Canada (Federal)
Country/Region: Canada (Federal)
Name of Member: Ghislaine Saikaley
Interim Commissioner
Name of Office: Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Ghislaine Saikaley has worked in the public service for 31 years, 16 of them as an executive. She has considerable and varied experience as a senior manager from her work in commissions, boards and administrative tribunals, where she provided advice and support to executives. With her extensive experience in operations at both the regional and national levels, she developed numerous partnerships with community and paralegal groups. She has a wide knowledge of the issues in the fields of law and corrections, as well as immigration and official languages. During her academic and professional careers, she has developed an expertise in investigations, audits, conflict resolution and competency-based staffing. She is currently completing a certificate in Lean Management.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in criminology, Ms. Saikaley began her career with Correctional Service Canada in 1985 and over the next 14 years held various positions, many of which were in management, both in the regions and at headquarters.

In 1999, she took her skills in developing conditional release policies and joined the National Parole Board as the Director of Investigations/Audits and Clemency/Pardons. From 2000 to 2003, she was the Director of Operations at the Public Service Commission of Canada’s Recourse Branch.

In 2003, she joined the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) as the Director General of the Immigration Division, one of the three IRB tribunals. From 2003 to 2008, she was the official languages champion at IRB.

Ms. Saikaley joined the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages in July 2008 as the Assistant Commissioner of the Compliance Assurance Branch. She is responsible for investigations, audits and performance measurement pursuant to the provisions of the Official Languages Act.

Ghislaine Saikaley<br />Interim Commissioner

The mandate of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages is to promote the Official Languages Act, oversee its full implementation, protect the language rights of Canadians and promote linguistic duality and bilingualism in Canada. Since 1969, the Office has had a mandate to take all measures within its power to ensure that the three main objectives of the Official Languages Act are met, which are: the equality of English and French in federal institutions, the preservation and development of official language communities and the equality of English and French in Canadian society. Further, the Commissioner carries out the following six roles: an ombudsman role (investigating complaints), an auditing role (auditing federal institutions to ensure compliance with the Act), a liaison role (to better understand the needs and concerns of federal institutions and official language communities), a monitoring role (primarily of laws, regulations and policies in development to ensure they respect the spirit and intent of the Act), a promotion and education role (to raise awareness of official languages in Canada) and a court intervention role (to advance language rights before the courts, when necessary).

More information on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada.

Canada has two official languages, English and French. Their status is entrenched in the country’s history, conferring rights and institutional support for Anglophones and Francophones. In the 2011 Census, 5.8 million people nationwide reported being able to conduct a conversation in both English and French, which corresponds to a bilingualism rate of 17.5%. In 1961, the percentage was 12.2%, when 2.2 million Canadians reported being able to speak both official languages. This increase in the number of bilingual people over the past 50 years (close to 3.6 million people) corresponds to a growth rate of close to 160%. During this period, Canada’s population increased by 82%, from 18.2 million to 33.1 million. While the number of people in Canada whose mother tongue is neither English nor French has increased substantially since the mid-1980s, immigrants to Canada tend to adopt one of the two official languages as their home language with increasing length of stay in Canada.

The 2012-2013 annual report is a summary of Commissioner Graham Fraser’s achievements during his first mandate, which ran from 2006 to 2013. It examines the progress of linguistic duality during a period that was marked by a severe financial crisis that continues to reverberate in all areas of the federal public service. The annual report also describes what still has to be done to ensure that English and French have truly equal status across Canada. The statement to the media for the launch of Graham Fraser's 2012-2013 annual report, is available on the Office’s Web site, along with a series of other important speeches given by the Commissioner.

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