Support document for measuring demand for services in both official languages


This document is intended to support all institutions that have to measure demand for services in both official languages at their offices. Under certain circumstances described in the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) RegulationsFootnote 1(Regulations) and the associated Directive, the Directive on the Implementation of the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) RegulationsFootnote 2 (Directive), measurement of demand for services is a requirement.

Methods and conditions conducive to the measurement of demand

The support document specifically lists a few methods for measuring demand for services in both official languages (Section A). It also describes the conditions conducive to a rigorous exercise to collect data on this subject (Section B).

Services to aid in the development of an assessment project

Institutions may call on the expertise of Statistics Canada, which is well aware of the requirements of demand assessment projects. Some of these services are free while there may be a charge for others.

Restricted and identifiable clientele

Offices serving a public that meets the operational definition of restricted and identifiable clientele as set out in the Directive can choose any method as long as language preference is shown for each client at each office so that demand for each official language can be determined. For example, institutions may conduct an enumeration of their clients or use administrative data.


Furthermore, although the Directive requires linguistic obligations to be reviewed every ten (10) years by offices subject to a provision regarding specific circumstancesFootnote 3 if their linguistic obligations are based on the public's demand at their offices, the deputy head may choose to measure demand more frequently.

Document retention requirements

Due to the constitutional and quasi-constitutional nature of language rights, documents that have been used to measure demand should be retained so that the institution can answer any questions at any time, at least until further data on clients' language preference is collected.

A. Methods appropriate for measuring demand

Here are some possible methods for collecting data on the public's language preference:

  1. Intercepting telephone calls
  2. Telephone follow-up
  3. Telephone calls using a list of clients
  4. Correspondence based on a list of clients (hard copy or electronic)
  5. At office reception area
  6. Question card
  7. Radio transmissions (when the service is delivered by this method)
  8. Questions in the office request forms (hard copy or electronic)

B. Conditions conducive to rigorous data collection

The assessment methods are objective: data sampling, collection and analysis are based on proven techniques.
Independent entity:
A third party independent of the entity that usually provides the public with service is in charge of the exercise.
The objective of the exercise is clearly explained to respondents. For example, the objective is to determine whether or not the Official Languages Act requires the office to provide services in both official languages.
Choice of official language:
Respondents may provide their answers in the official language of their choice. All documentation for respondents used for the exercise is bilingual.
Interviewer qualifications:
Interviewers are bilingual and are made aware of the characteristics of the sociolinguistic environment in which the data are collected.
Respondents' anonymity is respected.
Information is obtained using methods that take into account the office's modes of communication with and service delivery to its clientele.
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