Another successful Spring Tune Up has come and gone but we at ACFO know that professional development is a priority for the FI Community all year long. Today I’d like to address another area of professional development: language training

Language requirements are an important factor for FIs considering their career plan. Because staffing falls within the employer’s jurisdiction, management has sole discretion over the language requirements for a given position. FIs should be aware that departments are increasingly requiring higher levels of language proficiency, in large part due to the employer’s legal obligations as a federal institution.

Under the Official Languages Act, employees in bilingual regions have the right to use services and work in either official language. In turn, managers and supervisors are required to communicate with employees in the official language of their choice and to facilitate a work environment that allows for the use of both official languages. Essentially this means that the higher up the position, the more likely it is to require bilingualism.

ACFO encourages all interested FIs to ask their manager about language training and to take advantage of language training if it is offered to them. The ability to speak both official languages can improve an FI’s chances for career mobility, flexibility and advancement. For more information, you can take a look at the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages’ website, which includes an online resource portal specifically tailored to public servants.

If you are interested in language training but unsure if your department offers it, or if you have requested training and been refused, we encourage you to contact a Labour Relations Advisor ( An LRA may be able to contact your department on your behalf, investigate the possibility of allocating professional development funds for language training or help you put together a compelling argument for why your training should be approved.


Danielle Viel

Labour Relations Advisor