Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines
The Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines are intended to assist and guide provincial departments, institutions and agencies in meeting their legal obligations under the Official Languages Act. They provide direction in the provision of services in both official languages.
The objective of the Official Languages – Language of Service Policy and Guidelines of the Government of New Brunswick is to ensure that services of equal quality are offered and provided in both official languages by provincial departments, agencies, health sector, crown corporations, institutions and third party enterprises.
The Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines have their foundation in the requirements of the Official Languages Act and of Board of Management Minute 04.0300.
The Government of New Brunswick recognizes its obligations under the Official Languages Act. Government is committed to actively offering and providing quality services to the public in the public’s official language of choice.
It is the policy of the government of New Brunswick to actively offer and provide services of equal quality in both official languages.
Members of the public or organizations who wish to communicate with any department, agency, crown corporation or institution of the Provincial Government can do so in the official language of their choice and they can expect to be offered and receive the available service in the official language of their choice, wherever the government service is provided.
The Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines applies to Parts I, III and IV of the New Brunswick Public Service.
The Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines applies to departments, agencies, health sector, crown corporations, institutions and third party enterprises who offer services to the public on behalf of government.
This policy applies to the Department of Education, however, given the linguistic duality within the education system, it does not apply to divisions of the Department which have been established on the basis of one or the other of the two official languages. This policy does not apply within the schools and schools district offices.
This policy applies to the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour; however, it does not apply to individual community colleges which have been established on the basis of one or the other of the two official languages.
As the Minister responsible for the Public Service, the Minister of Human Resources is responsible for the overall administration of the Language of Service Policy.
Responsibility for administering the Language of Service Policy is as follows:
Part I Civil Service - Deputy Ministers and Deputy Heads
Part III Health Sector - Chief Executive Officers
Part IV Crown Corporations - Presidents - Chief Executive Officers
The Office of Human Resources is responsible for monitoring the application and for providing interpretation and advice in the administration of the Official Languages - Language of Service Policy and Guidelines.
Service of equal quality is service which is actively offered in both official languages and which is available in the language chosen by the member of the public without undue delay.
The active offer of services means informing the public, at the first point of contact, that services are available in both official languages.
The use of bilingual signs and of two-language greetings on the telephone and in person are important elements of the active offer. All services intended for public consumption, including documents, internet postings and other materials must be available simultaneously in both official languages.
The public should be understood to include any person or group of persons, any association, profit or non-profit organization, municipal body or organization, provincial or federal institution, any non-governmental organization as well as the agent representative of the above.
The tool kit is a reference site that has been developed to assist managers and employees. It provides tools and examples to enable employees to offer and provide services of equal quality in both official languages.
I. Service to the Public
Where services are offered to the public by government, there is a legal obligation to offer and provide such services in the official language of choice of the public. There are no exceptions based on the existence of minimum numbers of either linguistic community in a particular area.
This means that members of the public or organizations who communicate with the New Brunswick government or its representative can do so in the official language of their choice. They can expect to be offered and receive the available service in the official language of their choice, wherever the government service is provided. This also means that the government must offer services of equal quality in both official languages.
Service to the public should be interpreted to include, but not be limited to:
- Oral communication;
- Correspondence;Electronic service delivery channels (e-mail, internet, voice-mail);
- Staffing interviews;
- Public forms and public documents;
- Information material;
- Judicial and Administrative Tribunals; and
- Public services provided by third parties.
This includes all regular and specialized government services to the public provided under government programs and legislation. It includes all government services as well as consultative, professional and technical assistance services. It also includes requests or appeals from individuals, groups or organizations for government to deal with unusual problems related to the delivery or need for government services.
The policy requires that all oral and written communication be provided in the official language of choice of the client. Employees directly providing these services should not normally require the use of interpretation services when providing service. If interpretation is required, it should be immediately available. Translation services will be available for forms, reports, correspondence and lengthy documents.
Third Party Service Providers
Third Party Service Providers refers to services provided through public-private partnership initiatives, or service contracts involving a third party service provider in the provision of government services.
Where the initiative will result in government services being delivered to the public or to public service employees by a service provider external to government, the contract must include a compliance clause spelling out the parties’ responsibilities and obligations under the Language of Service Policy to deliver service in both official languages. This extends to the third party service provider the service requirements for government institutions as per the Official Languages Act. This does not mean that all individual third party service providers must have bilingual service capacity. It does mean that the responsible government institution must ensure that the service is available to clients in the official language they chose. The service can be provided by either one service provider that has the bilingual capacity or from a number of service providers who function in one official language or the other.
Services provided on behalf of a third party by a government department or agency
Services provided on behalf of a third party by a government department or agency refers to services provided through partnership initiatives and service contracts involving a government department or agency providing a service or services on behalf of a third party. (i.e. SNB who provides services on behalf of Municipalities and others.)
Where the initiative will result in services being delivered by a government department or agency on behalf of a third party, the contract must include a compliance clause, when appropriate, spelling out the parties’ responsibilities and obligations under the Official Languages Act. This policy will not impose additional service requirements or obligations to a third party above those applicable to them as a result of the Official Languages Act.
Public Purchasing refers to two types of purchases:
- Products and services where linguistic considerations do not directly affect the product or its nature, e.g., paper, pencils, tools.
- Products and services directly affected in availability and nature by linguistic considerations, e.g. educational services.
For the purchase of products where the choice is not affected by language considerations, the sellers must be able to sell the product in the official language of their choice. All communication and documentation must be in the official language of choice of the seller. The policy in no way implies that a certain percentage of government purchases should be directed towards a specific linguistic group.
Where the product or service purchased must by its very nature be in one language or the other, (e.g. math text books for the francophone schools), the choice of language associated with the product or service is at the discretion of the purchasing department or agency. The purchasing process (tendering, contract, invoice payments) must be available in both official languages.
II . Services to be offered and provided in both Official Languages
Active Offer by telephone
With telephone reception, the active offer of service in both official languages means using a two-language greeting, followed by the provision of service in the client’s language of choice.
Examples of a two-language telephone greeting are:
"Province of New Brunswick, Bonjour!’’ or
"Province du Nouveau-Brunswick, Good Morning!’’
The order of the two languages used in the telephone greeting is not important. The active offer is considered to have been made when the greeting includes both languages, regardless of the order in which they appear.
Once the caller has indicated the language of choice, the employee can either assist the caller by responding to the request or transfer the call to an appropriate person. If the employee is unable to understand the caller’s request, the employee should say "Un moment, s’il vous plaît’’ or "One moment please", depending on the language used by the caller and transfer the call immediately to someone who can communicate with the caller in the language of the caller.
Under no circumstances should an employee apologize for a lack of language skills or enter into a conversation with a client in the language not chosen by the client.
To ensure the active offer of service in both official languages, all employees who provide service in both official languages and who have voice mail must have a bilingual voice mail greeting.
Employees who do not provide service in both languages must provide instruction at the end of their message in the other language on how to obtain service in this language (e.g. "Pour service en français, appuyer sur le 0").
Please refer to the tool kit for more information on voice mail greetings and mail box setup.
Active Offer in person
Extending the active offer in person also requires a two-language greeting. Once the active offer is extended, service must be provided in the official language of choice of the client. Usually, the two-language greeting in person is shorter than on the telephone. Some examples are:
"Bonjour, May I Help You?’’
"Good Morning, Bonjour!’’
"Hello, Puis-je vous aider?’’
Similar to the active offer on the telephone, the order in which the two languages appear is not important.
If the employee extending the active offer of service is unable to serve the client in the language chosen, the employee should say "Un moment, s’il vous plaît’’ or "One moment please" depending on the language used by the client and immediately request that an employee with the required language skills serve the client. An employee should not proceed to serve the client in the language not chosen by the client.
It is important to note that the language of choice refers to the client’s language of choice and not the employee’s language of choice
Active Offer through signage
The presence of bilingual signs is an important visual element indicating that services are available in both official languages. All offices must prominently display signs indicating the availability of service in both English and French. In addition, all exterior and interior signs in all offices and in all areas of the province must be in both official languages. All signage must conform to the Visual Identity Standards of the Province of New Brunswick, available from Communications New Brunswick.
Active Offer through correspondence
Correspondence initiated by government
When correspondence is initiated by a government department or agency, the active offer is considered to have been extended when all documentation is sent in both official languages. Once the client responds in the language of his or her choice, all future correspondence should be addressed in the language chosen by the client. At any time, a client may request to change his or her language of choice.
With correspondence as with all other forms of documentation, equal importance should be given to the two official languages. Documents should either be prepared in a side-by-side or front to back format.
Correspondence initiated by a client
When correspondence is initiated by a client, the response must be prepared in the language in which the letter was written. The only exception would be if the client specifically requests otherwise.
An example of this would be that some clients such as lawyers communicate on a regular basis with government on behalf of their own clients. A lawyer may initiate contact with a government department in English one month and in French the following month due to the language preference of a particular client. It is therefore important to ensure that regardless of the language originally chosen by the client (in this instance the lawyer), the reply must be prepared in the language in which the most recent letter was received.
Active Offer through electronic services
The active offer of service in both official languages must always be provided at the first point of contact with the use of all electronic service delivery channels such as Internet Services, E-mail and kiosks.
When a client first approaches a kiosk, the default language should not be one language or the other, but rather equal importance should be given to both languages. The first decision the client makes is to indicate the language in which he or she wishes to be served. At any time during the course of such a transaction, the client should have the option of switching to the other official language (toggle) rather than having to back out of the system and start over.
All provincial government internet postings must be made available at the same time in both official languages. Specific guidelines with respect to the Internet postings are available from Communications New Brunswick.
Any new information system, intended for public use that is purchased or developed must be in both official languages. Where unilingual systems exist, provisions should be made to translate or otherwise provide service in the other official language. At the first available opportunity, existing unilingual systems intended for public use, must be converted to bilingual systems.
Government departments, agencies, health sector and crown corporations must develop and maintain linguistic profiles in order to ensure that they have the capability to offer quality services in both official languages.
Development and Approval Process
The responsibility for the development and maintenance of linguistic profiles rests with the Official Languages Coordinators and/or the individual designated as responsible for official languages within each department, agency and corporation.
The following process should be followed, in the development and approval of linguistic profiles when new teams are established, when changes occurs within a team or when major reorganizations occur:
Departments (Part I)
- Profiles are developed in consultation with all levels of management
- An initial draft is produced and submitted to the Office of Human Resources.
- The Office of Human Resources will review the draft and indicate any concerns.
- Once concerns are resolved, the profile will receive approval from the Deputy Minister or Deputy Head within the department, agency or corporation.
- A copy of the profile, signed by the Deputy Minister or Deputy Head, will be forwarded to the Office of Human Resources.
- For Part I Departments, the profile will be loaded and maintained on the Human Resources Information System (HRIS).
Health Sector (Part III)
- Profiles are developed in consultation with all levels of management
- An initial draft is produced and submitted to the Department of Health.
- The Department of Health will review the draft and indicate any concerns.
- Once concerns are resolved, the profile will receive approval from the Chief Executive Officer within the Health Sector.
- A signed copy of the profile will be forwarded to the Department of Health.
Crown Corporations (Part IV)
- Profiles are developed in consultation with all levels of management.
- The Office of Human Resources will remain available to assist the Crown Corporations in developing or reviewing their profiles.
- Once concerns are resolved, the profile will receive approval from the President/Chief Executive Officer within the Crown Corporation.
Linguistic Profiles should be developed and maintained based on the integrated team approach in use since 1990.
Linguistic Profiles should be developed based on the following criteria:
Define the clients
- Who are our clients?
- Are they members of the public?
- Are they also our own employees? (i.e. in regional offices)
- What is the linguistic composition of our client base?
Define the services provided by the team
- What is the nature of the services provided?
(List the subject areas, or areas of specialization)
i.e. requests for information, inspection, assessment, etc...
- What functions are accomplished by employees in the delivery of the services listed above?
i.e. inform, facilitate training sessions, negotiate settlements, etc..
- How are the services usually accessed and provided?
i.e. initiated by client or by department, by telephone, by mail, etc..
Define the requirements of the team
- Given the above, how should the linguistic teams be structured?
i.e. groups, cross functional groups, or a mixture, etc…
Maintenance of Linguistic Profiles
For Departments in Part I, all changes to the Linguistic Profile will require the completion of a Request for Change – Linguistic profile form. Once an initial draft has been submitted for review, this form will require the approval of the Deputy Minister or Deputy Head responsible and submitted to the Office of Human Resources.
Departments are responsible to ensure that all linguistic profiles are reviewed and updated on a continuous basis.
Approval of competition (recruitment) for Part I Departments
Prior to posting a competition advertisement, written approval of the official language requirement(s) for a competitive staffing process must be obtained from the Director of Human Resources and be kept in the competition file.
Linguistic Profile Monitoring
The Office of Human Resources is responsible for monitoring the status of linguistic profiles. The Office of Human Resources will do an assessment of Part I, as of March 31 of each year, of government’s status in meeting its linguistic profile requirements.
Should you have any questions related to this policy please contact : your Official Languages Departmental Coordinators or the Human Resource Strategy and Programs Division, Office of Human Resources at 453-2264.