2006/05/01

Environment Canada contracts to urge public servants to speak French


Environment Canada is offering a professional services contract worth up to $25,000 to develop "reminder tools" for civil servants urging them to speak French.English is the language usually spoken by Environment Canada employees during internal meetings and DM Samy Watson wants to do something about it.

Official Languages Commissioner Dyane Adam has been promoting the concept of "receptive bilingualism" in the federal civil service. Adam described the concept this way:

"We believe that even the incumbents of unilingual positions should have some passive knowledge of their second language. Otherwise, written communications and discussions in meetings will continue to be primarily in one language as soon as there is one unilingual person in the communication chain."

The federal government spends upwards of $120 million annually on second-language training for civil servants, once back-fill costs to replace full-time language students are taken into account. The vast majority of the training goes to anglophones learning French.

Yet internal studies and employee surveys have shown many anglophone bureaucrats start losing their acquired French proficiency once they return to work, where English is the predominant language.

To rectify the problem, language bureaucrats have been grappling with the issue of how to create what they call a "culture change" in federal civil servants across Canada.

Environment Canada's latest "receptive bilingualism project" contract is being funded in part by the Official Languages Innovation Fund, which in 2005-06 spent $2.7 million on approved projects across Canada.

Among those projects, was $182,000 for part of a five-year program in Newfoundland and Labrador to "propel official languages objectives to new levels of priority in the work plans, networks and initiatives of the federal civil service in this province."

Just half a per cent of Newfoundland's population is francophone, according to the 2001 census.

On the opposite coast, the innovation fund spent $455,000 last year, including $96,000 to hire a full-time official languages coordinator for the Pacific region - where francophones make up 1.5 per cent of British Columbia's population.

The fund also committed $80,000 to teaching French to Pacific region civil servants whose first language is Cantonese and second language is English.

What a waste of taxpayers money! New Environment Minister Rona Ambrose should put an end to this nonsense and ask PM Harper to send Samy Watson to the recycling bin while she's at it.

4 comments:

DownEaster said...

Let's hope the Conservatives do something about this nonsense! The item about Newfoundland would be comical if it weren't so sad. Dyane Adams should be dumped as OL Commissioner.

Tolstoy said...

I once witnessed a presentation by Dyane Adams. She reminded me of a fanatic from the days of the Spanish Inquistion except she's promoting language rather than religion, or language as a religion!

Jason said...

You got your wish! Samy got canned today!

cardinal47 said...

Yes, I got the Press Release from PMO. I'm glad to see the PM took my advice and dumped Samy from environment:-)