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Qualify for Canada’s Bilingualism Bonus

Qualify for Canada’s Bilingualism Bonus

The bilingualism bonus is an annual $800 payment issued to eligible government workers.

The payment is made on each paycheck and designated separately from regular compensation. The incentive was established by parliament in 1977 to promote bilingualism in Canada’s public sector.

Who is Eligible for the Bilingualism Bonus?

The bilingualism bonus is reserved for federal employees of departments and Crown corporations who achieve specific language criteria according to Canada’s Official Language Laws. It covers full- and part-time workers and even trainees.

A parliamentary study in 2018 determined roughly 33 percent of all public service workers qualify for the bonus. The bonus is intended for federal public service employees and extends to Crown corporations as well.

According to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, there are two requirements to qualify for the bilingual bonus:

  • Occupy an official bilingual position.
  • Have a Second Language Evaluation (SLE) profile validating that you meet the bilingual requirements for your position.

Who Does Not Qualify?

Individuals who do not possess current and valid French/English SLE results equivalent to the requirements of their position do not qualify for the bilingualism bonus.

It should be noted that the bilingualism bonus is reserved only for those bilingual in Canada’s two official languages — English and French.

While some government workers may be fluent in other languages and use them regularly on the job — Indigenous languages, for example — current regulations do not extend the bonus outside of French and English.

Employees in Executive Group (EX)-level roles do not qualify for the bonus either. EX positions are those with high-level managerial, supervision, and policy responsibilities, such as:

  • Director
  • Senior Director
  • Senior Assistant
  • Chief

Other government positions governed by collective agreements are also not explicitly eligible for the bonus, though they may be on a case-by-case basis.

When Did the Bonus Take Effect?

The current iteration of the Canadian Bilingual Bonus was birthed in 1977 and remains the current rule. However, precedents for incentivizing bilingualism stretch back more than a century.

Canadian federal employees received special supplements by the 1900s if they could write in English and French. By 1967, certain clerical and record-keeping positions began receiving a 7 percent salary differential if they were proficient in both official languages.

The official promotion of language rights came with the 1969 Official Languages Act, and by 1977, the bilingualism bonus plan was officially instituted, retroactive to 1976. This bonus directive underwent amendments over the years, notably in 1993, to align with evolving public service policies.

The fixed $800 annual incentive has not changed since 1977. If the bonus had been indexed to adjust for inflation, it would now be worth more than $3,000. The Public Service Alliance of Canada began calling for the incentive to increase to $1,500 in 2022.

How to Meet Bilingual Requirements

Bilingual positions require a specific proficiency level in Canada’s two official languages — English and French. You can determine if a position is bilingual or unilingual (French-essential or English-essential) from a Letter of Offer or by contacting an agency’s human resource department.

SLE Tests and Levels

In Canada, bilingual proficiency is determined by the Public Service Commission’s Second Language Evaluation (SLE), which includes three exams in reading, writing, and oral communication. Each result achieved in these categories builds the candidate’s three-letter SLE profile.

These tests are assigned proficiency levels as follows:

  • Level A — Beginner
  • Level B — Intermediate
  • Level C — Advance

An “X” is assigned when a test taker does not meet the requirements for Level A. Some positions may also require specialized language proficiency in a technical field, or what is known as a “Code P.”

These scores are valid for 5 years or as long as someone is employed in a specific role. Those who achieve a high enough score may earn an E or “exempt” status.

SLE Profiles

These three scores make up an employee’s language profile. A CBC level score would mean an employee has achieved a Level C in reading comprehension, a Level B in written expression, and a Level C on the oral assessment.

An employee with a language profile lower than the required levels does not qualify for the bonus. For example, someone with a CBB profile will not qualify for the bonus in a role requiring a CBC level.

LRDG Helps Learners Achieve Bilingualism Bonus Eligibility

With more than 30,000 learners and a 90% test success rate, LRDG has helped thousands of federal employees and job candidates prepare for, achieve, and maintain their target SLE proficiency levels.

LRDG’s blended approach to one-on-one online tutoring, group training, and self-study empowers learners to pursue their language goals at their own pace and take advantage of personalized learning paths.

Connect with our team today

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the bilingual bonus in Canada?

The bilingualism bonus is an $800 annual incentive established by the Canadian parliament in 1977 to promote bilingualism in Canada’s public sector.

How do I get bilingual certification in Canada?

Bilingual certification for government and Crown corporation jobs is completed through Canada’s Second Language Evaluation (SLE), which assesses proficiency in reading, writing, and oral communication.

What are the benefits of being bilingual in Canada?

Workers who occupy an official bilingual position with the government or a Crown corporation and have achieved qualifying SLE testing results can receive an additional $800 annually.