ARCHIVED - Minister of National Defence Commits to Continued Progress

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MAR 30 2009

Mr. Pierre Daigle
National Defence and Canadian Forces
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa ON K1P 5M1

Dear Mr. Daigle,

I refer to a letter of January 9, 2009, which I received from Ms. Mary McFadyen, concerning official languages training and services at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, CFB Gagetown, and St-Jean Garrison. I acknowledge your Office’s intent to make public your observations, as well as letters and responses to Ms. McFadyen’s correspondence of January 30, 2008.

The Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence (DND) take their responsibilities and obligations pertaining to official languages very seriously. Consequently we welcome the ongoing dialogue aimed at improving official languages knowledge in Canada’s military. We recognize and are proud of the bilingualism within DND and the operational advantage it provides us internationally. At the same time, we are aware of the need to improve. In this period of increasingly high operational tempo, we provide clear direction toward achieving 100 percent compliance with the Official Languages Act.

Continued progress is being achieved on the official languages front, and DND leadership has proven our commitment to improving the level of service available in both official languages. Commanding officers and the official languages coordinators have turned their energies toward increasing the awareness and confidence of our military members in this regard. A detailed matrix was sent to you in February 2008; it is our master plan for progress. Most initiatives have been successful, and the rest are moving forward, although they require more time to complete.

We recognize that, when posted, members are normally accompanied by their families and may be relocated to distant regions of the country. We are committed to ensuring that in those locations certain core services, including those directly related to quality of life, are offered in both official languages, as required by the Canadian Forces official languages policy. A review of the level of service available in both official languages was conducted in the fall of 2008. This increased awareness and gave commanding officers an opportunity to make or request changes to ensure that linguistically qualified personnel are at the right place at the right time.

We will continue to work closely with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages as stipulated in Ms. McFadyen’s letter. We remain committed and continually strive toward maintaining a workplace that is conducive to the use of both official languages.


Peter G. MacKay

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