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Page 11 of 12

1. Clarification of Terms

On September 16, 1999, we contacted the coordinators of Part VII of the Official Languages Act and asked them to make an inventory, within their department, agency or Crown corporation, of examples of at least partial delegation of the delivery of a program or service to a minority group or agency and to forward for analysis the pertinent information (description of the nature and terms of each delegation, copy of the agreement/contract, etc.).

The great majority of the coordinators responded that their department did not engage in this type of “delegation of service delivery” to community groups. However, the community groups frequently use the term “delegation” to describe the new models of cooperation inventoried.

It can be seen that communications between public servants and the public are tainted by a terminology that covers a different meaning for each. Thus, whereas the word “delegation” is taken in its usual sense by the communities, that is to say, all actions carried out on behalf of the federal government, it means something quite different for the federal institutions. For them, the term means a transfer of powers to a body other than the federal government, such as the “delegation” illustrated by the labour market development agreements between the federal government and the provinces.

A Treasury Board publication on alternative service delivery may help to clarify the definition of terms used. (Treasury Board, Alternative Service Delivery, Citizen-Centred Service and the Partnership Option, Working Draft, April 1998).

This document quotes from and is largely inspired by an article by Alti Rodal and Nick Mulder of Consulting and Audit Canada which appeared in Optimum in 1993 and provides a framework for reflection ranging from consultation, through partnerships, to the delegation of powers.

Here are brief explanations of a few of the terms used.

First, three concepts for the management of public affairs:

Consultation means an “interactive and iterative” process that elicits and takes into consideration the ideas of clients.

Partnership means an agreement between two or more parties who have agreed to work in cooperation in pursuit of shared and compatible objectives. Such an agreement includes:

  • shared authority and responsibility (e.g.; for the delivery of programs and services, in carrying out a given action or policy development);

  • joint investment of resources (time, work, funding, material, expertise, information);

  • shared liability and risk-taking;

  • ideally, mutual benefits.

Delegation of powers implies the transfer of functions or responsibilities for program and service delivery from the federal government to another body.

These may be considered as degrees in a continuum; at one extreme, government organizations are influenced by outside input, retain control, and are fully involved in implementation; at the other extreme, federal institutions completely transfer authority and responsibility for implementation to other entities (see figure 1).

Roles and accountabilities of parties in consultations, partnerships and devolution arrangements

Source: Optimum, The Journal of Public Sector Management, Winter 1993, pp. 27-29.


Figure 2
Pressures and objectives of partnerships

This model shown in figure 2 is useful for describing certain government relationships, but it is poorly adapted for defining the models developed between federal institutions and community groups for the delivery of certain government services that we have inventoried in this study.

For example, the term “partnership” may lead to confusion. Of all the examples inventoried, only the National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resource Development model constitutes a true ”cooperative partnership” as defined in this continuum. The other agreements examined frequently go beyond simple consultation but do not constitute partnerships as defined in this model, because there is no sharing of powers or responsibilities.

We conclude that the term “delegation of service delivery” leads to confusion and poorly illustrates the new realities that are taking shape in relationships between certain federal institutions and community groups.

It is therefore necessary to develop new concepts to characterize the types of agreement that have been developed in recent years between various federal institutions and community groups. With regard the application of the Official Languages Act, the form taken by the provision of service is of little importance; what is important is the nature of the service provided. Is it or is it not a government service?

We propose that the term “models of cooperation” be used to designate parallel and innovative arrangements or provisions for implementing programs by which certain community organizations deliver government services to the minority official language communities.

This term is general enough to cover all the examples inventoried in this study and is precise enough to define the real relationship being developed between certain federal institutions and community groups. It also conforms to the spirit of section 41 of the Official Languages Act, which intends increased cooperation between the federal government and the minority official language communities.

Because of the multiplicity of models, it is difficult to give a clear portrait of the nature of the arrangements or provisions that frame the relationship between the federal government and the community for the delivery of government services by a community group. The links that frame these models of cooperation are sometimes direct between a department and a community group and sometimes indirect, through a provincial department or other agencies.



Control mode: exclusive government decision-making; little or no consultation with clients/stakeholders.

Briefing mode: listening, dialogue, limited consultation, no necessary impact on decisions.

Debate mode: more open debate, shared analysis of problems, scope to influence decision-making.

Consensus mode: joint agreement on solutions, strong potential to influence decision-making.

Coordination mode: joint decision-making with regard to implementation as well as policy.


Operational partnership: participation in design and delivery of programs/services.

Collaborative partnership: shared decision making with regard to policy development, in addition to program/service design and delivery.


Transfer of responsibility for program/service design and delivery.

2. Examples Inventoried in the Course of this Study

In terms of their form, we find models of cooperation governed by various arrangements or provisions. Three principal tools serve to govern most of the models identified.

A simple contractual agreement sometimes governs the delivery of a single departmental service. This contract between a department and a community agency specifies the service to be provided and the costs associated with it.

A contribution or grant agreement may govern the delivery of a program in whole or in part. This contribution or grant agreement defines the government service to be provided and the costs associated with it. It is not a principal-agent contract as is found in the contractual agreements. The standard contribution or grant form of the departments is used, as for all other grants. The only difference in the examples inventoried is the fact that the community organization delivers, to the local or regional official language community, some of the services that would normally be delivered directly by the department. A number of these grant agreements specify that this model of cooperation enables the department to meet its obligations under section 41 of the Act.

Cooperation agreements are concluded between one or more federal institutions and one or more community groups and specify the principles that govern the agreement, the objectives, and the implementation mechanisms. These agreements are multi-year, and their primary purpose is to increase cooperation between federal institutions and community groups to enhance the vitality of the communities. In some cases, the community groups directly distribute government funds under the terms and conditions of departmental programs. Provincial departments are sometimes found as signatories.

The following are some examples of models of cooperation existing between community groups and federal institutions.


Twenty-eight agreements have been signed between the National Film Board of Canada and various libraries, universities, colleges and community agencies to distribute the Board’s 16mm films and videocassettes.

The NFB has developed various types of service contract with these “distribution partners,” who have consolidated the Board’s collection and manage its routine distribution. These contracts have fixed durations and expiry or renewal dates. In some cases, the partner may purchase the Board’s collection upon the expiry of the contract.


Volnet is a program designed to improve the capabilities of voluntary agencies by giving them access to informatics material, the Internet, new information technologies, and support and advice on networking.

Industry Canada has signed a contribution agreement with 30 implementation agencies, including four French-language ones (Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française, Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise, Société de développement de la Baie acadienne), to identify eligible voluntary agencies that wish to benefit from the services of the Volnet program and to determine their needs for Internet access.

The agencies must provide basic Volnet services and act as a central point where organizations can obtain support and improve their competence, find resources, and conclude cooperative agreements with other agencies that wish to make a contribution to Volnet.

The contract clauses clearly specify the department’s expectations with respect to the services to be delivered and the conditions attached to them. The recipient must implement the project in a diligent and professional manner using qualified staff. Among other things, the contract includes the appropriate clauses concerning respect for the Official Languages Act.


In June 1998 the FCCF signed a multipartite cooperation agreement (involving Canadian Heritage, National Arts Centre, Canada Council for the Arts and FCCF) intended to implement an action plan for the cultural and artistic development of the Francophone and Acadian communities of Canada.

Implementation of the action plan has given rise to the creation of various task forces on theatre, the visual arts, music and song and media arts, as well as another memorandum of agreement between the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade concerning French Canadian publishers working in minority communities.

Clause 5.4 of the agreement states that project approval and the payment of funds to recipients shall take place in accordance with the support conditions of the programs in question.

This agreement was developed to enable the departments and agencies concerned to better meet their obligations under section 41 of the Official Languages Act; its main purpose is to overcome the systemic obstacles that limit access by minority French-speaking communities to the programs of the departments and agencies involved.


The Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise and Saskatchewan Post Secondary Education and Skills Training signed an agreement effective from July 1, 1999, to March 31, 2001. The purpose of this agreement is the reintegration into the labour market of Saskatchewan Francophones who:

  • have been without work for three years;

  • have been on welfare;

  • are experiencing problems in entering the labour market.

The ACF was inspired by the approach recommended by Mr. Justice Chartier in Manitoba. It has established a “single window” in 12 communities in Saskatchewan. In each office, a bilingual employee provides services to the entire community in both languages, ranging from training to job search; other services will be added in the years to come. The language of work of the office will be French. The offices are linked virtually. According to the director general of the Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise, this initiative is to some extent the result of federal devolution and the implementation of section 41 of the Official Languages Act.

The memorandum of understanding is a standard agreement that the province uses in its contracts with implementation agencies. To clarify the status granted to the agency, article 10 of the agreement states that the delivery agency recognizes and affirms that it does not have the authority to act as an agent of the government of Saskatchewan and will not claim to do so.


The Franco-Albertan community has established various employment services centres in recent years. As an example of this type of cooperation, the province of Alberta has concluded an agreement with the Fort McMurray regional chapter of the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta (ACFA) allowing it to provide English second language evaluation and training services and consultation services to Francophones who are underemployed or unemployed.

In Edmonton, the French-speaking community has developed a very innovative and interesting model. The provincial department, Alberta Human Resources and Employment, has signed an agreement with a non profit firm, Excel Resources Society, which specializes in the development of employability services. To deliver the services to French speaking clients, Excel Resources Society has created Les Entreprises EFE Ltée (, a non-profit incorporated firm fully owned by it. Les Entreprises EFE Ltée (Enseignement, Formation, Emploi) is headed by a five-person board of directors from the French-speaking community. Excel Resources asked ACFA to appoint the first members of the board of directors who, in their turn, appoint their successors.

Housed at la Cité Francophone, Les Entreprises EFE Ltée employs five full time and contract employees to deliver the following services to the some 3,600 French-speaking clients who must be served during the duration of the agreement:

  • job placement service;

  • on-the-job training program;

  • skills enhancement program;

  • English as a second language course;

  • new beginning.

It should be noted that the agreement signed between the department and Excel Resources is for three-and-a-half years; this ensures some permanence to Entreprises EFE Ltée. One irritant pointed out is the fact that Les Entreprises EFE Ltée must submit its activity reports in English.


The SFM signed a service contract with Canadian Heritage and the Pan American Games Society effective from May 15, 1997, to December 31, 1999, to ensure the quality of services pursuant to the provisions in the subsidiary agreement on official languages signed by the Pan American Games Society.

All indications are that, on the whole, this event gave an equitable and equal place to both official languages. The SFM conducted a number of checks on bilingual service and signage to ensure that they were adequate.


Three French-speaking communities, those of Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta, have succeeded in establishing a joint provincial committee. Each committee consists of representatives of departments or agencies of the federal government, the provincial government and the minority community that are involved in economic development.

Part of the National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resource Development’s strategic plan is the signing of such agreements in all the other provinces by March 2001. Negotiations are currently under way. In some cases, the province seems hesitant to sign such an agreement, but would agree to have certain provincial departments with an economic mandate participate as observers in meetings under a bipartite agreement that would be signed between various federal institutions and the minority community.

The following are two examples of such a framework agreement. The clauses of the agreement signed between the federal government, the provincial government and the Acadian community of Prince Edward Island in 1997 are substantially the same.

7.1 Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta (ACFA)

This five-year tripartite agreement involves, at the federal level, the Department of Human Resources Development, the Department of Western Economic Diversification, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Department of Industry, the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Department of Public Works and Government Services; at the provincial level, the Department of International and Intergovernmental Relations, and the Department of Learning at the community level, the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta.

The purpose of the agreement, which has been in effect since March 17, 1999, is to develop a framework for cooperation on economic development and the development of human resources through the creation of a tripartite committee whose role is to advise on the direction of policies, programs and services of federal and provincial agencies and promote economic growth and the development of the human resources of the French-speaking community. This committee engages in liaison, coordination, information, and research and development activities.

The provincial and federal agencies who are parties to the agreement agree to contribute to the economic expansion and human resources development of the French-speaking community and to its vitality by ensuring the equitable participation of Francophones in the programs and services provided under their respective mandates.

7.2 Manitoba Association of Bilingual Municipalities

The Manitoba Association of Bilingual Municipalities signed a tripartite agreement which includes the following partners: the Government of Canada (Human Resources Development, Industry, Agricultural and Agri-Food, Western Economic Diversification, Canadian Heritage); the province of Manitoba (Agriculture and Food; Culture, Heritage and Tourism; Industry, Trade and Mines; Intergovernmental Affairs; Education and Training); the Manitoba Association of Bilingual Municipalities, and the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities (CDEM).

Just as in Alberta, this agreement establishes a framework for ongoing cooperation to facilitate the economic and human resources development of the province’s French-speaking community.


It is not the purpose of this study to analyze once again the labour market development agreements which the former Commissioner has already taken up in his study on the impact of government transformations. We mention the LMDAs simply to clearly demonstrate the difference between the delegation of a responsibility from one government to another level of government and the procedures for cooperation established with the communities.

HRDC has signed delegation of powers agreements with the provincial governments (except Ontario) on labour market development. For example, the Canada-Manitoba agreement concerns labour market development and delegates to the province of Manitoba the implementation, under Part II of the Employment Insurance Act, of arrangements that allow Manitoba to play a larger role in the design and implementation of labour market development programs and services. This is a three-year agreement; i.e., from fiscal year 1997-1998 to 1999-2000.

In Manitoba, services must be available in both official languages where there is significant demand, pursuant to sections 5.2 and 5.3 of the agreement, whereas section 5.4 provides for consultation with representatives of the French-speaking community.

Article 5.2: Manitoba will ensure that availability of assistance - under its provincial benefits and provincial measures and with respect to the functions of the National Employment Service for which it is assuming responsibility - is in either official language where there is significant demand for assistance in that language. In delivering its provincial benefits and provincial measures, Manitoba will actively offer its services in either official language in accordance with its French Language Services Policy.

Article 5.3: In determining areas of Manitoba where, for the purpose of section 5.2, there would be considered to be a “significant demand,” Manitoba agrees to use, as a guideline, the criteria for determining what constitutes “significant demand” for communications with, and services from, an office of a federal institution as set out in the Official Languages Regulations made pursuant to Canada’s Official Languages Act.

Article 5.4: Manitoba will consult with representatives of the Francophone community in Manitoba on the provision of French-language labour market development programs and services under this Agreement.

*Source: Optimum, The Journal of Public Sector Management, Winter 1993, p. 29.


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