Sunday, February 10, 2008

Finally. Some language common sense

Randall Denley in the Ottawa Citizen is talking common sense when it comes to the federal public service hiring process which favours bilingual candidates only. In his piece, Time to rethink raison d'ĂȘtre for bilingualism, Denley writes about The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) appearance before a House of Commons committee. "Not only does that policy restrict access to public-service jobs for unilingual Canadians, the need to learn two new languages impairs the government's ability to hire visibility minorities, the union says. The whole situation is made worse by the failure to provide language training to employees," Denley reports.

You may recall that Mr. Bitterman made this statement about minorities (something Mr. Denley's colleague failed to realize) in an earlier blog -- It's the Language, Stupid!

The best point the union and Denley make, however, is that the level of bilingualism required in the public service is unrealistic. It's not needed. "One of the keys to fairness is taking a more realistic approach to the level of bilingualism that is actually required...language requirements should reflect the actual duties of the position. That seems self-evident, but the federal public service is pushing for fluency in jobs where surely adequacy would suffice. Maybe the boss's French, or English, isn't as good as that of a native speaker, but if you can communicate with him, what's the problem?"

Meanwhile, our friends at PWGSC are still fighting the good fight. One of their leaders, Sean MacInnes, wrote Mr. Bitterman, and he had this to say about their meeting with Official Languages: "Our meeting Tuesday was very successful. It lasted 90 minutes and there is an investigation taking place in (PWGSC) and we should know more in the coming weeks. Official Languages says they take all complaints very seriously and agreed that it appears excessive here. I'll keep you posted."

He encourages everyone who is fed up to complain. There's strength through numbers. Without this kind of common sense, the federal hiring policies regarding language make me angry.

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