Adrian Wyld La Presse Canadian RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme on October 23
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is struggling to comply with the requirements of the Official Languages Act, acknowledged its commissioner, Michael Duheme.
“We sometimes have difficulty ensuring our full compliance with the law,” he declared Monday before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. A situation that he says he takes “very seriously”.
A new official languages strategy will be implemented this fall. It provides in particular that “executives and regular officers at officer level who do not meet the bilingualism requirements” are “subject to evaluation” and “undergo training” so “that they comply with the requirements.”
Mr. Duheme was summoned by the committee after Radio-Canada revealed that several senior officers occupy bilingual positions even though they do not speak French and do not take courses to remedy this.
According to him, “ 87.5% of employees in bilingual positions meet the requirements of their position.” This percentage drops to 59% within the senior staff.
Out of 10 people, only 4 “have the valid profile,” he said, specifying that 2 of the 3 unilingual English-speaking members were previously exempt from bilingualism requirements since they work in British Columbia and Alberta, English-speaking provinces.
Shortage and operational requirements
The “challenge”, taken “very seriously” by the big boss of the RCMP, does not date “just from today” and is due to “several factors”. First, Mr. Duheme mentions the difficulty of freeing employees for training due to operational needs.
The RCMP in particular “has difficulty filling certain high-level bilingual positions […] We always look at bilingualism first and foremost. The reality is that there are key positions for which we need expertise in certain areas, and then, these people have not had the opportunity to learn French or a language second “. “[It] forces us, sometimes, on occasion, to fill a bilingual position with someone who is unilingual to truly meet the organization's mandate to ensure public safety. »
Incentives for learning both languages are, however, in place, according to Mr. Duheme, who affirms that bilingualism is essential for employees who want to climb the organizational ladder and that 'it is associated with bonuses.
A second challenge is the labor shortage, from which the RCMP is no exception. “Fewer and fewer people are showing an interest” in the police function, notes Mr. Duheme, which at the same time reduces the pool of French-speaking employees, he maintains.
He indicates that efforts have been made to attract more staff, such as the end of the mobility imposition, which required employees to be able to work anywhere in the country.
The bilingualism requirements have, however, not been changed since the reform last June of the Official Languages Act.
The RCMP's language training budget, however, increased from approximately $1.4 million to $2.5 million this year . Chief human resources officer Nadine Huggins also said the number of bilingual classes at the RCMP Academy in Regina has “started” to increase, from 2 to 3 this year.
< p>This report is supported by the Local Journalism Initiative, funded by the Government of Canada.