ARCHIVED - Chief of the Defence Staff Thanks Ombudsman for Continued Support, Provides Responses from Chain of Command

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4 March 2008

Mrs. Mary McFadyen
National Defence and Canadian
Forces Interim Ombudsman
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 5M1

 

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE CONCERNS - CFB GAGETOWN AND ST-JEAN GARRISON

Thank you for your letter dated 30 January 2008 in which you outlined the concerns regarding the lack of services and instruction available in both official languages. Those concerns were raised during your visits to CFB/ASU Gagetown and St-Jean Garrison.

Enclosed you will find the response from the Army Commander to the raised concerns. Input was provided by two different commands; Land Force Command as owner of the two subject bases and Chief Military Personnel as the command responsible for some of the units located on these bases. As Chief of the Defence Staff, I fully support the report and its findings.

The Canadian Forces takes its responsibilities and obligations regarding the Official Languages Program very seriously. We recognize our linguistic duality as a long-standing value that enhances our ability to serve at home and abroad. We also understand that challenges remain, and we strive to overcome those obstacles so as to fully support our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen.

We will continue to work towards improving the quality of services offered and also the instruction delivered to both our Francophone and Anglophone members.

Thank you for raising the concerns. Your continued support and involvement is most welcome as we continue to move forward with the implementation of our National Defence Official Languages Transformation Model.

 

General R.J. Hillier

Enclosures: 2

  1. 28 February 2008 - Official Language Concerns - CFB Gagetown and St-Jean Garrison
  2. Official Languages Matrix - Ombudsman Concerns Dated 30 January 08

c.c.
The Honourable Peter G. MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Defence
Mr. Robert Fonberg, Deputy Minister of National Defence
Lieutenant-General A.B. Leslie, Chief of Land Staff
Major-General W. Semianiw, Chief Military Personnel


1211-10 (G1 Official Languages)

28 February 2008

General R.J. Hillier, C.M.M., M.S.C, C.D.
Chief of Defence Staff
National Defence Headquarters
MGen Pearkes Building
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0K2
 

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE CONCERNS - CFB GAGETOWN AND ST-JEAN GARRISON

  1. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond to the Ombudsman’s letter dated 30 January 2008 in which they outlined the concerns regarding the lack of services in both official languages raised during visits to CFB Gagetown and St-Jean Garrison. The responses to the concerns comes from two separate chain of commands, one the Army as the owner of the two subject bases, and CMP as the Command responsible for some of the units located on those bases and mentioned in the letter.
  2. The Canadian Forces takes its responsibilities and obligations regarding the Official Languages Program very seriously. We recognize our linguistic duality as a long-standing value that enhances our ability to serve at home and abroad. We also understand that challenges remain, and we strive to overcome those obstacles so as to fully support out soldiers. At the heart of every activity we do, stand our soldiers; their interests will shape every decision we make. This includes ensuring effective provision of services of equal value in both official languages where and when required.
  3. We are also very much aware that equitable participation has a meaning within the CF, which is different from that of other federal institutions. The fact is that, depending on the nature of their operations; CF members are periodically required to relocate from one end of the country to the other. Consequently, the linguistic composition of a unit will not necessarily reflect the linguistic composition of the population of the area where the unit is located. We are in the process of making clear the importance to leaders at all levels engaged in pursuing to ensure that all soldiers are aware of their linguistic rights and obligations, wherever they may serve.
  4. As the Army is in the midst of creating its own Action Plan on Official Languages that will be promulgated by 15 April 2008, it has engaged in ensuring that short-term specific issues are addressed and actioned as per your raised concerns. Full details can be found in the enclosed Official Language Matrix.
    1. the immediate guarantee of the safety of all individuals working and training on Army establishments (specifically with regard to the communication of food allergies, conducting fire drills, and commands provided on ranges).
    2. The immediate action to ensure that steps are taken to strengthen and support the visibility of the Official Language Coordinators.
    3. Immediate action to ensure that all students and staff are informed of their linguistic rights. Ensure that mechanisms are in place to assist members in exercising those rights.
    4. Immediate action to ensure the provision of adequate translation services.
    5. Immediate action to re-consult the senior leadership on their obligation to foster a culture of inclusiveness by ensuring that briefings, correspondence, and order/directives are communicated in the language(s) commensurate with the audience.

Longer term actions are being taken on the following issues:

  1.  
    1. Ensuring balanced wait-times for training for Francophone and Anglophone students.
       
    2. Assigning an equitable number of bilingual staff members (military and civilian) to the course instructor cadre.
  2. The network of Official Language Coordinators (OL Coord) are located at every level of HQ throughout the Canadian Forces. This network is very strong and well involved with the chain-of-command. The Army Command Advisor Official Languages gathers all the OL Coordinators from its Command for an annual work-plan meeting that consists of strategies and consultations to move the program and increase its visibility. The status of these coordinators is varied: they may be either civilians or military, and except for a few, they perform these duties on a full-time basis. All Army units appoint Unit Coordinators of Official Languages to advise leadership on matters related to official languages and to promote the program within their respective unit. The network continues to educate all towards a conducive workplace with regards to Official Languages. The OL Coords are leaders in themselves and ensure the implementation, promotion, and standardization; go the extra mile to ensure that our soldiers are led, trained, and supervised in the language of choice.
  3. We recognize that there is, and always will be room for improvement regarding compliance with the Official Languages Act. We will continue to work towards improving the quality of services offered and also the instruction delivered to both our Francophone and Anglophone members. A Land Force Command Official Languages Action Plan has been drafted to address and provide guidance towards gaining a better understanding and awareness of the rights and obligations we should adhere to in this respect. This plan will better position the OL Coord to better advise the commanders and personnel. This plan will reinforce the National Defence Official Languages Transformation Model. The Action Plan focuses on Part IV – Communications with and Services to the Public, Part V –Language of Work, Part VI-Participation of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians, and Part VII- Advancement of English and French. We expect to implement this plan over the next two years.
  4. Thank you to the Ombudsman for raising the concerns. The continued support and involvement is most welcome as we continue to move forward with the implementation of our Action Plan.

 

Lieutenant-General A.B. Leslie

Enclosure: 1
Official Languages Matrix - Ombudsman Concerns Dated 30 January 08

Distribution List
Information
CMP
Comd LFDTS
Comd LFQA
Comd LFAA
G1 OL

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