Air Canada reduces language complaints, remains top recipient among regulated institutions

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“Despite a decrease in the number of language-related complaints filed against Air Canada, the airline still leads in receiving the most language complaints nationwide, according to Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge. In his annual report, Théberge noted a total of 847 valid complaints during the 2023-2024 year, with 130 of those complaints directed towards Air Canada. While this represents a significant decrease from the previous year, it still highlights ongoing challenges for the airline in meeting its language obligations.

Air Canada’s Response and Official Languages Action Plan

Air Canada spokesperson Christopher Hennebelle acknowledged the commissioner’s report and stated that the number of complaints received by the airline had decreased by more than half since the previous year. Hennebelle also mentioned the upcoming release of an Official Languages Action Plan, highlighting the airline’s commitment to addressing language-related issues. He emphasized that Air Canada, as an institution subject to the Official Languages Act, interacts the most with the public, which may contribute to the higher number of complaints.

Decrease in Complaints Nationwide and Historical Context

Théberge commented on the overall decrease in complaints filed in 2023-2024, noting that it marked a departure from previous years with high complaint volumes. While he could not definitively attribute this decrease to improved adherence to official languages laws, he highlighted the impact of significant events on complaint numbers. For instance, he referenced a past incident where the CEO of Air Canada delivered a speech only in English, sparking over 2,000 complaints. Théberge suggested that such high-profile incidents raise awareness of language rights among Canadians, leading to an increase in complaints.

Ultimately, the decrease in language-related complaints against Air Canada and other institutions may indicate progress in promoting linguistic rights and adherence to official languages laws. However, it also underscores the ongoing need for vigilance in ensuring that all Canadians can access services in their preferred official language. As the Commissioner of Official Languages continues to monitor language compliance and advocate for linguistic diversity, it remains important for institutions like Air Canada to prioritize language inclusivity and address any issues that may hinder equal access for all Canadians.”



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