Commissioner satisfied overall with Official Languages Action Plan, calls for timely implementation of next action plan
For immediate release
Gatineau, Quebec, May 18, 2022 – Today, Commissioner of Official Languages Raymond Théberge released a report on the implementation to date of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future.
The Commissioner said that overall, he was satisfied with the implementation of the majority of the Action Plan initiatives he monitored.
The Commissioner’s report focuses on 17 Action Plan initiatives in areas such as education, immigration, community media and radio, and funding for the English-speaking communities in Quebec. As part of the monitoring exercise, his office carried out extensive consultations with stakeholders across Canada, which helped inform the report.
Based on the report findings, the Commissioner made a total of 14 recommendations to the government to improve the current action plan and the next action plan for official languages, which is scheduled to begin in April 2023. These include six overall recommendations, directed to the Minister of Official Languages and federal institutions that administer the initiatives in the Action Plan, and eight targeted recommendations for several of the initiatives the Commissioner monitored.
Together with the much-awaited modernization of the Official Languages Act, an effective action plan is essential for a strong and vibrant future for official languages in Canada. For the most part, the initiatives I monitored seem to be meeting the needs of our official language communities. I will continue to follow the implementation closely.
Looking ahead, it is important that funding be granted in a timely manner for the next action plan. Official language communities depend on this funding to preserve and enhance their vitality, and funding delays can hinder their progress.
- The Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future is the federal government’s primary mechanism for fulfilling its commitment to official language communities and for advancing official languages.
- The current five-year action plan for official languages includes an additional investment of nearly $500 million more than the previous plan, bringing the total investment to $2.7 billion, the largest amount ever provided for the support and advancement of official languages.
- The Commissioner monitored 17 of the 50 action plan initiatives, including 14 initiatives under the new funding, which was an additional $500 million for 2018–2023.
- To gather information on selected action plan initiatives, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages met with some 130 stakeholders, including action plan beneficiaries and five federal institutions:
- Canadian Heritage
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- the Public Health Agency of Canada
- Employment and Social Development Canada
- the Department of Justice Canada
Overall Recommendations (6)
- During consultations for the next action plan for official languages, I recommend that:
- the Minister of Official Languages reach out to as many stakeholders as possible, including smaller organizations, to ensure that they are all able to communicate their priorities; and
- federal institutions consult with stakeholders when designing programs and initiatives so they can ensure that the needs of communities are taken into account.
- As part of the next protocol for agreements for minority-language education and second-language instruction and the next negotiations for bilateral education agreements, I recommend that the Minister of Official Languages put mechanisms in place to ensure that school boards are consulted early in the process and to identify which party is responsible for ensuring that the mechanisms are respected.
- I recommend that federal institutions:
- put the necessary measures in place to ensure the rapid deployment of initiatives so as to minimize delays when the next action plan for official languages is launched; and
- put support measures in place to help organizations apply for funding when they identify a need under the next action plan for official languages.
- I recommend that federal institutions administering initiatives under the next action plan for official languages:
- promote multi-year funding;
- implement simplified administrative processes, including funding application submissions and accountability that preserve the integrity of sound management of public funds by respecting the principles of transparency and accountability; and
- provide funding that is proportional to the level of need and takes into account the high cost of living in rural regions and in the territories.
- I recommend that in the next action plan for official languages, the Minister of Official Languages prioritize intermediary funding in initiatives where it has been successfully implemented and where it is supported by the organizations requesting funding.
- I recommend that federal institutions administering initiatives under the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future:
- put initiative management frameworks in place for intermediary organizations in order to provide guidance to recipients on the implementation of initiatives, including funding applications and accountability measures; and
- select intermediary organizations that can meet the objectives of the initiatives, that have close ties to and good relationships with the communities they serve, and that have the capacity needed to fulfill this role.
Targeted Recommendations (8)
- I recommend that in the next action plan for official languages, the Minister of Official Languages provide Quebec’s English-speaking communities with a funding envelope equivalent to the Support for early childhood development initiative’s envelope.
- I recommend that the Minister of Official Languages consult with stakeholders, in preparation for the next action plan for official languages, to explore the possibility of providing a funding envelope for the Civic Community School Support Fund, or a similar initiative, for French-immersion and French-second-language programs.
- I recommend that the Minister of Official Languages ensure that the tripartite communications between the federal government, the provincial/territorial government, and school boards and other stakeholders allow for an optimal sharing of information about minority-language education and second-language instruction initiatives arising from bilateral agreements, about available funding and about every aspect of the delivery of these initiatives.
- I recommend that the Minister of Official Languages:
- establish stronger coordination at the national level for the allocation of funds from the envelopes for teacher recruitment and retention under the next action plan for official languages; and
- explore the possibility of having school boards and post-secondary institutions submit applications for teacher recruitment and retention funding directly to Canadian Heritage.
- I recommend that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship continue to expand the range of specialized French-language reception services where they already exist, with a view to achieving greater equivalence between French-language services for newcomers and existing English-language services.
- I recommend that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship increase the number of communities that offer services such as those introduced through the Welcoming Francophone Communities initiative.
- I recommend that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship revise the eligibility criteria for services funded under the Francophone integration pathway initiative so that temporary residents have access to them.
- I recommend that the Minister of Official Languages:
- consult with the media outlets and radio stations in official language minority communities before the next action plan for official languages to find ways to offset the loss of revenue caused by the withdrawal of advertising payments so that they can continue their normal operations; and
- following these consultations, incorporate concrete measures in the next action plan for official languages that meet the priority needs of the minority community media outlets and radio stations.