Airport International News - August 2012
Undercover Watchdog Investigates Canadian Airports
Posted by Victoria Knowles - Airport International Reporter on 09/08/2012 - 10:30:00
An undercover bilingualism watchdog are investigating eight airports in Canada. The covert detectives are investigating whether passengers are being assisted equally in both languages, English and French.
More than 1,500 observations will take place in the Autumn by auditors posing as travellers at airports in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Halifax, Quebec City, Edmonton and Vancouver.
In 2007, a similar project was carried out, returning dismal results. Vancouver received 30 out of a possible 100 score, whilst Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax recorded 39, 56 and 42, respectively.
This assignment will cost up to $90,000 of the public’s money. Never so many of these audits have been executed at one time. "I've been interested in the language rights of the travelling public really throughout my mandate," said Official Languages Commissioner, Graham Fraser.
Undercover Watchdog Investigates
"So at different times, we've been looking at different aspects of what the traveller's experience is. We've looked at border services, we've done an audit of Air Canada's service to the public, and now we're looking at airports."
Surveillances include checking that signs are bilingual, that staff provide a greeting in both languages, and that services are available in the less predominantly spoken language in a particular area.
Airports that receive more than one million passengers annually are obligated to provide services in English and French. Employees of onsite businesses and services do not have to speak both languages, but there must always be a bilingual member of staff present to provide assistance to customers of either tongue.
Observations will be made in the airport and on bilingual flights. "We get a lot of complaints about Air Canada," said Fraser. "Often there are complaints about announcements that are not made in both languages, services that are not given by personnel. It's often directed at Air Canada, but sometimes it also applies to the airport authorities themselves."
Last year, the commission received 39 language related complaints from clients of the airline. In the same year, a man successfully sued Air Canada for $12,000 for not providing an efficient French service on his flight.
Image Copyright Koos Fernhout Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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