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Official Languages Act

October 17, 2012 by  

Official Languages Act, Elections Canada and Air Canada were singled out in a new report released Tuesday for repeatedly failing to meet legal requirements to offer bilingual services. The annual report to Parliament by Graham Fraser, the commissioner of official languages, said his office agreed to investigate 518 complaints in 2011-2012, dealing with a variety of issues plaguing the institutions, including services to the public, the workplace environment and appointments made by the Harper government of unilingual people to key positions such as the auditor general.

Under the Official Languages Act, the federal government is required to protect access to federal services and the vitality of minority English and French-speaking communities across Canada.

Air Canada, a former crown corporation, must meet federal language requirements as part of a condition set when it was privatized in the 1980s.

But Fraser said that apart from introducing a new official languages policy, in response to a 2011 audit about its performance that was prompted by numerous complaints, he said the airline has not yet responded to a key recommendation that highlights consultations with official languages communities.

“Because the Office of the Commissioner continues to receive complaints about Air Canada, it is important for the carrier to address all of the recommendations in the audit report as quickly as possible,” said Fraser’s report.

In response, the airline said it was committed to meeting its responsibility, cooperating with Fraser’s office to address the concerns while recognizing that its customers were entitled to service in the language of their choice.

“It is just good customer service,” said Air Canada spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur. “We will continue to honour our official languages commitments as well as our programs to enhance our bilingual capability. Air Canada has long believed in a level playing field for all air carriers operating scheduled service in Canada.”

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