Policy: 2.2.14 Official Languages

Effective date: January 1, 2003
Responsibility: Vice-President, People and Culture


The Corporation will communicate in both official languages in compliance with the Official Languages Act.


The Official Languages Policy applies to all CBC/Radio-Canada employees, in varying degrees, depending on geographic location of the workplace.


The CBC/Radio-Canada will ensure that the public can communicate with it in both official languages, in accordance with the circumstances and location of the office. Some locations are identified as “significant demand” in accordance with the Official Languages Regulations (see attached procedures). The CBC/Radio-Canada will also ensure that, in these locations, “active offer of service” (see definition), whether orally or in writing, is readily provided in both official languages.

For the purpose of language of work, the Corporation will ensure, that in areas designated as bilingual by the Act (see attached procedures), the environment is conducive to the use of both official languages, that employees can use the language of their choice and that members of the executive group meet the language requirements in accordance with the spirit of the government’s policy on this question. The Corporation has also designated some locations as having “partial bilingual responsibilities” to ensure that, where English and French services co-exist, departments serving both have the bilingual capacity to allow employees to get service in the language of their choice.

Where there is a requirement for the use of both languages, current incumbents may enroll in training courses to upgrade their language skill level. Where skill levels cannot be attained, alternative assignments will be considered. Inability to acquire a second language will not be grounds for separation. For staffing and promotion, qualified bilingual candidates will be a deciding factor.

The Corporation is committed to ensuring that English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians, without regard to their ethnic origin or first language learned, have equal opportunities to obtain employment and advancement.


The Vice-President of People and Culture, ensures compliance with the Official Languages Act. The Senior Manager, Employment Equity and Official Languages, is responsible for the interpretation of this policy. Managers are responsible for informing employees and implementing this policy.



Replaces previous Human Resources Policy:
Official Languages – Staffing Requirements no. 1.3

and Corporate Policy:
Official Languages at CBC/Radio-Canada no. 4.0


1. Service to the public

Significant demand: This concept is applicable in the context of communicating with the public. To evaluate “significant demand” the government considered the following factors: the minority population in the region served, the specificity of this minority, its proportion compared to the total population, the volume of communication and services provided. CBC’s significant demand offices were identified under the Official Languages Regulations (December 16, 1992) and the list is provided at the end of this document.

Active offer: The act indicates clearly the obligation for the Corporation to make known, orally or in writing, its readiness to provide services in both official languages. Two For examples would be : greeting callers with “Good morning/Bonjour” and/or “CBC/Radio-Canada comment puis-je vous aider/how may I help you” and for example, voice-mail messages identifying the respondents as you as a bilingual persons by registering bilingual messages.

Quality of service: When communicating with the public concerning subjects not related to programming, CBC/Radio-Canada must ensure that the services offered are of equal quality in both languages (reception, signage, documents, security, etc.)

Third party: Services provided by third parties on behalf of the Corporation (ex: SNC-Lavalin O&M, security services, cafeteria services, etc) shall be offered in accordance with the same principles as if they were offered by the Corporation itself.

2. Language of work

English and French are the languages of work at CBC/Radio-Canada. Employees have the right to use either official language, subject to their obligations respecting language of service, their supervisory responsibilities and their geographical location. The legislation identifies specifically what are the designated areas for the purpose of language of work. They are Northern and Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, the greater Montreal regions and the Gaspé peninsula and New Brunswick. Outside those areas, no legal obligations are imposed. (However, under what used to be known as Corporate Policy no. 4 on Official Languages, the Corporation identified, for many years, for the purpose of language of work, some locations as “fully bilingual” and others as “partially bilingual”. The downsizing and restructuring of the Corporation calls for a new approach while maintaining the principle that some services, common to both French and English Services in the regions, ought to be offered in the language of choice of the employee).

Head Office and Corporate Services: both official languages are to be used at all administrative levels and these departments must have the linguistic capacity (sufficient number of bilingual employees) to communicate in both languages with employees .

Locations where English and French services co-exist: Inat the Heads of the network centres :, in Montreal and Toronto, and in those regions where there are shared services, some departments, serving both services, must have the required bilingual capacity so that employees will be able to exercise their right to get these services in the language of their choices, for example Finance, HR, and IT.

It is important to distinguish these areas from those concerning “significant demand” offices identified by the legislation for communication with the public. Though some may be the same, they are less numerous and serve a different purpose relating that it relates to CBC/Radio-Canada’s obligations toward its employees. A list is provided at the end of this document.

3. Equitable Participation

The federal government has the responsibility of ensuring that the composition of the workforce within federal institutions reflects the presence of both official language groups in the general population, while taking into account the characteristics of the institution. The merit principle must be respected when staffing positions notwithstanding the requirements concerning service to the public and language of work.

4. Staffing

Where bilingualism is a requirement, managers have the responsibility to determine the appropriate language skills level for the position. The Corporation's "Second Language Evaluation" test will be used to determine the language skills level.

Recruitment criteria must include the language skills level.

Lack of ability to reach the level of ability will not be grounds for separation.

In accordance with the 1998 Federal government policy on language requirements for the executive group, it is expected that executives at Head Office and in designated bilingual regions, where applicable, will attain, within the timeframe required, the following levels, within the timeframe required : C (oral expression and comprehension), B (written expression) and C (written comprehension) with C being the most advanced level.

5. Training

Where bilingualism is a requirement, those individuals not at the required language level must enroll in training to bring them to the proper efficiency level.

6. Complaints

Any employee wishing to file a complaint arising from an alleged breach of this policy shall contact the Manager of Human Resources or the person responsible for Official Languages under the Senior Vice-President, Human Resources and Organization. The complaint will be the subject of an in-depth investigation and, if a breach has occurred, immediate action will be taken to follow up the complaint. The complainant will be informed of the conclusions of the investigation and remedial action will be taken. Employees are free at all times to contact the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

7. Roles and responsibilities

Human Resources Department: HR Managers must ensure that HR policies, programs and practices are consistent with this policy and applied in the offices they serve. As HR representatives consultants, they must provide managers and employees with advice and assistance help necessary to achieve their CBC/Radio-Canada’s official languages objectives.

8. Language of work: Locations with legal or policy obligations

Full bilingual obligations to have a bilingual capacity at all administrative levels and to serve employees in the language of their choice wherever they are located.

  • Head Office and Corporate Services
  • Radio Canada International

Partial bilingual obligations are those locations where English and French services co-exist and where departments serving both services (mainly HR, IT and Finance) must have the bilingual capacity necessary to allow employees to exercise their right to obtain those services in their own language.

  • English Network; Toronto
  • French Network; Montreal


  • Edmonton
  • Halifax
  • Moncton
  • Ottawa (production centers)
  • Regina
  • Vancouver
  • Winnipeg

Search highlight tool