Bilingual Positions in the Public Service: FAQs

  • What are the possible official language requirements for positions in the Public Service of Canada?

In the Public Service of Canada, all positions are identified as either unilingual or bilingual.

Unilingual positions are specified as either "English essential", "French essential", or "English or French essential". Bilingual positions require the use of both English and French.

For bilingual positions, there are three second language skills: reading, writing and oral interaction.

  • What is a linguistic profile?

A linguistic profile identifies, for bilingual positions, the level of proficiency required for each of the language skills, in both official languages. There are three possible levels that may be required:

  1. Level A (beginner);
  2. Level B (intermediate);
  3. Level C (advanced).

Certain positions may require specific language proficiency acquired through specialized training (code P), such as that required for a translator's position.

  • Who is responsible for determining the language requirements of a position and, in the case of a bilingual position, the linguistic profile?

The manager of the work unit where the position is located is responsible for determining the language requirements and, as applicable, the language profile of a position. The decision is based on an objective assessment of the duties and responsibilities of the position.

  • How can managers objectively determine the linguistic profile of a bilingual position?

Managers can refer to the Qualifications Standards in Relation to Official Languages. This document describes each of the qualifications for bilingual positions and provides examples of linguistic profiles. A tool, Determining the Linguistic Profile of Bilingual Positions, is also available to assist managers.

  • External appointment processes for bilingual positions posted on the PSC Web site usually mention the linguistic profile of the positions. I would like to be tested in my second official language to ensure that I only apply for jobs with language profiles that I can meet. What should I do to be tested?

For candidates from outside the Public Service, Second Language Evaluation tests are only administered in the context of appointment processes held to staff bilingual positions. The tests usually take place toward the end of the appointment process, after candidates have been assessed and found qualified for all other requirements. Federal government employees may be tested for appointment processes and other reasons, as determined by the requesting department.

  • I am equally proficient in both official languages. In what language should I be tested?

You should first determine whether English or French is your first official language. If English is your first official language, you should be tested in French (and vice-versa).

  • I have some knowledge of French and would be willing to go on language training in order to improve my French and meet level B. Can this be done?

Before staffing a bilingual position, the manager must decide if the position will be staffed on an imperative or non-imperative basis. An imperative appointment process means that a person must meet the language requirements at the time of appointment

A non-imperative appointment process means that the position can be staffed by a person who agrees to become bilingual through language training at government expense within the two year exemption period. Imperative appointment process is the norm; non-imperative appointment process is the exception.

  • What is a bilingual region for language of work purposes?

In a region designated bilingual for language of work purposes, federal institutions must ensure that the work environment is conducive to the effective use of both official languages and that their employees may exercise the right to use either language, subject to the obligations to serve the public and other employees.

Bilingual regions include:

  • the National Capital Region
  • parts of Northern and Eastern Ontario
  • the Montreal area
  • parts of the Eastern Townships, Gasp├ęsie and Western Quebec
  • New Brunswick

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