ARCHIVED - Audit of the Community Futures Development Corporations and Community Business Development Corporations - Follow-up – Industry Canada/FedNor

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August 2008

At the time of the audit, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) was satisfied with Industry Canada/FedNor’s action plan for implementing nine of the 11 recommendations addressed to it. These recommendations focused on the following:

  • ensuring that the content on the Web sites of Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) and Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) complies with official languages obligations;
  • developing and implementing a strategy to ensure that CFDCs designated to provide services in both official languages comply fully with the requirements for active offer of bilingual service;
  • ensuring that CFDCs have the linguistic capacity to offer services of comparable quality in both official languages;
  • supplying bilingual keyboards;
  • including performance indicators in Industry Canada/FedNor’s action plan on Part VII of the Official Languages Act;
  • consulting with official language minority communities for the purposes of strategic planning;
  • ensuring the committees that are responsible for accepting or refusing loan or project applications are informed of their responsibilities to take into account the specific needs and particular concerns of official language minority communities.

The analysis carried out by the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) notes the following achievements:

  • In addition to ensuring that contribution agreements signed with designated CFDCs already include obligations to make an active offer of bilingual service, Industry Canada has undertaken an awareness tour to educate front-line staff about the importance and specific elements of this obligation as part of all communications (by telephone and in person). Industry Canada has designed an information package on active offer for this purpose.
  • Industry Canada/FedNor has conducted an overall review with the CFDCs of the concepts underlining the active offer of bilingual service and linguistic capacity.  Profiles of all CFDCs pertaining to service delivery in both official languages have been updated to ensure that services are of comparable quality in this respect.
  • One bilingual keyboard with instructions for installation has been distributed to each designated bilingual CFDC, and seven additional keyboards have been distributed to CFDCs that have more than one workstation available to the public.
  • Industry Canada/FedNor has used an awareness tour to clarify the responsibilities of committees responsible for approving loan and project applications with respect to supporting the development of official language minority communities. It has also used the tour to examine the CFDCs’ strategic planning process in order to identify activities that ensure the participation of official language minority communities.
  • A clause pertaining to official languages has been included in the contractual agreements of managers responsible for the Community Futures Program.

At the time of the audit, OCOL was not satisfied with the proposed implementation measures for two of the recommendations; however, during the course of its assessment, a third recommendation was found to be only partially implemented.

Recommendation 4

That Industry Canada ensure, within six months of receiving this report, that the content of the Web sites of Community Futures Development Corporations designated to provide bilingual services is available in both official languages.  

All CFDCs committed to reviewing their Web sites to ensure that the content was available in both official languages. However, to date, only three of the 18 Web sites have been modified to fulfill this recommendation. OCOL considers this recommendation only partially implemented and calls upon the Department to ensure its full implementation.

Recommendation 11

That Industry Canada define performance indicators in its action plan on Part VII of the Official Languages Act in order to evaluate the measures taken and the results attained by Community Futures Development Corporations with respect to the vitality and development of official language minority communities.

Work continues on the development of performance indicators that are to be incorporated into Industry Canada’s next action plan on Part VII, which is planned for completion in 2009.

Recommendation 14

That Industry Canada examine the merits of setting up a federal regional economic development agency in those regions of the province not currently served by FedNor.

Industry Canada informed OCOL that the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), a program administered by the 15 CFDCs of the eastern region of the province, three of which are designated bilingual, has been in place since 2004–2005. An assessment of the scope of the EODP is currently underway and will continue through 2008. Industry Canada is also conducting in-depth socio-economic studies in the south-western region of Ontario, and the results will be submitted to the Minister for a review of the options available. OCOL therefore considers the recommendation to be only partially implemented, and encourages the Department to take the necessary measures to continue its efforts in this regard.