Direct Services to the Public
Description and cooperation
Since 2008, in cooperation with the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and the Ministry of Finance, the LCBO has made a great effort and a commitment to improve its delivery of French-language services to its Francophone customers, who are, like its Anglophone customers, entitled to flawless service.
The LCBO is a Crown corporation that reports to the Ministry of Finance of Ontario. It has 634 stores in Ontario, 112 of which are designated to provide service in French, in accordance with the French Language Services Act. The LCBO makes more than 124 million transactions a year and offers a range of 18,000 products. As a government agency, therefore, it is an important provider of services to Ontarians.
LCBO, whose official French name is Régie des alcools de l’Ontario, stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario.The latter name has been replaced by the abbreviation LCBO, but it has not completely disappeared—it is now used only in official documents such as the annual report. Adoption of the abbreviation stems from a marketing decision to make the LCBO brand more recognizable to Anglophone and Francophone consumers. The LCBO maintains that it followed the example of other corporations whose names are abbreviations, such as General Motors (GM), International Business Machines (IBM) and the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ). The LCBO trademark is now familiar to Ontario consumers, both Anglophones and Francophones.
Recruitment of bilingual staff
The LCBO has developed a database on retail employees so that their oral proficiency in French can be checked. The database shows which store each employee works at, and makes it easier for senior managers to make effective decisions concerning the need to recruit bilingual employees, particularly for stores with designated positions.
Other efforts related to the hiring of bilingual staff have been made to improve the delivery of French-language services. In 2013, to boost active offer, the LCBO confirmed that it was expanding language training for employees, raising the language requirements of designated positions, and improving the identification of designated stores with new signs and the identification of bilingual employees with pins.
English-only service at the cash
The LCBO has developed a detailed guide on French-language services for the management of designated stores. The guide includes a description of the responsibilities of staff members under the French Language Services Act. The LCBO uses it as a training tool for staff with the aim of improving its active offer of service in French at the checkout.
The LCBO says that it is working hard to fill designated positions with bilingual employees, and that its recruitment strategy is geared to achieve that goal. In addition, the public can find stores that offer bilingual service using this store locator. In some cases, however, designated positions are filled by unilingual English employees. Similarly, despite the above-mentioned efforts, the LCBO admits that there are sometimes gaps in the provision of French-language services at the cash in its designated stores. The Commissioner’s Office invites citizens to report any such shortcomings.
“Allo LCBO” customer service
The LCBO has improved its customer service in French with the introduction of the Allo LCBO infocentre (helloLCBO in English). Citizens have access to services and information in both French and English online and by phone, TTY, chat and e-mail. The site also has a French-language “Frequently asked questions” section that covers various topics, including store locations, international orders and delivery.
Food and Drink
The Food and Drink magazine is certainly popular. The LCBO prints 23,000 copies of the French version of every edition. For the moment, the LCBO has no plans to increase the number of copies, but it is making every effort to meet the demand across the province and adjust store-by-store distribution as required.
At times, however, demand exceeds supply, especially during the holiday period, when copies disappear quickly and there are not enough of them in either language. The LCBO tells its customers that they can subscribe to the magazine by contacting its French Language Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, most of the magazine’s recipes are available in French online.
In 2013, the Ministry of Finance, to which the LCBO reports, undertook development of a strategy to comply with both the Communications in French Policy and the French Language Services Act. One year later, the LCBO provided confirmation to the Commissioner’s Office that thematic posters and signs in French would be installed in stores located in designated areas, and not just in the largest stores. These French-language promotional displays are as prominently placed as the English displays. The Commissioner’s Office is delighted with these new measures, which improve compliance with the LCBO’s obligations under the French Language Services Act, but it is nevertheless counting on the public to report instances where stores are failing to comply.
Permanent and operational signage
In Ontario’s 25 designated areas, the operational signage in every LCBO store must be bilingual. This type of signage includes stores’ permanent signs and general notices, such as those in the aisles and for customer service.
Following a large number of complaints in 2011 and 2012 and a subsequent intervention by the Commissioner’s Office concerning shortcomings in bilingual operational signage, the LCBO issued a special edition of its signage catalogue for stores in designated areas. Intended for internal use only, the catalogue clearly outlines the obligations with regard to bilingual signage and provides managers and staff members with specific instructions on how to order bilingual signs and install them in their store.
The catalogue was distributed to stores in designated areas and should help reduce discrepancies in bilingual signage and the number of operational signage violations.
Wine tasting offer
Determined to provide quality service in both French and English, the LCBO offers wine tastings in French across the province. For example, wine appreciation courses in French are offered in the Greater Toronto Area, and the Francophone population is invited to attend.
Such activities require active participation by the community. Without demand, there can be no supply. In the past, the Commissioner’s Office was told that because of poor attendance, the LCBO had cancelled these courses in the GTA. The LCBO promises to offer more wine tasting activities in Toronto as long as Francophones and their Francophile friends attend!
The LCBO website is exemplary with regard to service in French. You can search for products and recipes in French, subscribe to the various magazines in French, and learn about the seasonal sales. The site clearly reflects the LCBO’s desire and commitment to provide both Francophone customers and Anglophone customers with good service. From that perspective, the site appears to be flawless and equitable.