ARCHIVED - III Creating a Workplace that Respects the Language Rights of its Employees

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C. Everyone Must Contribute to Achieving Results

Working in a second language is not always easy and may be discouraging without the support and understanding of co-workers. Out of fear of repercussions or concern for efficiency, whether well founded or not, public servants in the minority language group avoid using their first official language at work. This fact clearly emerged from the Anglophone focus groups in Montréal.

"Our department works in French... that’s it, that’s all!"
"To stay efficient, that’s what I did. I stay in French."
"You get together, even with your colleagues, and you don’t feel comfortable speaking your language."
"You have the choice. We feel that there will be consequences. If I speak to my boss in English, she won’t respect me. It’s just the attitude."
—Anglophone officer/administrative staff, Montréal

When told how their Anglophone colleagues feel, most Francophones seem surprised, while others (a minority) had difficulty understanding their views. One explanation for these reactions is that their own language rights are often not respected when they communicate with public servants in the NCR.

After they thought about it, Francophone participants recognized that respect must be both ways and that they must make more effort in this matter.

"We bend over backwards when someone from headquarters visits our office. We speak English to them, but we speak French with our Anglophone colleagues here because they all know French. If I was in their shoes, yes, I can understand it’s frustrating."
"It’s a matter of simple respect to send it out in both languages."
—(translation) Francophone officer/administrative staff, Montréal

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