3. Findings and Recommendations
Page 5 of 8
3.1 Audit objective 1: Leadership
To determine the extent to which the Airport Authority is committed to the effective implementation of the Official Languages Act, the audit examined the program management framework in place, the visibility of the program, communications with staff and contracted service providers, and the engagement of other federal institutions located at the airport.
3.1.1 Program management framework
For an official languages program to be successful, a solid program management framework is an essential starting point. This means that an institution should have the necessary corporate strategy, accountability framework, action plan and adequate resources in place to ensure the effective management and implementation of its official languages program.
18.104.22.168 Corporate strategy
The Airport Authority recently completed the development of its five-year strategic plan (2009–2013) and its 2009 business plan. The Airport Authority is committed to fully implementing an official languages program by the end of 2011. After examining the leadership shown by the Board and senior management in the context of official languages and whether or not official languages are reflected in the organizational culture of the Airport Authority, we can conclude that much of the program management infrastructure currently in place at the Airport Authority has been implemented as a direct result of the Office of the Commissioner’s report card and audit processes. Indeed, these initiatives have raised awareness and brought several official languages issues to the attention of the Airport Authority’s Board of Directors. Given this, and the recent appointment of an official languages champion, we are satisfied that, in general, the Board recognizes the importance of official languages issues.
Although the Airport Authority has appointed an official languages champion at the senior management level, we note that the Airport Authority has yet to make a formal announcement of the appointment. We encourage the Airport Authority’s administrators to clearly define the role that the champion will play and proceed with a formal announcement as quickly as possible.
Within the institution, the perception of the importance of official languages varies widely from one department to another. The interviews we conducted showed that, although there is a positive trend toward acknowledging the importance of complying with the Official Languages Act, much more work must be done by the Airport Authority’s leaders to fully integrate linguistic duality into the Airport Authority’s corporate culture. The key to a successful corporate strategy regarding official languages will be to ensure that the commitment at the senior level that was mentioned earlier is clearly communicated to the rest of the organization and to the airport’s contracted service providers.
While the Airport Authority has no formal corporate strategy in place with respect to official languages, our findings reveal that important elements of a strategy are currently being developed and implemented in the form of tools such as an accountability framework, internal policies, an action plan and monitoring mechanisms. These elements, in addition to the naming of an official languages champion, will serve as a strong foundation for an overall corporate strategy on official languages for the Airport Authority.
22.214.171.124 Accountability framework
An official languages accountability framework was implemented in 2007 in response to the Office of the Commissioner’s report card and audit processes. Overall responsibility for the official languages program lies with the Airport Authority’s President and Chief Executive Officer. The General Counsel assumes responsibility for official languages compliance matters. Our interviews indicated that the management of official languages issues is centralized in the legal department. The accountability framework also lists the names and responsibilities of other Airport Authority representatives with a role in official languages. The Vice President, Corporate Communications, Retail and Community Development, has the overall responsibility for communication with the travelling public, and for negotiating and administrating contracts for retail services. The Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, has overall responsibility for negotiating and administering contracts for aeronautical services.
The implementation of an accountability framework has changed the way in which the official languages program is managed by the Airport Authority. Direction pertaining to managing the official languages file comes first and foremost from the General Counsel. The Airport Authority has set up a working group consisting of the General Counsel, a corporate paralegal, the Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, the Vice President, Corporate Communications, Retail and Community Development, and the Customer Relations Manager to coordinate the official languages program. They meet as needed, and some of the issues discussed at their meetings have been brought before the Executive Management Team. We noted, however, that no reports have been produced by this working group and that only the performance evaluations of the General Counsel and the paralegal assistant include commitments regarding the implementation of an official languages program at the Airport Authority. We would encourage the Airport Authority to consider adopting more formal means of communicating the group’s recommendations and to include official languages commitments in the performance agreements of all its senior executives.
Our audit revealed that the Airport Authority’s accountability framework could be strengthened in a number of ways. For example, the framework could better describe the mechanisms used by the Airport Authority to meet and communicate its obligations under the Act. Most people interviewed were unaware of the existence of the accountability framework, and we noted that awareness of the official languages issue varied from one individual to the other. The same can be said for contracted service providers, who were aware that some changes had occurred in the management of the official languages program, but did not know the details. Along with its other objectives, the management framework should identify the individuals who have specific official languages responsibilities (employees of the Airport Authority, other federal institutions, contracted service providers). It would be beneficial to disseminate this information widely.
The audit also showed that the various departments of the Airport Authority are individually responsible for many of their own official languages operations, including translation, determining the linguistic requirements of positions, handling complaints and monitoring the agreements with different contracted service providers. A strengthened accountability framework could therefore be used to develop a more concerted and proactive approach within the Airport Authority with respect to management of the official languages program.
In our opinion, implementation of the existing accountability framework should allow the Airport Authority to clearly define its roles and responsibilities with respect to official languages and give the program its due importance within the organization, as a first step. It is crucial that this framework be re-evaluated in the medium term in order to address some of the gaps identified above.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority strengthen its official languages accountability framework to include a description of the mechanisms used to meet its obligations under the Official Languages Act, a means of communicating this information to all employees and contracted service providers and a mechanism to encourage a more concerted and proactive approach to the official languages program in its various departments.
126.96.36.199 Action plan
The Airport Authority developed an action plan in late 2007 in response to the report card process and has indicated that it is committed to developing a more comprehensive action plan in the future. While this is an important first measure, we believe that the action plan should be revised promptly to include clear objectives, planned activities specifying timelines and areas of responsibility with performance indicators, as well as expected outcomes and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance and improve the availability of services in both official languages. The action plan should also be approved by the Executive Management Team and be communicated to all employees and specific third parties. Focusing on these elements would address important gaps in the action plan that were identified during our audit.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority strengthen its action plan for official languages to include clear objectives, specific actions with timelines, areas of responsibility, performance indicators, a communications strategy and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with its various obligations under the Official Languages Act. The implementation of the action plan should also be reviewed by the Executive Management Team on an annual basis.
3.1.2 Visibility of the official languages program
Ensuring that the official languages program is given adequate visibility within the organization and with the travelling public is an important component of a successful program. The audit examined the extent to which the organization had taken measures to increase the visibility and the integration of official languages in the Airport Authority’s corporate documents and its corporate culture.
Our findings reveal that, in general, the official languages program of the Airport Authority does not have the level of visibility that it should, and we found a number of examples illustrating this point:
- The official name of the corporation (Halifax International Airport Authority) and the recently updated airport logo are in English only.
- Our interviews indicated that many employees, Board members and some contracted service providers perceived the airport as an English entity and not as a bilingual one.
- The public documents that we examined had no mention of official languages and, although some parts of the Airport Authority’s Web site are in French, it does not always provide the information that is available in English.
- From our interviews, we learned that the general perception was that the Airport Authority was indeed concerned with official languages, but that the preferred approach was reactive, with corrective steps being taken only once complaints were received.
- In our examination of the Executive Management Team’s records of decisions, we noted that the issue of official languages was not discussed prior to the Airport Authority receiving our notice of intent to conduct the audit.
- The Airport Authority does not have an internal official languages policy or guidelines on communications with and services to the travelling public. Our interviews indicated that, from the Airport Authority’s point of view, a clause in the contracts of service providers and the distribution of an annual reminder were considered adequate to ensure awareness.
We were pleased to note that the President’s Report, which is distributed to the Board of Directors, has included a recurring item on official languages since September 2007. According to the Airport Authority, this report assists in raising awareness of official languages obligations among members of the Board of Directors. That being said, further efforts will be required by the Airport Authority to address some of the visibility gaps mentioned previously.
It is too early to assess the impact of the changes made to the official languages program in the fall of 2007 on the Airport Authority’s organizational culture. While we are aware of the Airport Authority’s decision to pay closer attention to official languages issues, we believe that it must do more in concrete, tangible ways to demonstrate its commitment to linguistic duality and to raising the visibility of the program among the airport’s key occupants to ensure that they take full responsibility for the bilingual services they are required to provide to the travelling public. To that end, we believe that an internal policy or guidelines for specific contracted service providers on service to the public in both official languages would be an important step in contributing to a real change in the organizational culture within the airport.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority:
a) take appropriate measures to demonstrate in concrete, tangible ways its commitment to promoting linguistic duality and to raising the visibility of the official languages program among the airport’s key occupants to ensure that they take full responsibility for the services they are required to provide to the travelling public in both official languages;
b) develop an internal policy that clearly defines the Airport Authority’s obligations and expectations with respect to bilingual services provided to the travelling public by its employees and by specific contracted service providers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
3.1.3 Communications and contracts
Managing an effective official languages program also means ensuring solid and clear communications with those who are responsible for its implementation. In the case of the Airport Authority, this means effectively communicating its official languages policies, plans and procedures to its managers, employees and contracted service providers to ensure that they know and understand their responsibilities under the Official Languages Act. It also means ensuring that contracts with specific third-party service providers clearly indicate the Airport Authority’s official languages obligations.
The audit’s overall findings, in this category, are that official languages obligations and responsibilities are not systematically and effectively communicated to the appropriate audiences.
For example, our interviews determined that a contract clause and a yearly reminder constitute the primary way in which the Airport Authority communicates its official languages responsibilities to its contracted service providers. As mentioned earlier, we also found that, at the time of the interviews, in general, people were not aware of the changes made to the official languages program or of the Airport Authority’s accountability framework and action plan.
Our interviews also showed that some contracted service providers as well as their employees were not sufficiently aware of their obligations to make an active offer of bilingual services and provide services in both official languages. Indeed, many of those interviewed said they had not been informed about their obligations, although a number of them recalled a clause in their contract. Most store managers interviewed indicated that they had not received any training on official languages and that they obtain their information through infrequent personal contact from their head office or through e-mails. Only some recalled a yearly reminder or conversations with various Airport Authority employees on the subject.
Furthermore, during the interviews, some managers were surprised to learn that they were required to make an active offer of bilingual services and provide services in both official languages. In the minds of some, their obligation is limited to making efforts to find someone to translate if the person requests the service in French and cannot communicate in English. Only one individual acknowledged the obligation to make the verbal active offer in both official languages.
Many contracted service providers also indicated that, if a person really wanted service in French, employees would seek the help of colleagues or, if it were open, the tourism booth (in person or by telephone) or, in some cases, a telephone service available from their head office. Very few requests of this nature have been made, however, and when they occur, they tend to involve various other languages such as German or Chinese, and not always French.
The Airport Authority also indicated that it uses the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism Information Centre to help provide services in both official languages. There is a toll-free language translation service to which the contracted service providers can subscribe. In addition, the Security Department provides service in both official languages from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Outside of these hours, security officers have access to the toll-free language translation service, and the Nova Scotia Tourism Information Centre provides bilingual services until 9 p.m., seven days a week.
In terms of communications with members of the travelling public, the Airport Authority’s Corporate Communications, Retail and Community Development Department regularly publishes ads in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick French-language newspapers to advise members of the travelling public of issues that may affect their travel plans.
The main challenge identified in all the interviews is the difficulty in finding and retaining bilingual personnel in Nova Scotia, especially at the airport, where there is no public transportation and low wages are common. This problem has been acknowledged by the Airport Authority, but no measures have been put in place to address it, as it is seen more as a concern for contracted service providers than for the Airport Authority itself.
Subsequent to our audit interviews, the Airport Authority established the Halifax Stanfield Merchants Association to serve as an informal venue for airport merchants to discuss a wide variety of issues, including complaints from the travelling public. The topic of official languages is a recurring agenda item and, among other things, the Association provides a forum for official languages discussions and reminds merchants of their official languages obligations.
Given the need to raise awareness among the Airport Authority’s employees and contracted service providers with respect to official languages obligations, we urge the Airport Authority to take concrete steps to promote and enhance awareness throughout the airport on the responsibilities and obligations linked to the active offer and delivery of bilingual services stipulated in the Act. This endeavour could take the form of a communications strategy and include an awareness campaign specifically targeting its contracted service providers. The goals of this campaign would be to clearly explain the official languages obligations in relation with service to the public and equip specific contracted service providers with the necessary tools to help them fulfill their language obligations. The Airport Authority could use official languages information tools developed by other institutions dealing with contracted service providers as a model.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority develop a communications strategy aimed at raising awareness of its official languages obligations among specific contracted service providers throughout the airport. A key component of the strategy should be a highly visible awareness campaign on the responsibilities and obligations linked to the provision of active offer and delivery of services in both official languages, accompanied by the necessary tools to help them fulfill these obligations.
The Airport Authority has informed us that a language clause is included in all contracts, but we have been able to verify only a small proportion of these contract clauses. We were provided with three generic clauses used in contracts and we examined specific clauses in the contracts of eight service providers.4
The clauses we analyzed varied from being very detailed to generic statements of required compliance with all applicable rules, regulations and by-laws, without specifically referring to official languages.5 We also noted that the Airport Authority no longer incorporates a liquidated damages clause into its retail contracts. Due to commercial sensitivities, the Airport Authority has never fined a contracted service provider for official languages non-compliance.
Since September 2007, the official languages clause inserted into contracts now reads as follows:
“The Lessee is a federal institution for the limited purposes contemplated in the Official Languages Act, and this Agreement is a contract for services to the travelling public as contemplated in the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations. As such, the Lessee shall ensure that all services provided under this Agreement are made available to the travelling public in both English and French.”
We recognize the importance of these clauses. However, in our view, they can be improved by consistently including specific provisions with respect to incentives for compliance or consequences of non-compliance.
We believe that, in all new contracts, the Airport Authority should continue to include a language clause that is reflective of the obligations of contracted service providers under the Act and its Regulations, including appropriate provisions to encourage compliance or address cases of non-compliance.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority add provisions to contracts with specific service providers that clearly outline incentives for compliance or consequences of non-compliance with respect to official languages obligations.
3.1.4 Engaging federal institutions
The final leadership component that the audit examined was the extent to which the Airport Authority engages federal institutions located at the airport in providing bilingual services. During our interviews, the Airport Authority clearly explained that it does not get involved in how federal institutions deliver their services to the travelling public or in any other official languages matters.
In our view, this type of engagement would have a significant positive impact on the way the Airport Authority fulfills its linguistic obligations and would enable the Halifax Stanfield International Airport to provide high quality services to the travelling public in both official languages. This horizontal dialogue would also encourage the sharing of best practices and enable institutions to jointly address common concerns.
The Commissioner recommends that, in the interest of providing quality services in both official languages to all travellers throughout their entire visit at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, the Halifax International Airport Authority take the lead and establish a joint working group with other federal institutions located at the airport to regularly discuss and address official languages issues.
3.2 Audit objective 2: Infrastructure and monitoring
The second key objective of the audit was to determine if the Airport Authority has the appropriate structures and resources in place to ensure the effective management of its official languages program, its coordinating role, and overall compliance with the Official Languages Act. The criteria pertaining to this objective were the following: effective human resources practices, a mechanism to deal with complaints, appropriate monitoring, the involvement of the official language minority community and reporting on official languages matters to the responsible federal authority.
3.2.1 Human resources management practices
When examining the overall management of an official languages program, it is important to look at the human resources management practices of the institution to see whether its recruitment, staffing, training and performance agreements reflect and integrate the obligation to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act.
During our interviews, Airport Authority officials indicated that, since only very few services are provided directly to the travelling public by its employees, they feel there is no apparent need for bilingual positions. At the time of the audit, there were no positions at the Airport Authority designated bilingual. Moreover, the only staff member who provides service to the travelling public is unable to do so in French. In our view, having an adequate number of bilingual employees would be a concrete way for the Airport Authority to demonstrate its commitment to Canada’s linguistic duality and fulfill its language obligations under the Act.
Although the Airport Authority has not designated any position as bilingual, the Operations Department had staffed a Customer Relations Assistant position with a bilingual person in June 2009. In addition, the Airport Authority has identified the Human Resources Administrative Assistant (front desk receptionist) and Customer Relations Manager positions as potential opportunities to hire bilingual replacement staff when the incumbents retire. As well, the Vice President, Human Resources, in consultation with the other members of the Executive Management Team, designates bilingual positions. We encourage these officials to examine this issue and take into consideration the need not only to have bilingual staff available to offer services, but also to adequately coordinate and monitor the implementation of the official languages program, and, in the context of the Airport Authority’s internal complaint resolution process, to deal with potential complaints from the travelling public. Moreover, the Airport Authority should consider allocating the necessary financial resources to language training so that the incumbents in these positions can meet the language requirements that would enable them to fulfill their official languages obligations.
Finally, our interviews determined that there is no official languages component in employee performance assessments, as performance evaluations only apply to the employees excluded from the union. However, one person reported having requested that a reference to official languages be inserted as one of that individual’s performance objectives for the past two years. In our view, making this a more widespread practice would help maintain an awareness of official languages responsibilities on the part of Airport Authority employees, in addition to increasing accountability among employees and management.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority review the language designation of its positions so that a sufficient number of bilingual positions exist to ensure the availability of services in both official languages, and that the travelling public can communicate with the Airport Authority in the official language of its choice. At the same time, this review should also address language training and recruitment needs.
3.2.2 Resolving official languages complaints
Resolving official languages complaints quickly and effectively is an important aspect of a successful official languages program. The audit examined the extent to which proper mechanisms are in place to deal with complaints and prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.
Although there have been few official languages complaints concerning services to the travelling public in particular, the Airport Authority has put in place a mechanism to manage such complaints. At the end of 2007, a flow chart was developed to document the status of the steps involved in addressing each complaint. Subsequently, the Executive Management Team, earlier briefed on the complaints resolution process, gave the chart its approval. As mentioned earlier in this report, the Airport Authority has also established an informal venue for airport merchants to discuss a wide variety of issues, including complaints from the travelling public.
Official languages complaints are handled through the legal department of the Airport Authority, with the assistance of the managers responsible for the various areas of activity. Periodic follow-ups are conducted until the matter is resolved. This process usually remains within the affected department, but the Executive Management Team is informed if the issue cannot be resolved at the departmental level.
In our view, it is important that the corrective measures taken in response to complaints be shared throughout the organization and with contracted service providers in an effort to prevent similar issues from recurring in the future and to promote good practices. The Airport Authority could also take steps to share such information with other federal institutions at the airport through a joint working group on official languages (see Recommendation 6).
3.2.3 Monitoring mechanisms and observation results
Effective and efficient monitoring is essential to ensuring full compliance with the Official Languages Act, and acts as a means to address compliance issues before they become complaints. During the course of the audit, we examined the monitoring mechanisms used by the Airport Authority, and conducted our own observations at the airport to determine the current level of compliance with the Act.
188.8.131.52 Monitoring mechanisms
As indicated earlier in this audit report, the Airport Authority is of the view that it offers few services directly to the travelling public. Indeed, the most important services intended for the travelling public are provided by contracted third parties, many of whom have the obligation to provide their services in both official languages.
Our interviews determined that the Airport Authority does not have a formal mechanism for monitoring and evaluating how those responsible for contracts are fulfilling their responsibilities under the Official Languages Act. Moreover, contracted service providers required to provide services in both official languages are not evaluated in terms of their bilingual capacity or the quality of bilingual services offered by their establishments. Furthermore, the Airport Authority is well aware of the weaknesses in the language capacity of its contracted service providers.
Despite the lack of a formal mechanism, the Airport Authority has taken a number of informal steps to monitor its overall operations, such as the contract agreement with specific service providers, reviewing feedback received from members of the travelling public, periodic reminders and spot checks conducted by employees reporting to the Customer Relations Manager, to verify the availability and quality of services to the travelling public in the official language of the linguistic minority.
The Airport Authority used to incorporate a liquidated damages clause into its retail contracts, which include, among other things, a line item for official languages. Due to commercial sensitivities, the Airport Authority has never fined a contracted service provider for official languages non-compliance under the Act.
Instead, annual reminders of their official languages obligations are sent to contracted service providers. In the case of specific incidents involving official languages, the Airport Authority manager who oversees a particular contract will meet the contracted service provider’s manager to provide a reminder of the requirement to comply with their official languages obligations and about existing support services. In accordance with its procedure, the Airport Authority reviews each complaint on a case-by-case basis and determines the best approach to assist in bringing the complaints to a satisfactory resolution.
While informal monitoring can sometimes yield results, in our view, it is not sufficient. It will be important that the Airport Authority implement more formal measures to ensure effective, efficient and continuous compliance both from its own organization and from the contracted service providers in the airport that are required to offer their services in both official languages. For example, the Airport Authority should consider developing innovative measures to this end, such as observations conducted by “mystery clients,” and, based on the results obtained, recognition initiatives or perhaps financial compensation. It will be equally important that the Airport Authority clearly communicate the consequences of non-compliance to these providers. It should also seek to include official languages in its internal audit plan.
From the perspective of establishing a more holistic approach to official languages compliance at the airport, we also encourage the Airport Authority to engage in more extensive coordination with the federal institutions located in the airport (see Recommendation 6).
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority:
a) implement formal mechanisms for the effective and efficient monitoring of compliance with the Official Languages Act from all contracted service providers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport that are required to provide their services in both official languages;
b) develop and implement innovative measures to encourage contracted service providers to meet their official languages obligations.
184.108.40.206 Observation results
As part of the audit process, the Airport Authority provided us with a list of contracted service providers at the airport with direct responsibility for the provision of services to the travelling public. We then conducted in-person observations of these establishments to determine the extent to which the Official Languages Act was being respected at the airport. Our findings are outlined below.
- Signage: Permanent signs throughout the airport are generally bilingual. Some signs indicating construction work and some temporary signs (that are the Airport Authority’s responsibility) were not bilingual at the time of our observations.
- Active offer: Some of the contracted service providers’ stores had a pictogram indicating that service was offered in both official languages. A verbal active offer of bilingual services was seldom made.
- Availability of services in French: Among the contracted service providers that are required to provide their services to the travelling public in both official languages, very few were able to do so or offered to get someone to help. However, we obtained satisfactory service from the tourism information office every time. This is consistent with the findings of the report card. Many announcements targeting specific individuals, for example, pertaining to flight changes and boarding announcements, were in English only. The airport has an automated announcement system for some prerecorded public interest announcements. The Airport Authority is looking at upgrading this system to convert flight data from various sources into bilingual announcements.
We believe that the Airport Authority’s performance in the area of active offer and delivery of services in both official languages would significantly improve by adopting a proactive approach to monitoring the quality and availability of the services delivered to the travelling public by the contracted service providers. The Airport Authority would clearly benefit from more effective, formal monitoring mechanisms (see Recommendation 8).
Earlier in this report, we mentioned the recent appointment of an official languages champion for the Airport Authority. We believe that the champion could play a major role in raising awareness about the obligations to make an active offer of bilingual services and provide announcements in both official languages throughout the airport.
3.2.4 Involvement of the official language minority community
During the course of this audit, we also examined whether the Airport Authority engaged official language minority community representatives in discussing improvements that could be made to enhance the bilingual image of the airport either on its own or in collaboration with federal institutions. We noted that the Airport Authority’s Marketing and Business Development Department is investigating the use of local French-language radio stations and newspapers to conduct promotional contests. In our view, this type of partnership is an important part of the process in maintaining and improving the provision of quality bilingual services at the airport.
From our interviews, we learned that discussions with the local Francophone community had not taken place, and the input of this community had not been specifically sought. However, we have learned that, since our audit, senior officials at the Airport Authority have met with the Director General of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse to discuss the Airport Authority’s official languages program.
The Airport Authority has a Community Outreach Program as well as a community consultative committee with the objective of providing ongoing dialogue and information on various airport-related matters, including planning, operations and municipal concerns. The committee meets at least twice a year and includes consumers and individuals representing a wide variety of industries, the travelling public and provincial and municipal governments. In 2008, the Airport Authority actively recruited a well-respected member of the local Francophone community to join this committee. Given these positive initiatives, we feel that the Airport Authority should pursue its efforts to seize every opportunity to extend its consultations and involvement with the local Francophone community.
From our point of view, this kind of dialogue will enable the Airport Authority to gain a better understanding of the needs of this Francophone community, and to tap into the knowledge and resources that the community may have to offer in areas such as the recruitment of bilingual personnel. The Airport Authority could play a leadership role in working with the official language minority community to help fill some of the gaps noted in official languages compliance on the part of its organization as well as specific contracted service providers at the airport.
We would also encourage the Airport Authority to include representatives from other federal institutions located within the airport (see Recommendation 6) in this dialogue with the community in order to address areas of concern to all parties.
The Commissioner recommends that the Halifax International Airport Authority use its community consultative committee and outreach program as an opportunity to create a dialogue with representatives of the official language minority community and discuss issues related to official languages at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport as well as potential solutions.
3.2.5 Reporting to the authorities responsible for official languages
The final criterion that was examined as part of this audit was whether the Airport Authority actively reports to the federal authorities in charge of official languages files. This kind of reporting is important to enable federal officials to monitor the progress of federal institutions subject to the Official Languages Act and identify any particular areas of concern.
The central agency that monitors the implementation of Part IV of the Official Languages Act and, in particular, its implementation by airport authorities is the Treasury Board Secretariat. The Treasury Board is required by law to submit an annual report on Parts IV, V and VI of the Act to Parliament. Each year, it sends a request to federal institutions, including airport authorities, for the relevant information needed to complete this report.
We noted during the audit that, despite receiving such a request, the Airport Authority did not report to the Treasury Board between 2001 and 2007. However, in 2008 and 2009, the Airport Authority provided the Treasury Board with the tables related to the Official Languages Information System II (OLIS II). We encourage them to continue to provide the necessary data and to complete the requested report.
4. Continental Air, Commissionaires Nova Scotia, National Rent-A Car, Down East Hospitality, Double Decker, AirRienta, Travelex and Vendco Services.
5. The Air Carrier, or any agent(s) of the Air Carrier, shall in all respects abide and comply with all applicable lawful rules, regulations, and by-laws of the federal, provincial or municipal governments or of any other governing body whatsoever. The Air Carrier, or any agent(s) of the Air Carrier, shall abide by and comply with all directives issued from time to time by the Airport Authority concerning the operation of the airport.