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New Brunswick not meeting bilingual obligations, languages commissioner says

A sign in English and French in the city of Moncton, N.B.

Sandor Fizli/The Globe and Mail

The quality of government services in New Brunswick is compromised because second-language proficiency of public sector employees is not clearly defined nor monitored, the province's official languages commissioner says.

Katherine d'Entremont released her first annual report Tuesday calling for improvements in the delivery of government services in both English and French.

"Our study points to serious deficiencies with respect to the identification of bilingual staffing needs, required levels of second-language proficiency, and the effectiveness of language training for civil servants," d'Entremont said in a statement. "These deficiencies are often the cause of the complaints we receive and must be addressed."

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D'Entremont said advertisements for government jobs don't specify the level of proficiency in both languages and bilingual staffing guidelines are insufficient to ensure that the government's linguistic obligations are being met.

She also said the province's two health authorities need to step up their efforts to meet their linguistic requirements, adding that in some facilities receiving health care in French is the exception rather than the rule.

Her report issued five recommendations, including one that would see job postings clearly indicate the level of second-language proficiency required.

New Brunswick has been Canada's only officially bilingual province since 1969.

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