official language minority communities on the location of bilingual offices under the Regulations instead of the Directive.

The Regulations are only applied when new federal offices need to determine their language obligations, when existing offices require verification of their language obligations following a move or changes to the types of services they provide, or during the verification of the language obligations of federal offices in light of the most recent decennial census. Therefore, most institutions will apply this rule following the next verification of the language obligations of offices based on the language data from the 2021 decennial census.

One year after the registration date of the new Regulations

The amendments for designating as bilingual train stations and airports located in a provincial or territorial capital, or the offices located in these airports, and IRCC offices in embassies and consulates, will enter into force one year after the registration of the Regulations in order to give the identified institutions time to implement their new obligations.

These rules do not rely on language data from the decennial census. The institutions identified in these amendments will not have to review their obligations following the publication of the next census.

Upon publication by Statistics Canada of language data from the 2021 decennial census of population

The amendments related to the new calculation method for estimating potential demand in the minority official language, the new vitality criterion (presence of a minority official language school in the office’s service area), and the modernized and expanded list of key services will enter into force with the publication of language data from the next decennial census, which is expected to be in 2022.

That will allow offices that are subject to the general rules, which depend on census data, to implement these amendments to the Regulations when they review the linguistic designation of their offices as part of the 10-year review of federal office obligations.

One year after the date of publication by Statistics Canada of language data from the 2021 decennial census of population

The demographic protection amendment will apply after the other demographic rules. It will protect the bilingual designation of offices, for which the language obligations are based on demographic data, in cases where the minority official language population has stayed the same or has increased while its proportion of the general population has decreased. It will be implemented after the initial review of language obligations for offices that are subject to the general rules.

The Directive specifies the terms for applying the Regulations and the implementation deadlines and standards.

It gives offices that will have to provide bilingual services, whether automatically or by applying general rules (except for measuring demand), a maximum of one year from the date when the language obligations are determined to implement the necessary measures to fulfill their new language obligations.

Offices that must measure the volume of the public’s demand for services will have two years to complete this measurement. They will then have one year from the date when their language obligations are determined to provide bilingual services or to discontinue providing these services.

Performance measurement and evaluation

Under the Act, the President of the Treasury Board is required to submit an annual report to Parliament on the status of the implementation of official languages programs in federal institutions that have obligations regarding communications with and services to the public, language of work and the representation of Francophone and Anglophone Canadians. The report details the number of points of service across the country that ensure delivery of services in English and in French and the degree to which federal institutions are complying with regulatory and policy requirements, and covers more specifically communications with and services to the public. Information on compliance is obtained through the review on official languages that federal institutions must submit to TBS. The President will be able to use these existing tools in order to monitor and report on the implementation of the obligations resulting from the proposed amendments.

Under the Act, the Treasury Board can monitor and audit compliance by federal institutions with official languages policies, instructions and regulations.

In addition, under the Act, any individual or group can file a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages regarding a breach of a federal act or regulations on the status or use of both official languages. The Commissioner investigates these complaints and, if the complaint is founded, can then make recommendations to the institution to remedy the situation. The Commissioner will keep the complainant informed of progress with regard to the investigation and of its result. The Act also provides that if the complaint was not resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, the case can then be brought before Federal Court.

Contact

Carsten Quell
Executive Director
Official Languages Centre of Excellence
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0R5
Telephone: 613‑462‑1341
Email: Carsten.Quell@tbs-sct.gc.ca

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given, pursuant to section 86 of the Official Languages Act footnote a, that the Governor in Council, pursuant to sections 32 and 93 footnote b of that Act, proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations to the President of the Treasury Board within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice, which 30 days shall be days on which both Houses of Parliament are sitting. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to the Official Languages Centre of Excellence, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 219 Laurier Avenue West, 10th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5 (email: OL-Regulations-Reglement-LO@tbs-sct.gc.ca).

Ottawa, October 18, 2018

Jurica Čapkun
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

Regulations Amending the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations

Amendments

1 (1) The portion of section 2 of the English version of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations footnote 8 before the first definition is replaced by the following:

2 The following definitions apply in these Regulations.

(2) The definitions immigration services and Method I in section 2 of the Regulations are repealed.

(3) The definitions CMA and CSD in section 2 of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(4) Section 2 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

regional economic development agency means the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario and the Department of Western Economic Diversification. (organisme de développement économique régional)

2 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 2:

2.1 For the purposes of paragraph 32(2)(a) of the Act and these Regulations, English or French linguistic minority population means all persons, in a province in which an office or facility of a federal institution is located, for whom the first language, or one of the first languages, learned at home in childhood and still understood, is the minority official language and those who speak the minority official language at home, as determined by Statistics Canada based on the published data from the most recent decennial census of population.

3 Section 3 of the Regulations and the heading “Definition of English or French Linguistic Minority Population” before it are repealed.

4 Section 4 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

4 For the purposes of this Part, the number of persons of the English or French linguistic minority population in a province, CMA, CSD or service area is equal to the total number of the persons for whom the first language, or one of the first languages, learned at home in childhood and still understood, is the minority official language and those who speak the minority official language at home, as determined by Statistics Canada based on the published data from the most recent decennial census of population.

5 (1) Subparagraph 5(1)(b)(i) of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(2) Paragraph 5(1)(b) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of subparagraph (i), by adding “and” at the end of subparagraph (ii) and by adding the following after subparagraph (ii):

(3) The portion of paragraph 5(1)(c) of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:

(4) Subparagraph 5(1)(c)(i) of the English version of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(5) Paragraph 5(1)(c) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of subparagraph (i), by adding “and” at the end of subparagraph (ii) and by adding the following after subparagraph (ii):

(6) Paragraph 5(1)(d) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(7) Subparagraphs 5(1)(f)(i) to (vi) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(8) The portion of paragraph 5(1)(g) of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:

(9) Paragraph 5(1)(g) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of subparagraph (i), by adding “and” at the end of subparagraph (ii) and by adding the following after subparagraph (ii):

(10) Subsection 5(1) of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after paragraph (h):

(11) Paragraph 5(1)(i) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of subparagraph (i), by adding “and” at the end of subparagraph (ii) and by adding the following after subparagraph (ii):

(12) Paragraph 5(1)(k) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(13) Subparagraphs 5(1)(l)(i) to (vii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(14) The portion of paragraph 5(1)(m) of the Regulations before subparagraph (i) is replaced by the following:

(15) Paragraph 5(1)(m) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of subparagraph (i), by adding “and” at the end of subparagraph (ii) and by adding the following after subparagraph (ii):

(16) Paragraphs 5(1)(n) to (r) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(17) Section 5 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after subsection (3):

(3.1) For the purposes of paragraphs (1)(h), (i), (j), (l), (m), (o) and (p), there is significant demand for communications with and services from an office or facility of a federal institution in both official languages if the office or facility is located in a CSD, there is currently a significant demand for communications with and services from the office or facility in both official languages under one of those paragraphs and the English or French linguistic minority population referred to in that paragraph has remained the same or has increased, based on data from the most recent decennial census of population.

6 (1) Paragraphs 6(1)(c) and (d) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(2) Paragraph 6(2)(b) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(3) Paragraph 6(2)(c) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(4) Subparagraph 6(2)(d)(i) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

7 (1) Subparagraphs 7(4)(c)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

(2) Subparagraphs 7(4)(d)(i) and (ii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

8 The portion of section 8 of the French version of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

8 Les cas visés à l’alinéa 24(1)a) de la Loi touchant à la santé ou à la sécurité du public sont les suivants :

9 (1) The portion of section 9 of the French version of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

9 Les cas visés à l’alinéa 24(1)a) de la Loi touchant à l’emplacement d’un bureau d’une institution fédérale sont les suivants :

(2) Paragraph 9(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(3) Section 9 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after paragraph (c):

(4) Section 9 of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (d), by adding “and” at the end of paragraph (e) and by adding the following after paragraph (e):

10 (1) The portion of section 10 of the French version of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

10 Les cas visés à l’alinéa 24(1)a) de la Loi liés au caractère national ou international du mandat d’un bureau d’une institution fédérale sont les suivants :

(2) Paragraph 10(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

(3) Section 10 of the Regulations is amended by adding “and” at the end of paragraph (c) and by replacing paragraphs (d) and (e) by the following:

11 Subparagraphs 11(a)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

12 The portion of subsection 12(1) of the French version of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

12 (1) Les services visés au paragraphe 23(2) de la Loi offerts aux voyageurs sont les suivants :

13 (1) Part IV of the Regulations is repealed.

(2) The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 12:

PART IV

Ten-Year Review

13 The Minister must ensure that a review of these Regulations and their administration and operation is conducted 10 years after this section comes into force and every 10 years after that, and must cause a report on the review to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first 30 days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.

Coming into Force

14 (1) Subject to subsections (2) to (4), these Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

(2) Subsections 9(3) and 10(2) and section 11 come into force on the first anniversary of the day on which these Regulations are registered.

(3) Subsections 1(2) and (4), sections 2 to 4, subsections 5(1), (3), (4), (6) to (8), (10), (12) to (14) and (16), 6(1) and (3), 9(4) and 10(3) come into force on the day on which the linguistic data from the 2021 census of the population is published by Statistics Canada.

(4) Subsection 5(17) comes into force on the first anniversary of the day on which the linguistic data from the 2021 census of the population is published by Statistics Canada.