Toronto Pearson Airport not fulfilling obligations to French-speaking passengers: Official Languages commissioner

People carry luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on December 20, 2013. (Mark Blinch / The Canadian Press)

MONTREAL -- Toronto Pearson Airport is not fulfilling its obligations to French-speaking passengers, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages has found.

The Commissioner said eight complaints it received between July 2017 and March 2018 about a lack of service in French are founded. In each case, airport staff were found to be unable to provide information or help to travellers at Pearson in French.

In one case, a French-speaking passenger had asked for help after their declaration card got stuck in a machine at border control. The passenger asked questions in French but only received answers in English.

In another case, a French-speaking passenger reported being confronted by a "visibly irritated" airport staffer who answered a French question "furiously in English."

Pearson Airport defended itself against the complaints saying that the employees should be in a position to answer inquiries in either official language, and that they are reminded of that fact on a daily basis.

But Official Languages commissioner Raymond Theberge found that the airport "failed in its obligation to provide services to travellers in both official languages, as required by law."

Theberge has give the airport 18 months to provide basic French training to airport staff who deal with the public.

This Canadian Press report was originally published Nov. 8.