Families Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is defending Service Canada’s decision to ask its employees to adopt gender-neutral language when interacting with the public, as members of the opposition mocked the policy mercilessly.
According to a directive issued to managers and team leaders, employees of Service Canada 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.
Workers 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 MP Alain Rayes, 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.
But Duclos told reporters Wednesday that Service Canada’s policies are a matter of respect.
He specified in a tweet the government department would continue to use Mr. or Ms. when interacting with Canadians.
“Let us be clear, @ServiceCanada_E will continue to use Mr/Ms when interacting with Canadians,” he wrote on social media.
“We are only confirming how people want to be addressed as a matter of respect.”