New Ministry of Energy program

Most of the time, our day-to-day investigation work tends to remain behind the scenes. For obvious reasons, we focus our communications efforts on long-term investigation reports. Nevertheless, we do some rather important work every day, work that the public doesn’t know about. Our complainants are more aware of that work, since they receive regular communications from us. In that respect, we now have new standards for service to the public. We take great pride in how meticulously we adhere to them.

This week, the Ministry of Energy was in the hot seat. That’s because, in announcing a new program entitled the Affordability Fund, the Ministry was accused in the media, particularly social media, of failing to comply with the requirements of the French Language Services Act. We responded immediately, posting on social media that we were looking into the issue. The public was concerned that the beneficiaries of this new program would have to complete a form that was available in English only. Yet the Ministry website clearly suggested that the form was available in French.

One of our investigators immediately opened a file, since the Ministry of Energy is obviously subject to the FLSA. In other words, there were no admissibility or jurisdiction issues.

Then our investigator decided to telephone the Ministry directly rather than send an official form. The ensuing conversation between our office and the Ministry had a very rapid, positive effect, in that the Ministry quickly realized the error and corrected it with the same diligence. The French version of the form was already online, but there was an error on the home page.

In short, everything was fixed. The file was opened, the complaint was deemed founded, the issue was resolved in just a few days, and it took only a few phone calls.

It would be appropriate to consider whether the problem was a systemic one, but we decided to let this one pass since this Ministry usually complies quite thoroughly with FLSA requirements. The Ministry nevertheless pledged to exercise better quality control in the future.

There will always be blunders, gaffes and faux pas, and the French-language services sector is not immune. In fact, that is, in part, the reason for the existence of the Commissioner’s Office.
I wrote this blog post to illustrate the fact that, in concrete terms, we sometimes get much better results with rapid intervention than with a complaint process that can linger.

And while she was at it, our investigator took advantage of the opportunity to check the bilingual capacity of the Ministry’s managers by telephoning and requesting service in French, which she received without delay.
This has been a glimpse of what we do in our day-to-day work.

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