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In his report A Blueprint for Action: Implementing Part VII of the Official Languages Act, 1988, published in February 1996, the Commissioner of Official Languages concluded one section by making the following recommendation:

The Department of Human Resources Development and the Department of Canadian Heritage, in consultation with the Council of Ministers of Education Canada and with minority official language communities, should undertake a consultative study to define on a national basis the needs of minority communities in post-secondary education, vocational training and human resources development. The study should have as its objective the development of a Canadian strategy for cooperation between the federal government and the provincial and territorial government to remedy the historical disadvantages suffered by minority communities in the areas of vocational training, human resources development and post secondary education. The strategy should include oblique delegation. (p.56)

The approach advocated by the Commissioner in the areas of vocational training, human resources development and post-secondary education is based on the concept that the institutions of a given community are sometimes better placed than the institutions of society in general or the government itself to ensure the delivery to that community of certain government services. In the case of a Canadian official language minority community, this method of delivery may also help to strengthen its institutional fabric and, thereby, its vitality and visibility, a statutory objective of the Government of Canada set out in Part VII of the Act.

In the Framework for Alternative Program Delivery, the Treasury Board Secretariat states, “Where the federal government delivers services that duplicate or overlap those provided by provincial governments, or where a private, voluntary or community sector can deliver services better, the federal government may not be the right supplier.”1

The same document proposes the strategy of concluding partnership agreements that build on the strengths and capacities of other sectors. “The government will cooperate and develop partnering arrangements among departments and with other levels of government and other sectors of the economy. These arrangements will help it build on the strength and capacity of other sectors to provide programs and services that are responsive to the client, innovative and affordable.”2

In this context, this study seeks to inventory examples of new models of cooperation developed since 1995 among federal institutions, agencies or departments and community agencies for the delivery of a government service to an official language community. Some 100 examples were identified in all. These are associated mainly with a small number of federal institutions and, apart from the cultural area, relate almost exclusively to economic development or labour market development.

We selected three typical examples for closer analysis. These examples represent three new models of cooperation that have emerged in the past five years and they raise two basic legal issues.

Does section 25 of the Official Languages Act apply to them?

Section 25: Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that, where services are provided or made available by another person or organization on its behalf, any member of the public in Canada or elsewhere can communicate with and obtain those services from that person or organization in either official language in any case where those services, if provided by the institution, would be required under this Part to be provided in either official language.

Do they respect the obligations of section 20 of the Charter and of the Official Languages Act?

Section 20: (1) Any member of the public in Canada has the right to communicate with, and to receive available services from, any head or central office of an institution of the Parliament or Government of Canada in English or French, and has the same right with respect to any other office of any such institution where:


there is a significant demand for communications with and services from that office in such language; or


due to the nature of the office, it is reasonable that communications with and services from that office be available in both English and French.

1. The London-Sarnia Regional ACFO Model

A large number of Francophones in this region were complaining about the lack of service in French provided by the office of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). In 1995, following a socio-economic study, the regional ACFO developed a profile of the community. It revealed two needs with respect to HRDC. The first concerned the translation of documents offering jobs, and the second concerned the French-language aspect of the tele-message service provided by the department.

Due to this situation, regional ACFO developed a proposal to the department to provide these services in French. The department responded by choosing to fund the initiative as a job creation project and not out of its operational funds as regional ACFO had requested. Two projects have therefore been funded, which must be negotiated and renewed each year.

The first offers information in French concerning the availability of jobs in the region. In this project, the hiring of two translators and four other persons makes it possible to provide telemessage services in both official languages and to translate brochures and other material.

The second project made it possible to establish a job counselling service in French and a bilingual resource centre located in the London French-language school and community centre. This second project was originally offered in partnership with the Collège des Grands Lacs. Regional ACFO now provides this service, which includes training workshops developed by the department (rights and obligations, HRDC programs, career explorations, etc.) and ongoing support to clients in their job search. The Collège des Grands Lacs shares premises in the London school and community centre and delivers a program entitled Job Connect, a provincial program that also provides employability counselling, but to a different clientele.

The London-Sarnia regional ACFO is a first example of a type of cooperation between a department and a minority official language community. In this example, the appendixes to the contract state that the project’s objective is to provide bilingual service as required by the Official Languages Act and to improve the delivery of employability services to the Frenchspeaking community in the London region. Requirements and the qualifications of the staff to be hired are clearly stipulated, and the bilingual centre must provide services comparable to those provided to the English-speaking community.

When a Francophone comes to the offices of HRDC and wants service in French, he or she is referred to regional ACFO. Since its inception, this centre has received only French-speaking clients. This example illustrates a number of the issues that a department faces in making its decision whether to award a grant in the form of a project or a service contract or to establish a partnership or some other method of cooperation with a community agency to provide its services to the minority official language community. Other examples of this type were observed in Kingston, Hamilton, Labrador City and other centres.

2. The Éducacentre Model (British Columbia)

The mission of ÉducacentreExternal site is to provide adult education and training services in French in British Columbia and, through its activities, to enable individuals to develop and thereby promote their participation in the betterment of the community. To fulfill its mission, Éducacentre offers a range of programs in the areas of employment training, literacy and reclaiming Francophone identity, English as a second language, informatics, and credit courses offered via educational television.

Éducacentre therefore seeks sponsors and signs contribution or grant agreements (40 in 1999) with provincial and federal departments to offer its programming. With a campus in Vancouver, a campus in Victoria and various units in the region, the agency served 916 clients in 1998-1999 and expects to serve 1,500 clients between September 1, 1999, and August 31, 2000.

We visited Éducacentre in the course of this study because it has become a kind of community model for the delivery of employability services which we have inventoried elsewhere. According to the director general, this model will probably become more common in the years to come as other federal institutions adopt new methods of cooperation with community groups.

Éducacentre is impressive for the quality of the services provided, as confirmed by client evaluations, the professionalism of the information and training material produced, and the availability of on-site tools, particularly in the area of informatics.

The director general states unequivocally that Éducacentre was able to develop to this extent thanks to section 41 of the Official Languages Act. She has developed excellent working relations with the regional officers of Human Resources Development Canada, and all the projects show evidence of the desired administrative rigour.

These contribution agreements enable the department to achieve its objectives on two levels: employability, which is its primary vocation, and support for the vitality of the official language minority community.

The agreements specify additional conditions that indicate the close link that must exist between the department and Éducacentre to ensure the quality of service. The following are some pertinent examples:

  • The project officer (HRDC) agrees to liaise between Éducacentre and the office of HRDC. Éducacentre and HRDC will continue, as usual, to provide the best possible service to the Francophones in the region.

  • The project officer will have access to all documentation concerning bookkeeping for the project.

  • The coordinator will inform the project officer upon the hiring of a new employee and when a problem directly related to this project arises.

  • An evaluation of the Case Management pilot project will be conducted by an outside agency during the project’s seventh month.

This final item is very important in making it possible to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative results of the service. This evaluation will determine whether the services provided by Éducacentre are equivalent to those provided by HRDC and whether the principle of equality of treatment of English and French is preserved.

The only irritant to be mentioned is found in the contract with the provincial Department of Education, which requires that any report from Éducacentre be submitted to it in English. This fact may be surprising, especially since Appendix A of the contract clearly states that the province administers these funds on behalf of HRDC.

The Éducacentre model is a new method of cooperation between the community and a department for delivering a service to the linguistic minority community. Certain services are provided under a direct agreement between HRDC and Éducacentre; others are the subject of an agreement between the provincial Department of Education and Éducacentre.

3. The National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resource Development Model

The National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resource Development ( consists of an equal number of representatives of the French-language minority communities and of federal agencies.

The government organizations involved include: Human Resources Development Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canada Business Development Bank, Western Economic Diversification, Industry Canada, Canadian Heritage, Treasury Board, and Public Works and Government Services.

The community party includes three minority Francophone representatives from each region of the country (East, Centre [Ontario] and West) for a total of nine persons.

The principal mandate of the National Committee, created in March 1998, is to provide advice to orient the policies, programs and services of federal agencies party to the agreement to ensure that the latter enhance the development and vitality of the French-language minority communities in Canada.

An equivalent committee exists to serve the English-speaking population of Quebec, namely, the Human Resources Development Committee for the English Linguistic Minority Community.

A support fund of $21,000,000 was established in June 1999 for the two national committees. On the Francophone side, this fund will, over the next three years, support initiatives in four sectors: tourism, rural development, the knowledge economy, and integration of young people into the economic sector.

The strategic priorities of the National Francophone Committee, adopted in November 1999, arise from the mandate, supplementary missions and vision of the community and federal parties.

In addition to administering the national agreement, the Committee has four priorities:

  • to develop a national economic development and employability framework;

  • to promote the ratification of memorandums of understanding between government agencies involved in economic and human resources development and the Regroupements de développement économique et d’employabilité (RDÉE) in the provinces;

  • to participate in developing strategies that engage the Francophone and Acadian communities in the major national and international economic and employability trends;

  • to promote the strategic orientations of the National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resource Development.

The members of the community component of the National Francophone Committee are persons proposed by, among others, the Regroupements de développement économique et d’employabilité (RDÉE) of the provinces. These RDÉEs exist in all the provinces; one of their roles is to support the National Committee in implementing its strategic planning.

A RDÉE, established by the community, may include representatives of the business community, of cooperative, of the community sector, of the municipalities. The RDÉE evaluates human resources and economic development requirements; coordinates federal, provincial and local initiatives; promotes entrepreneurship and the development of the labour market; and ensures ongoing communications between the National Committee and the community.

In some cases, the RDÉEs are similar to the CFDCs (Community Futures Development Corporations). The CFDCs are local economic development agencies that receive funding from the Community Development Program of Industry Canada to ensure the provision of strategic planning services, advice to small businesses, and loans to the rural and isolated communities that they serve.

For example, the Conseil de développement économique des municipalités du Manitoba (CDEM) describes itself as a CFDC+, in the sense that it covers the entire province geographically but serves mainly Francophones.

In western Canada, the four RDÉEs administer a loan fund for Francophone business people in their respective provinces. These funds, created by Western Economic Diversification Canada, do not exceed $500,000 per province and mainly provide small loans to eligible entrepreneurs.

However, the Chambre économique de l’Ontario and the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick are not equivalent to a CFDC.

Ontario has created a consortium of 15 economic and employability agencies. This consortium is the RDÉE for the entire French-speaking community of Ontario, but unlike the RDÉEs in the West, it is not equivalent to a CFDC, because it does not have access to base funding or to the small-loan fund. Francophone officials in Ontario have requested the creation of a Francophone CFDC whose terms and conditions would have to be determined for the various regions of the province. Before responding to this request, Industry Canada ordered a study on the French-language services provided by the CFDCs in Ontario; the results have not yet been published as this report is written (February 2000).

The Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick has recently created an RDÉE for the entire province; this RDÉE will not seek to become the equivalent of a provincial CFDC because there are already a number of regional CFDCs which provide a range of services to Acadian businesses.

1Treasury Board Secretariat, Framework for Alternative Program Delivery, 1995, p.7.
2Ibid., p. 14.

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