Airports in the West ignore their linguistic obligations
FRANCOPRESSE – The Office of the Commissioner for Official Languages received a total of 51 complaints against the Calgary and Regina airports over a twelve-month period. These federal agencies, which are subject to the Official Languages Act, have notably failed to install signs and offer French services, according to investigative reports, a copy of which was obtained by Francopresse.
Official Languages Commissioner Raymond Théberge reports a recurring problem. Image: Courtesy
In total, COL received 44 complaints against the Airport Authority of Calgary (AAC) and seven against the Airport Authority of Regina (AAR).
Complaints to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (COL) relate not only to signage and services inside airports, but also to communications intended for the public on their social networks and websites.
Last November, Francopresse reported that the Commissioner of Official Languages had ruled that 25 of the 26 complaints received against the Winnipeg airport were admissible. .
Translation made in google
Visitors who select the “French” option on the Calgary airport website can access texts translated by Google Translate.
However, in a comment to the Official Languages Commissioner’s preliminary investigation report, the airport management assured that its website will be optimized from February 2022 and budgeted to provide a fully translated version of yyc .com by the end. The year 2022.
At the time of publication, the French version of the website was not complete.
The Google Translate tool on the Calgary airport website translates it as “derailed.” Image: Screenshot
The airport management told Francopresse that it is “in the process of preparing an optimization plan” to be able to offer a website in French. “We have officially translated all our press releases, all new pages launched this year, all images on the home page carousel and all traffic notices,” the agency said.
There are little or no French language offerings on the internet
While the “Traveller Information” section and home page of the Regina International Airport (YQR) website have now been translated into French, the content of the “YQR News” section is only available in English.
On his Twitter account, airport publications are also written only in the language of Shakespeare. This was already the case on 3 March 2021, according to one of the complainants cited in the Official Languages Commissioner’s final investigation report.
However, in the same report, the Regina Airport Authority claims to serve the traveling public in both official languages. “However, social media are not essential elements of travel,” he believes in his response to the commissioner’s report.
The body believes that “all content published on digital media platforms should be information intended only for the traveling public and not in both official languages”.
Imprecise definition of “public travel”.
Commissioner Raymond Théberge notes that airports sometimes choose a restrictive definition of the “travelling public”. A definition that would be limited to people physically present or traveling at the airport.
However, in his briefing on Bill C-13, the Official Languages Commissioner points out that the Act also applies to those seeking information.
“The traveling public should include, in particular, those who use services and communications offered by federal agencies to travel or intend to travel. This includes the preparation steps for the trip, the moment of travel and the period after the end of the trip,” he explains in the document.
The Regina Airport Authority declined to comment when contacted by Francopresse.
Another inconsistency pointed out in various investigative reports, a copy of which was obtained by Francopresse: some employees’ voice mailbox greetings are only in English. This was still the case for media services at the Calgary and Regina airports at the time of publication.
Content on the Regina International Airport Twitter account is in English only. Image: Screenshot
It should be noted that the telephone greetings of the persons responsible for the official languages within these two institutions are only in English.
A recurring issue
Year after year, the Office of the Official Languages Commissioner continues to receive complaints about airports. The latter mentions a recurring problem in the 2021-2022 annual report.
A problem that can be partially solved as proposed by Bill C-13. At least Raymond Theberge hopes so. Because currently the commissioner’s recommendations are not binding. “Complying with the law-abiding state remains voluntary. But that is set to change with Bill C-13,” he notes.
The draft law proposes to allow the commissioner to issue administrative fines in the field of transport in certain cases.