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names of government departments (Linguistic recommendation from the Translation Bureau)

[The same content is available in French in the article NOMS DE MINISTÈRES (RECOMMANDATION LINGUISTIQUE DU BUREAU DE LA TRADUCTION).]

To standardize the way the names of government departments are written in English and French in the federal public service, the Translation Bureau recommends the following.

You can go directly to the section that interests you by clicking on one of the links below:

Names of Government Departments in English

Full name beginning with department

Example: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Capitalize the word department when giving the full name of a government department:

  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Use the article the before the full name:

  • I work for the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
  • the Department of Finance Canada

Do not capitalize the plural form departments:

  • the departments of Justice and National Defence

Note: For the official names of Canadian government departments, see the Registry of Applied Titles.

Word department used alone

Examples: a department, this department, our department, departments

Write the word department in lower case when it follows an indefinite article (a); when it follows an adjective, including adjectives that are indefinite (no, each), possessive (my, your, our) or demonstrative (this, that); or when it is in the plural:

  • Environment Canada is a department of the Government of Canada.
  • No department will object to this measure.
  • Our department has hired new staff.
  • The rate of employee turnover is very low in this department.
  • the provincial departments

Example: department policy (department used as an adjective)

Write the word department in lower case when using it as an adjective:

  • We are always careful to respect department policy (= departmental policy).

Example: the Department

We recommend capitalizing the word department when you use it by itself to represent a specific department that has already been named or can be identified from the context. Use the definite article the in front of the word Department:

  • The Department is working closely with the provinces.
  • This press release clarifies the official position of the Department.

Short name with or without Canada (without the word Department)

Example: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Do not use an article in front of the short name of a department:

  • Janet works at Industry Canada.
  • Our top client is Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • He talked to Public Works and Government Services today.

When using the short name as a subject, put the verb in the third person singular:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada has issued a statement.
  • Foreign Affairs has launched a program…
  • Veterans Affairs Canada is proud of this initiative…

Note: Most short names without the word Canada are not official.

Abbreviation

Examples: DFO, PWGSC

You may use the abbreviation instead of a department name once you have given the name in full with the abbreviation in parentheses after it:

  • Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is moving forward quickly with its major infrastructure projects. During the present fiscal year, PWGSC will…

Do not use an article before the abbreviation of a government department, even if the name in full takes an article:

  • To advance our international plans, DFO works hard to…
    (DFO = the Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

For the official abbreviations of Canadian government departments in English and French, see the Registry of Applied Titles.

Names of Government Departments in French

Full name beginning with ministère

Example: ministère des Pêches et des Océans

Write the word ministère in lower case, and use upper case for the major nouns that follow ministère. Also use upper case for any adjective coming before one of these nouns:

  • le ministère des Pêches et des Océans
  • le ministère de la Diversification de l’économie de l’Ouest
  • le ministère des Anciens Combattants du Canada
  • le ministère des Travaux publics et des Services gouvernementaux

Use the article le in front of the full name beginning with ministère. When the word ministère is used in the plural, the major nouns following it are usually capitalized:

  • les quatre ministères de l’Éducation des provinces atlantiques

Note: For the official names of Canadian government departments in French, see the Registry of Applied Titles.

Word ministère used alone

Examples: un ministère, ce ministère, notre ministère, ministères

Write the word ministère in lower case when it follows an indefinite article (un); when it follows an adjective, including adjectives that are indefinite (aucun, chaque), possessive (mon, ton, notre) or demonstrative (ce); or when it is in the plural:

  • Environnement Canada est un ministère du gouvernement du Canada.
  • Aucun ministère ne s’opposera à cette mesure.
  • Pour assurer la saine gestion de ce ministère, de notre ministère…
  • les ministères provinciaux

Examples: le Ministère, au Ministère, du Ministère

We recommend capitalizing the word ministère when you use it by itself to represent a specific department that has already been named or can be identified from the context. Use the definite article (le) or the contracted article (au, du) in front of the word ministère:

  • Le ministère des Transports annoncera un nouveau programme. Le Ministère espère que ce programme aidera…
  • Les fonctionnaires du Ministère sont invités…

Short name ending in Canada (without the word ministère)

Example: Pêches et Océans Canada

Do not use an article in front of the name. Use à, de or d’ instead of au, à la, aux, du, de la or des:

  • Ce sont des documents confidentiels de Sécurité publique Canada.
  • une initiative d’Anciens Combattants Canada
  • une employée de Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada

When using the short name as a subject, put the verb in the third person singular, and use the masculine singular form for adjectives:

  • Pêches et Océans Canada a annoncé, s’est démarqué
  • Industrie Canada est fier

Short name without the word Canada – Two major nouns joined by et

Examples: Pêches et Océans, Emploi et Développement social

Do not use an article in front of a short name containing two major nouns joined by et. Use à, de or d’  instead of au, à la, aux, du, de la or des:

  • J’ai travaillé à Pêches et Océans, ainsi qu’à Citoyenneté et Immigration.

When using the short name as a subject, put the verb in the 3rd person singular, and use the masculine singular form for a predicate adjective:

  • Emploi et Développement social a acheté le logiciel et est heureux des résultats obtenus.

Note: Most short names without the word Canada are not official.

Short name without the word Canada – A single major noun

Example: Défense nationale

Use the article le, la or les in front of a name containing a single major noun:

  • la Défense nationale
  • les Affaires étrangères

Use the prepositions au, du, à la, de la, aux or des:

  • Je travaille aux Affaires étrangères.
  • le site Web de la Diversification de l’économie de l’Ouest

When using the short name as a subject, make the verb and the predicate adjective agree with the first noun in the name:

  • Les Affaires indiennes et du Nord pourront
  • La Défense nationale est déterminée à…

Exception: Patrimoine canadien

Do not use an article before Patrimoine canadien. Use the prepositions à and de before Patrimoine canadien except when it follows the word ministère:

  • Je travaille à Patrimoine canadien (not au).
  • les dossiers de Patrimoine canadien (not du)

but

  • le ministère du Patrimoine canadien

Note: Most short names without the word Canada are not official.

Abbreviation

Examples: MPO, TPSGC, CIC

You may use the abbreviation instead of a department name once you have given the name in full with the abbreviation in parentheses after it:

  • Travaux publics et Services gouvernementaux Canada (TPSGC) fait progresser rapidement ses principaux projets d’infrastructure. Au cours de l’exercice, TPSGC accélérera ses plans…

Use the same article (where necessary) and the same preposition in front of the abbreviation as you would in front of the name in full:

  • Je travaille à CIC (not au CIC, because we say à Citoyenneté et Immigration Canada).
  • nouvelles internationales du MPO (not de MPO, because we say du ministère des Pêches et des Océans)

References

The official names of Canadian government departments, along with their abbreviations, are listed in English and French in the Registry of Applied Titles.

You can also access department Web sites at Departments and Agencies (English) or Ministères et organismes (French).