Air Canada: Five years later, the Commissioner of Official Languages ​​is still waiting

In June 2016, indicating that a file Multiple interventionsAnd like these [ses] Their predecessors did not give the desired resultsThe commissioner at the time, Graham Fraser, used his last cartridge: a special report to Parliament (A new window).

This process is rarely used, since only its predecessor, Debreville Fortier, used it in 1990, with success.

Commissioner Fraser gave the government several options for resolving the situation at Air Canada and recommended that his report be examined by a parliamentary committee. Something made with another report, Muscular, published in 2017.

Raymond Tyberg, Commissioner of Official Languages ​​of Canada (archive)

Photo: The Canadian Press/Adrian Wilde

But since the cry from the heart of Mr. Fraser, his successor, Raymond Tyberg is still waiting.

When we reach a point where there is nothing else to do, we must make parliamentary committees aware of this issue, in particular, and encourage them to act. Here, they responded with a report, but persistence, we’re still waitingHe explained in an interview with Radio Canada.

A new law to solve the situation?

following? It is a presentation of a new Official Languages ​​Act, which is responding to the office of the Minister of Official Languages, Jennette Petitbas Taylor, who was not available to comment on the file.

In an email, his team recalls that the Bell C-32 filed last June, died on the order sheet, and included more powers for the commissioner, including the power of Entering into compliance agreements and, in some cases, issuing orders.

The reform proposes a coherent and robust set of various legislative and administrative proposals to resolve implementation problems, including Air Canada compliance with the law to provide bilingual services to its customers.The Minister’s press secretary, Catherine Mounir Desrocher, wrote.

« Air Canada will only listen if it is required to do something by law. »

But for the president of the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada, the government’s proposals so far have not gone far enough.

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Yes, it is important that you have the powers of the system, but also the powers of punishment and the ability to impose fines. […] If the official languages ​​commissioner [ce] True, we said, for example, that every passenger who did not have access to services in French had a free ticket or refund, I think that items like this […] It will give resultsJudge Lian Rui.

Smiling woman wearing glasses.

Lianne Roy, President of the Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities of Canada (archive)

Photo: Radio Canada / Contribution

Commissioner Théberge believes that the C-32 project improves the current situation, but believes that it is necessary to acquire more tools so that it can move forward gradually.

Ideally, we would like to see additional administrative and financial penalties.

« Currently, the commissioner’s only real authority is to make recommendations. And it’s still clearly not giving the results we want. »

Quote from Raymond Tyberg, Commissioner of Official Languages ​​of Canada

Professor of law at the University of Ottawa and holding the Canadian Francophone Research Chair in Rights and Language Issues, François Larroque is not opposed to fines, but cautions against excessive punitive tools.

That compliance agreements have been made, and I think it brings the organization into a participatory logic. Air Canada can participate in the resolution rather than being enforced by a court or through a mechanism. While the payment of compensation does not necessarily solve the problems in terms of recruitment, publication and messages sent.

Air Canada offers?

Since 2016, the Commissioner’s office has received 428 complaints, the vast majority of which are related to the lack of services in the French language.

The number has decreased with the pandemic, but has begun to rise again in recent weeks with the controversy surrounding Mr. Rousseau who gave birth to Beyond 2,000 complaints, says the commissioner. His office is continuing its analysis to determine the possibility of an investigation.

Air Canada CEO Michael Russo addresses reporters.

The correct speech in English by Air Canada CEO Michael Russo at the Montreal Chamber of Commerce led to “more than 2,000 complaints,” according to the official languages ​​commissioner.

Photo: Bloomberg

Air Canada A Going downhill is preferred Radio Canada interview request. The carrier explains that it first wants to give the formed committee a review of the practices in its 2020-2023 language work plan to do its job.

In this plan, Air Canada explains that despite the growth in its number of employees worldwide – 37,000 – The number of official language complaints received has remained relatively constant, indicating an overall improvement over time.

It’s hard to talk about progress when you receive an average of 80 complaints a yearMr. Tyberg, however, infuriates who is suspicious. the plan [d’action linguistique 2020-2023] It will not fix the situation. In fact, there is not much difference between the new and the old plan. […] Air Canada must find a way to truly integrate the official languages ​​into the organization’s culture. I think that’s what’s missing. The example should come from above.

257 recommendations in five years

In the past four months, the complainants have sent Radio Canada two final investigation reports from the Official Languages ​​Commissioner and two follow-up reports.

No active bilingual presentation, and lack of service in French, found two complaints filed in 2019. For the two follow-up reports for complaints that appeared between 2016 and 2017, we learned that of five recommendations from the Commissioner’s office, no implement any of them.

Since 2016, 257 recommendations have been made, but my office did not want to specify how many recommendations were implemented.

Denny Laureau retired for five years, and served in the commissioner’s office for 30 years, including 29 years as representative of the Official Languages ​​Commissioner in Alberta, British Columbia, and the Three Territories. In the first half of his career, he had the opportunity to negotiate with Air Canada several times.

It was frustrating because I realize that, on the one hand, it is a business, but at the same time, in the name of Air Canada, it is a symbol of Canada. […] From my perspective, I get the impression that we don’t see the issue of official languages ​​as part of the business model. It’s like a side, a commitment, He said.

He tells some of his experiences with the airline.

It was always a good, fun conversation, and there were always commitments to improve, and then put in the effort. Then the next day, it was back to how it was before.

Mr Laureau said, despite some sporadic efforts, there is a lack of consistency at Air Canada.

Consistency estimated by the former official of the Commission between the complainants.

What I find amazing is that there are still people coming forward with complaints. We should give them medals, confirms. These are the people who really believe in it, and have faith that at some point it will work.

But according to Mr. Larroque, if the current system allows for some individual victories, such as those of an Orleans resident, Michel Tibodeau, Systematically, nothing changes.

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