TORONTO – The Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada is categorical: in promotional activities, Air Canada must display and promote its activities in both official languages in all regions of the country where this is required. The airline did not do so at the Toronto Pride celebrations in 2016 and the company will have to correct the shock to meet its obligations under the Official Languages Act.
At the beginning of July 2016, Toronto was vibrating to the rhythms of Pride celebrations, the largest event of its kind in Canada. Air Canada has decided to take this opportunity to express its support for the LGBT community.
On that occasion, a citizen tried unsuccessfully to obtain information in French from the federal institution. He complained to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) of Canada.
“The display at the Air Canada promotional kiosk was in English only. In addition, Air Canada personnel at this tent did not actively offer services in both official languages, “reads a copy of the preliminary report obtained by #ONfr .
In response, Air Canada argues that the purpose of this tent was not to advertise its products and that no passenger service was offered. “As a result, Air Canada is of the view that its official languages policy and procedures are not applicable in this specific case as they relate to situations in which services are offered to travelers, Supported the company.
On the contrary, the CLO believes that the promotional booth is the equivalent of an airline office. And considering that Toronto has more than 5,000 members of the Francophone minority, Air Canada had an obligation to communicate with the public in the official language of its choice, the Commissioner said.
“Air Canada’s promotional tent was Air Canada’s highly visible means of communication, recognizable by Canadians at the national level,” she adds.
“The promotional tent represented an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment not only to diversity but also to Canada’s linguistic duality, given its presence at a nationwide media event. “ -Ghislaine Saikaley
It states that Air Canada has breached its obligations under the Official Languages Act and recommends that Air Canada establish, within twelve months of its final report, means to ensure that promotional activities are conducted in both official languages “In areas where the use of both official languages is subject to significant demand”.
When asked to respond to the report, Air Canada indicated that it would continue its discussions with the Commissioner’s office and that “comments on this matter would be inappropriate”.
“Air Canada is Canada’s largest private sector company providing bilingual services in Canada and around the world. As a company that fosters diversity and is proud of its Canadian heritage, we value our role in promoting bilingualism and official languages both in communities across the country and at home. ” Said Isabelle Arthur, Air Canada spokesperson, in a statement sent to #ONfr .
In recent years, Air Canada has found itself in hot water as a result of numerous official language complaints. Recently, #ONfr revealed complaints about services offered at Toronto’s Pearson Airport . A similar situation also occurred at the small Billy-Bishop airport on the Toronto Islands.
In 2012, in a very critical report, the Senate Committee on Official Languages stated that, subject to the Official Languages Act, society had an obligation to provide a service of equal quality in both official languages. On a number of occasions, former Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser pointed out that this was not the case, even tabling a very critical report on it in Parliament .
Before the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the president of Air Canada stated that the report was an attack on his company and its employees. He assured us that bilingualism is part of Air Canada’s culture.