The federal Treasury says it has no plans to extend a bonus – now paid to staff who speak English and French – to those who speak an indigenous language.
The Bilingualism Bonus consists of an additional US$800 per year employees receive when working in a position that requires proficiency in English and French, Canada’s two official languages.
The expansion to include staff who speak an Indigenous language was among proposals made by senior officials late last year when they were discussing ways to address language issues faced by some Indigenous officials.
Hiring is difficult – especially for employers looking for bilingual talent. Here’s why
Some detail of these considerations was contained in an informational memo released to The Canadian Press under the federal Access to Information Act.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, a union representing more than 120,000 federal employees reporting to the Treasury Board, has proposed creating an indigenous language allowance to introduce compensation for those who use one in the course of their work.
National President Chris Aylward said the union has identified nearly 500 federal employees who speak an Indigenous language at work.
“It’s a discriminatory practice,” he said in an interview. “When their colleagues get an allowance to speak a second language and these workers don’t? How can this government justify that?”
“This is a very progressive and, in our opinion, a very tangible way for the government to recognize the importance of indigenous languages in Canada. it’s a win-win situation.”
‘Significant decline’ in French language use in Canada ‘no surprise’: Trudeau
Aylward said the union, which has been negotiating a new deal with the government for more than a year, is also proposing to increase the bilingualism bonus to $1,500 from the current $800 and wishes the same compensation to be given to Indigenous language speakers.
“We definitely believe that indigenous workers should be recognized for the language they speak.”
The bilingualism bonus is intended to support the government’s commitment to allowing government employees to work in the language of their choice — a measure required of federal institutions under the country’s Official Languages Act, said Alain Belle-Isle, a spokesman for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
Parliament Hill translators say bilingualism is under threat from unaccredited recruitment
“The Treasury Department has no plans to expand the scope of the bilingualism bonus to include indigenous languages,” Belle-Isle said in a statement.
In a follow-up statement, a spokesman in the office of Mona Fortier, the minister responsible for the Treasury Department, said it was committed to creating an inclusive public service and working with partners to remove barriers to employment and career advancement.
“We will never change the fundamental principle of bilingualism in the civil service,” Scott Bardsley wrote, adding that more than 40 percent of federal jobs require bilingual skills.
He also pointed to an increase in indigenous representation in senior levels of government, reported at 4.4 percent in 2020-21, up from 3.7 percent in 2015-16.
The Inuit group works to preserve the Inuktitut language using social media
Preserving and promoting indigenous languages is one of the promises of reconciliation prioritized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal government. In 2019, it passed legislation designed to help Indigenous communities revitalize languages that government policy has banned their members from speaking under the boarding school system, which has existed for more than a century.
Newly released 2021 census data shows a slight decrease in the number of people who said they could speak an indigenous language.
Canada should offer Indigenous language classes, exceptions for public servants: memo
Statistics Canada also reported a decrease in the percentage of people who say they speak French at home.
Lori Idlout, the New Democrat Assemblyman for Nunavut, who speaks for Inuktitut, said she plans to try to get the Treasury Department to change course.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” she said. “I am frustrated.”
The lawmaker believes that federal employees who can speak an Indigenous language, such as Inuktitut, should provide better service to Indigenous residents and be entitled to the same benefits as their colleagues who speak English and French.
“Canada was founded on indigenous lands, First Nations, Metis, Inuit lands, and if reconciliation is to be accomplished is this one of the ways it must be done? they must be of the same value as bilingual English or French federal officials.”
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/9078634/canada-bilingualism-bonus-indigenous-language/ No plans to include indigenous languages for bilingualism bonus, Feds say – National