Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Training Needs in the Area of Justice

The Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Training Needs in the Area of Justice follows directly from the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality 2008–2013: Acting for the Future, which provides an additional investment of $20 million over five years to enable the Department of Justice Canada to meet the training needs of justice stakeholders.

The purpose of this analysis, which was undertaken in September 2008 at the request of the Department of Justice Canada, was to help in directing efforts related to training activities toward the development of persons currently employed in the justice system and to help in training and recruiting young, bilingual Canadians interested in working in the area of justice.

It should be pointed out that this analysis primarily concerns training needs in criminal law.

The methodology used for this analysis includes:

  • A review of the literature on the division of powers, roles and responsibilities relating to the administration of justice in both official languages (including court decisions and doctrinal texts);
  • A document review of the organization of stakeholders in the area of justice and a list of available training programs;
  • An analysis of socioprofessional data taken from the 2006 Census of Statistics Canada in order to establish the language profile and the evolution of careers in justice;
  • In-person interviews conducted across Canada with key stakeholders who play a role in access to justice in both official languages (specifically lawyers, representatives from departments of Justice or Attorney General in each province and territory, post-secondary educational institutions and jurilinguistic centres);
  • Field case studies in four provinces (Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec);
  • A panel of experts to validate the preliminary findings and proposed solutions.

The report on this analysis, submitted on March 31, 2009, provides the Department of Justice with valuable information and proposed strategies for consolidating previously undertaken training activities and tackling areas where needs were only partially met. The analysis reveals that despite a significant ability among judges, lawyers and notaries to communicate in both official languages, there are gaps among support staff in the justice system; this is especially the case for clerks, bailiffs, assistants and probation officers. The analysis stresses that for a court to be institutionally bilingual, a command of legal vocabulary in both languages is essential.

The analysis groups under three major types of training activities the 11 proposed strategies that aim to meet the training needs that it identifies. The proposed strategies are as follows:

Basic training
  1. The law schools should consider offering courses specifically in the practice of law in both official languages.
  2. The access to qualified court interpreters in every region of the country should be the focus of a joint strategy between justice stakeholders and interpreters' associations.
  3. The training programs offered to clerks, court reporters and registry officers should include modules specifically on bilingual court proceedings.
  4. The institutions that offer training for legal assistants should work in partnership with each other and directly with la Cité collégiale and le Collège Boréal in order to expand the access to training aiming specifically the bilingual command of legal vocabulary.
  5. The criminology programs should offer courses specifically on professional practices in both official languages.
Intensive activities
  1. The model of Ontario’s French Language Institute for Professional Development should be extended to make it accessible across Canada.
  2. The key stakeholders in the area of criminal law could benefit from exchanges allowing them to improve their bilingual command of criminal law vocabulary.
Regular activities
  1. The various relevant stakeholders should develop a joint strategy for broadening access to targeted training sessions.
  2. The recruitment and training of qualified trainers to teach targeted sessions should receive special attention.
  3. The training stakeholders should consider increasing the information technologies content of their targeted training sessions.
  4. The training stakeholders should consider developing learning tools that could be used independently of formal training sessions.

Given the vast organizational structures in which the training activities are to be carried out and the inevitable methodological and pedagogical considerations, the analysis suggested the creation of a training advisory committee, the role of which would be to guide the Department's actions in its management strategy for this new investment. This committee, known as The Group of Wise, consists of a small number of people with proven expertise in training and applied knowledge of the institutional network.

The Group of Wise has already identified possibilities for facilitating the implementation of the new training initiative, stimulating current partnerships, as well as promoting and fostering the development of projects and activities to improve access to justice in both official languages.


Linda DuPont
Legal Counsel
Justice in Official Languages

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