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The purpose of this report is to assist federal institutions and the communities to better understand the impact of the new models of cooperation being developed whereby community groups ensure the delivery of a government service.

Such an approach has important benefits for the federal institutions in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, for citizens in terms of access to services, and for community groups in terms of growth and institutional capacity.

The some 100 examples inventoried to date offer various interesting and functional models that seems to respect the Official Languages Act.

The Government of Canada has the obligation to ensure the advancement toward equality of English and French, pursuant to the Constitution Act, 1982.

A model of cooperation whereby a group provides a government service to an official language minority community may contribute in a significant way to the vitality of a community. It also presents risks that could further contribute to the erosion of language rights.

Experience to date makes it possible to set out certain principles that should guide the implementation of cooperation agreements to ensure that they fully contribute to the vitality of the Anglophone and Francophone minority communities:

  • any model of cooperation must, as a minimum, preserve acquired rights, including access to and the exercise of remedies, while clearly guaranteeing to the public concerned the right to services pursuant to the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Official Languages Act and the Regulations;

  • any model of cooperation must define and establish mechanisms that will give the minority community services truly equal to those provided to the official language majority;

  • any model of cooperation must provide for appropriate control and evaluation mechanisms;

  • any model of cooperation must be established on a multi-year basis and ensure the stability of the service provided to the community;

  • any model of cooperation must provide for concrete transition measures that fully respect the principle of equality, should the service be reabsorbed into the federal institution in question.

Many of the models we have examined make it possible to respond better to the needs of citizens in the official language communities we strongly urge federal institutions and concerned community groups to show creativity in establishing models of cooperation that will shape the future direction of the delivery of government services to the communities.

Our exchanges and discussions with community members and federal government representatives show a good level of satisfaction on both sides with the initiatives and cooperative arrangements developed in recent years. To be sure, adjustments must be made by both parties, but there is ample reason for hope.

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