ARCHIVED - Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 2007-2008

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Report Card 2007–2008
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Factors and Criteria

Summary of Substantiating Data


Management (15%)

(a) An accountability framework, an action plan and accountability mechanisms are in place (5%)

Various policies of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) describe the official languages (OL) roles and responsibilities and how the obligations set out in the Official Languages Act (the Act) will be fulfilled. ACOA has established an accountability framework that shows the hierarchical structure of the OL file at the Agency and the key individuals responsible for managing the file. In addition, OL are an integral part of ACOA’s program activity architecture and are integrated as a program sub-activity into the Community Development Division.

The action plan for Parts IV, V and VI, approved by senior management, includes the objectives to be achieved, planned activities and timelines. Achievement of action plan objectives is assessed in the OL annual review (quantitative review) submitted to the Canada Public Service Agency (CPSA) and signed by the President. The Community Development Division (responsible for section 41) also submits a three-year action plan on Part VII to Canadian Heritage and an annual status report. These two documents are also signed by the President of the Agency.

Directors and directors general have an OL performance clause in their contracts. The internal OL committee plays an important role in coordinating and monitoring the application of the OL program at ACOA.


(b) Visibility of official languages in the organization (5%)

The 2007–2008 Report on Plans and Priorities mentions responsibilities related to section 41 of the Act. The 2006–2007 Performance Report also devotes a section to OL. The audit branch includes OL in its activity framework.

The Vice-President, New Brunswick, is the OL Champion. He is a member of the Agency’s Executive Committee. The Champion is assisted by a co-champion. The Co-champion is the Director, Communications, in Nova Scotia.

The Agency's Executive Committee and the management committees of the regional offices all discuss the various OL-related activities. The President has integrated the promotion of OL in the workplace and service delivery into her performance management agreement. The President participates in the Assistant Deputy Ministers' Committee, on which the Vice-President, New Brunswick, also sits.

There is a network of OL champions from all Atlantic regions and from head office. A committee was also created that includes these champions and representatives from the human resources divisions (Parts IV, V and VI), the community development divisions (Part VII) at head office and in the regions, as well as human resources advisors. The objective of this 16-person team is to promote the OL program, foster the creation of an institutional culture that is aware of OL issues and ensure a collaborative approach when integrating OL into ACOA operations


(c) Complaints and follow-up (5%)

The complaint management process requires the participation of managers and, if applicable, of the appropriate officials from the Community Development Division, the Human Resources Division and Legal Services. This process fosters the sharing of information in order to prevent the recurrence of problems. Reports on the nature of complaints and the measures that are taken are also sent to management. There is a specific directive on language of work complaints.




Service to the public—Part IV (25%)

(a) Bilingual services advertised to the public and sufficient bilingual staff (3%)

Designated bilingual offices are identified in Burolis, in the blue pages and on the ACOA Web site.

In total, 95% of employees in bilingual positions serving the public meet the language requirements of their position (Source: Position and Classification Information System [PCIS], March 31, 2007).


(b) Observations on active offer and service delivery (15%)

According to observations of service in person made by the Office of the Commissioner between mid-June and mid-July 2007, an active visual offer was present in 88% of cases, an active offer by staff was made in 38% of cases, and service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 88% of cases.
According to observations of service on the telephone made by the Office of the Commissioner between mid-June and mid-July 2007, an active offer by staff or by an automated system was made in 87% of cases, while service in the language of the linguistic minority was adequate in 100% of cases.


(c) Service agreements delivered by third parties or in partnership provide for the delivery of bilingual services (2%)

The ACOA’s OL policy indicates that contractual agreements with the public and private sectors must include OL clauses. This policy also sets out the obligations of the parties in contribution agreements. Program officers verify the presence and content of this clause. The policy also contains a section on service to the public, which applies to third parties acting on behalf of ACOA. ACOA maintains continual contact with third parties.

The complaints that are received and the information in contribution and contract reports serve as control mechanisms to confirm that third parties deliver quality services in both OL. ACOA ensures that all promotional material, Web sites, forms and other material are available to the public in both OL.

ACOA has observed that third parties have a better understanding of their obligations since the awareness tour conducted in late 2006. In the next evaluation framework for community futures development corporations, ACOA plans to add a mechanism to assess the services provided in both OL.


(d) Policy on service to the public and bilingual services quality monitoring (5%)

The policy “ACOA Obligations - Service to the Public” sets out the requirements related to communications and bilingual service delivery, and also makes all employees aware of ACOA's commitment to respect the equality of English and French. The information kit provided to employees includes information about language of service.

As set out in its action plan, the Human Resources Branch, in collaboration with ACOA's Policy and Programs Branch, gives presentations on the Act at head office, in regional offices and at the Ottawa office every two years. These presentations deal with Part IV in great detail. The November 2007 meeting of the OL Committee dealt with active offer.

ACOA reports on the delivery of services in both OL in its annual review to the CPSA. The Agency’s client service survey includes questions on OL.

The Human Resources Branch produced an information kit for offices that provide bilingual services. This kit contains references and important information on service in both OL.

To improve client service, ACOA ensured that its voicemail services are bilingual.




Language of work—Part V (25%)

(a) Language of work policy and adequate bilingual supervision (12.5%)

The policy “ACOA Language of Work - Rights and Responsibilities” outlines the rights and responsibilities related to personal and central services, work instruments and computer systems, supervision, the language of meetings, training and professional development, and internal communications. Moreover, a procedure is in place for filing language of work complaints.

Language training is highlighted in employee training plans and in performance evaluation agreements. A letter of congratulations and a certificate signed by the President and the OL Champion are sent to employees who successfully complete a language training program. ACOA’s French Wednesdays raise awareness of all aspects of the Actand specifically encourage employees to maintain their language skills.

In total, 97% of senior management in bilingual positions are bilingual, and 95% of supervisors in bilingual regions meet the language requirements of their position (Source: PCIS, March 31, 2007).


(b) Use of each official language in the workplace (12.5%)

As set out in its action plan, ACOA gives presentations on the Act every two years. A significant portion of these presentations deals with Part V.

The Executive Committee adopted a practice to promote the use of the minority language whereby at least one agenda item for each Committee meeting must be presented in French (including any accompanying documents), and any subsequent discussions must be conducted in French.
The French Wednesdays initially planned for New Brunswick have been extended to the entire Agency, thereby encouraging employees to speak French at work. This initiative is supported by a weekly e-mail that reminds employees of the activity and contains information on the OL program.

The Agency uses the complaints that are received and the results of the Public Service Employee Survey as control mechanisms for the application of the Policy on Language of Work.

The survey conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of the Office of the Commissioner showed that, overall, 84 % of Francophone respondents in the National Capital Region, New Brunswick and the bilingual regions of Ontario "strongly agreed" or "mostly agreed" with the language of work regime.




Equitable participation—Part VI (10%)

(a) Percentage of Francophone participation throughout Canada (5%)


Overall, the workforce is 33.2% Francophone (Source, PCIS, March 31, 2007).


(b) Percentage of Anglophone participation in Quebec (5%)

ACOA does not have any employees in Quebec.




Development of official language minority communities and promotion of linguistic duality—Part VII (25%)

Information common to both criteria

ACOA produces an action plan for the implementation of section 41 of the Act and an annual status report. Section 41 objectives are included in departmental planning and accountability documents. For 2007–2008, ACOA also has an operational plan for community development. The ACOA’s OL policy indicates that contractual agreements with the public and private sectors must include OL clauses. This policy also sets out the obligations of the parties in contribution agreements.

A mandatory field on the application of section 41 has been incorporated into the electronic project summary form used for project evaluations. Memoranda to Cabinet are reviewed by the Policy Branch, in collaboration with the Programs Branch, to ensure that they take into account the impact on official language minority communities (OLMCs). Section 41 of the Actis now an important component of the Agency’s program sub-activities in the Program Activity Architecture (PAA). As a result, progress in this area is reported annually in the report on plans and priorities and the departmental performance report.

Following the amendments to the Act, the Management Committee discussed the Agency’s new obligations, including the obligation to take positive measures to enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minorities in Canada and support and assist their development. In addition, the Director General, Community Development, forwarded an e-mail on this subject to directors and directors general, and another one was sent to vice-presidents. ACOA's OL Champion appointed champions in the Agency's regional offices. A committee comprised of these champions and representatives from the Human Resources Branch and the Community Development Branch at head office was also created to promote the OL program and foster an OL culture at ACOA.

An integrated OL committee was established so the human resources (Parts IV, V and VI and section 91) and community development (Part VII) components could be handled together. In addition to ensuring that coordinators participate in the National Committee of Coordinators Responsible for the Implementation of Section 41 and the National Committee for Economic Development and Employability, ACOA has a team of regional coordinators who are well known to OLMCs and who act as liaisons and distribute information internally. ACOA employees have established some partnerships in the communities and continue to work closely with them. This awareness-raising activity will contribute to ensuring the development of OLMCs is one of the items reviewed as part of all funding applications submitted to ACOA.

Under its mandate to develop Atlantic regions and communities, ACOA must help strengthen the economic development of OLMCs. As such, the Agency believes that its policies and programs meet the obligation of fostering the development of OLMCs and promoting duality. In 2006–2007, ACOA invested over $17 million in new OLMC economic development projects. Under an agreement signed with Industry Canada, ACOA also administers seven pilot projects to develop the content of long-distance learning programs conducted by Francophone post-secondary education institutions. In partnership with other federal departments, ACOA has contributed to funding a project to set up an integrated service centre that provides services in French in the OLMC on the Port au Port peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador.


(a) Development of official language minority communities (12.5%)

There is ongoing consultation with OLMCs. ACOA has undertaken numerous formal and informal consultations and discussions with OLMCs to find out their priorities. ACOA participates, for example, in the National Committee of Coordinators Responsible for the Implementation of Section 41 of the Act, the National Committee of Economic Development and Employability (NCEDE) and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Steering Committee for Immigration to OLMCs. Regional coordinators participate in meetings of the OL sub-committee of the Federal Council of their respective province.

Moreover, ACOA employees regularly participate in various forums and symposiums where OLMC priorities are discussed, as well as in the annual general meetings of many OLMC organizations. Consultations conducted at these meetings allow both parties to share ideas on the community's needs and common priorities. Another committee created by the ACOA employees responsible for section 41 facilitates the exchange of information and the identification of areas of collaboration with the Economic Development and Employability Networks.

The information gathered on the needs of OLMCs, among others, is then shared locally and with the internal committee made up of representatives from other branches. ACOA posts its OL action plan and status report on its Web site. As a result, OLMCs have access to information on OL activities and are kept abreast of efforts that are made to contribute to the development of their respective communities. Furthermore, the ACOA’s OL action plan is shared with French-language economic development organizations in the region before final approval and submission to the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Measures to foster the development of OLMCs in the regions have already been included in the ACOA’s action plan. This plan takes into account the needs expressed by OLMCs. The current action plan describes the objectives of the activities, expected results and responsibilities. Four performance indicators for Part VII of the Acthave been identified and are part of the Agency’s data collection strategy and the Management, Resources and Results Structure (MRRS). The assessment tool (QAccess) has been modified to improve the tracking of the results of OL projects and facilitate data compilation for projects related to section 41.


(b) Promotion of linguistic duality (12.5%)

The Agency’s action plan (2006–2009) does not provide for specific measures to promote linguistic duality. This plan is being revised to comply with the changes to the Act and will take into account the promotion of linguistic duality. The 2007–2008 action plans for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island both mention linguistic duality. The next plans for the other provinces should contain measures to promote linguistic duality. In the meantime, measures are taken within the institution and with the public.

On March 22, 2007, “French Wednesdays” were expanded to the entire Agency, including regions that are unilingual English for language of work purposes. A number of communications activities promote employee awareness of linguistic duality.

A section of the ACOA Web site provides the English- and French-speaking general public with information on ACOA’s implementation of section 41 of the Act. The site also promotes Francophone economic development groups such as the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick, the Centre Jodrey in Nova Scotia, the Association régionale de la côte Ouest in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Société de développement de la Baie acadienne in Prince Edward Island.

ACOA participates actively in the Semaine de la Francophonie organized by the New Brunswick Federal Council. ACOA also provides communications support to the New Brunswick Translation Industry Council.