PSAC and Treasury Board release joint report on the use of Indigenous languages in the public service

The report of the Joint Committee on Indigenous Languages has been published, revealing the results of the first-ever survey on the use of Indigenous languages in 24 departments and agencies across the federal public service. The report highlights the context and scope of the use of Indigenous languages by members of the Program and Administrative Services (PA), Education and Library Science (EB) and Parks Canada bargaining units. 

The Joint Committee was formed because of a memoranda of understanding signed during the 2018 round of collective bargaining which committed the employer and the union to gather information on the use of Indigenous languages by members of the three bargaining units. The committee began meeting in late 2020 and surveys were distributed to departments in the fall of 2021. The results of these surveys are summarized in the report.  

Key Takeaways from the Report  

  • In total, the report identifies 460 federal public service workers as using Indigenous languages in the workplace.  

  • Very few job descriptions reflect a requirement to use an Indigenous language; although 460 employees were identified as using an Indigenous language on the job, only 44 job descriptions for these employees contained a reference to Indigenous languages. 

  • Indigenous languages were reported as being used in the workplace in a wide range of contexts, including service delivery, program development and delivery, education, duty to consult, negotiations, heritage and historic sites designation and management, natural areas establishment, conservation and operations, legislation and policy development, and legal or contractual obligations. 

Despite the information published in the joint report, Treasury Board has continued to deny a need to recognize employees who use Indigenous languages in the course of their work. In the most recent round of bargaining this past April, Treasury Board negotiators staunchly denied PSAC’s demand for an Indigenous language allowance.  

In our most recent round of bargaining, PSAC did make gains for teachers in the EB group who are qualified to teach Indigenous languages, which corrected a longstanding injustice for these members. Now, a teacher employed at Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) who is qualified and assigned to teach an Indigenous language (in Tyendinaga, Ontario; Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario; and, Cold Lake First Nations, Alberta) will receive an annual allowance of $1,015.  

PSAC remains committed to addressing the systemic inequalities and discrimination faced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada and will continue to hold Treasury Board accountable to recognize the work done by federal public service workers who use Indigenous languages in the workplace.  

To learn more about the use of Indigenous languages by PSAC members, consult the committee's report


July 6, 2023