-------- Bilingualism in emergencies
The COVID 19 pandemic has exposed shortcomings in terms of bilingualism in emergency situations—shortcomings also observed in previous emergencies.
I consulted Canadians last June to gain a better understanding of how they were experiencing the pandemic from an official languages perspective and what their experiences had been during previous crises. This information helped to define the problems and to propose solutions to the federal government about its communications with the public during emergencies.
Today, I am releasing my report, "A Matter of Respect and Safety: The Impact of Emergencies on Official Languages". It highlights the importance of communicating with Canadians in their first official language during an emergency in order to inform, reassure, and give them instructions they can understand and carry out.
The report presents my recommendations to the federal government to address recurring official-languages problems that Canadians are having in crisis situations.
The solutions proposed range from integrating official languages into emergency planning by facilitating the drafting and delivery of emergency communications in English and French, to implementing a strategy for reviewing the effectiveness of existing communications plans and procedures for emergency preparedness.
I urge federal institutions to implement the proposed measures so that in the coming months they can make meaningful progress in communicating in both official languages during emergency situations.
Any questions or comments, please e mail: Languesofficielles-OfficialLanguages@CLO-OCOL.GC.CA
Raymond Théberge, Commissioner of Official Languages