Canadian activists praised Service Canada’s decision to ask its employees to adopt gender-neutral language when interacting with the public as a step toward greater inclusivity, while members of the political opposition mocked the policy mercilessly.
VIDEO: Comedy skit by Rick Mercer in 2016 on Service Canada’s quality of service
Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos defended the federal institution’s internal directive Wednesday, saying it was a matter of respect and an effort “to adapt to the reality of 21st-century families.”
According to the directive issued to managers and team leaders in January, Service Canada employees are asked to use gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language to avoid “portraying a perceived bias toward a particular sex or gender.”
Workers are instructed to use a client’s full name or ask how they would prefer to be addressed instead of using honorifics such as Mr., Mrs. or Ms., which “can be seen as gender specific by a client,” reads the memo, which was first obtained by Radio-Canada.
They are also being asked to eschew the terms “father” and “mother” in favour of “parent.”
Some members of the opposition were quick to criticize the directive, including Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who described it as “ridiculous.”
Rheal Fortin, the former Bloc Quebecois MP who now sits as an Independent, concurred, saying, “it’s bordering on harebrained.”
“I almost want to say I’m glad they don’t have any bigger problems than that at Service Canada,” he joked.
This article continues at [Globe and Mail] Duclos on defensive as opposition mocks gender-neutral language policy