4.20. Official languages obligations in procurement
- The Government has the obligation to serve and communicate with the public in both official languages, pursuant to the Official Languages Act (OLA) and all regulations thereunder including the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations (for the purposes of this section, the term “OLA” refers to both the Act and Regulations).
- The basic rule is that any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with and to receive available services in either official language.
4.20.1 The Official Languages Act (OLA) and the publication of procurement notices and related tender documents on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS)
- All procurement notices and related tender documents posted on the GETS must be in both official languages. The French and English content must be of equal quality and be published at the same time.
- This means that all procurement notices and related tender documents must be translated prior to posting on the GETS.
- Notices and related tender documents subject to these obligations include but are not limited to:
- notices of proposed procurement (NPPs);
- solicitations (e.g. RFPs, RFSOs, RFSAs);
- advance contract award notices (ACANs);
- requests for information (RFIs);
- letters of interest (LOIs);
- invitations to Qualify (ITQs);
- forms, standards, purchase descriptions, statements of work, resulting contracts, blueprints, architectural drawings, reports, graphics and other documentation that is included as part of a tender package;
- any other notices posted on the GETS;
- amendments to any of the above.
- Proper translation of government content is essential to ensure the integrity of the procurement process and to ensure that procurements are not adversely affected. Acquisition Program (AP) contracting officers and clients should note the standard for government content with regard to the Official Languages Act in section 1.3 of the Canada.ca Style Guide, namely that government content must:
- be professionally translated (for equal quality in both official languages);
- reflect Canadian writing conventions in French and English;
- include fully bilingual images, multimedia files and transcripts, or contain equivalent information in both official languages.
- For translation services, AP contracting officers are encouraged to leverage the services of the Translation Bureau including translation, revision and editing. These services are also made available to other government departments and agencies. To learn more about these services and how to submit an online request to obtain them, please visit the Official language translation, revision and editing services page (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).
- If clients are seeking to leverage the services of Translation Bureau or a third party for the translation of documents with professional seals, they should ensure that the approach meets with any provincial or territorial standards or requirements governing the translation of those professionally sealed documents. For more information on the translation of documents with professional seals, please refer to Section 18.104.22.168.2 Translation of documents with professional seals and Annex 1.1.1 Matrix of responsibilities between Public Works and Government Services Canada and client departments for the procurement of goods and services (generic) (Section 3.1).
22.214.171.124 Standard vs. non-standard documents
The Official Languages Act (OLA) does not make the distinction regarding the nature of documents, and whether they are standard or non-standard. All documents must therefore be given the same consideration under the OLA.
126.96.36.199.2 Translation of documents with professional seals
- For documents (e.g. architectural or construction documents and drawings) requiring a professional seal, the client department and project authority may identify special translation requirements, which may require expertise in a specific type of document in order to ensure that their translation would be carried out and certified for equal quality in both official languages prior to posting.
- With respect to translated documents being of equal quality, provincial and territorial jurisdictions will often have their own stringent provisions for how professionally sealed documents must be translated. Such provisions could include specific professional association standards and/or related legislative or regulatory requirements.
- Translation errors, or failure to follow provincial or territorial requirements for translation these documents can pose serious consequences for Canada and other parties (e.g. construction errors, loss of professional license).
- Acquisition Program (AP) contracting officers should encourage clients to verify the provincial or territorial requirements and seek legal advice when required.
- Legal advice may also be sought regarding the legality of translating third-party documents and documents with professional seals, including for:
- Issues related to intellectual property (e.g. copyright);
- Requirements with a final delivery point covered by a comprehensive land claims agreement (CLCA);
- Concerns related to contractor liability on documents with professional seals that are translated by third parties.
188.8.131.52 Tendering from supplier lists
In cases where all suppliers are pre-qualified in a two-stage tendering process (e.g. through a supply arrangement), and all have indicated the same (unilingual) language preference, Acquisition Program (AP) contracting officers may provide documents which meet with that language preference directly to those suppliers on the pre-qualified list.
184.108.40.206 Bidding that is national in scope
Acquisition Program (AP) contracting officers should be aware and take into consideration that the Official Languages Act (OLA) does not make a distinction regarding whether bidding is national in scope where procurement notices and related documents are concerned. All notices or documents must be given the same consideration under the OLA.
220.127.116.11 Division of responsibilities regarding the translation of documents
- The division of responsibilities between Public Works and Government Services Canada and client departments regarding the translation of documents is found at Section 3.1 of Annex 1.1.1 Matrix of responsibilities between Public Works and Government Services Canada and client departments for the procurement of goods and services (generic).
- In respect of the division of responsibilities, Acquisition Program (AP) contracting officers may advise, but must not direct client departments on how they are to meet their specific translation needs. It is for the client to decide on the manner of translation for its content, including any special or third-party services required to certify that a translation is equal in quality to the original document.
- If concerns are encountered regarding the quality of translated content received from the client, AP contracting officers should contact them to resolve any outstanding issues prior to posting on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS). This may include requesting that the client verify that the source of the translated content is consistent with Section 1.3 of the Canada.ca Style Guide, and to request that the client ensure that any related errors or deficiencies are corrected.