Review on Official Languages 2014-2015

Developing and enhancing the vitality of official language minority communities and promoting the use of English and French in Canadian society (Part VII of the Official Languages Act)

1. If your institution had to highlight three key initiatives or more in relation to the development of official-language minority communities, what would those be?

The Department continues to provide financial support to projects and activities of official language minority community organizations as well as organizations dedicated to promoting the use of English and French in Canadian society. From the success of these initiatives, the Department can say that it is achieving its intended strategic outcomes, including ensuring that Canada continues to be a just and law-abiding society with an accessible, efficient and fair system of justice.

Here are a few examples of key initiatives:

Justice Information Hubs

Better access to justice is reflected primarily in the justice system's ability to handle requests for legal information in both official languages and in the emergence of a legally enabled citizenry - that is, a citizenry that is aware of its rights and responsibilities when legal problems arise. There is a need to make Canadians more knowledgeable about their rights and obligations and to better prepare them to deal with the legal issues of day to day life, in the official language of their choice.

The establishment of new service models is necessary to improve the quality, relevance and efficiency of the justice system. The Department encourages the increased use of new technologies, innovative approaches to legal information and information materials developed in collaboration with users, in order to make sure they meet the needs of users of the justice system.

Through the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund, the vehicle for implementing the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities, the Department was able to provide four provincial associations a total of $1 193 165 in funding for 2014-2015 so they could establish justice information hubs. The four associations are the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Nouvelle-Écosse, the Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario (AJEFO), the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Saskatchewan and the Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta.

These projects result from a new approach that focuses on providing services, support and referrals to help people better understand their actual or potential legal challenges and be better equipped to deal with them. In addition to online legal information, in person services are now being provided in four provinces: these provide direct personal contact, with or without an appointment, at no charge and, above all, in the minority official language. Whatever the legal problem, individuals can receive information, guidance and support.

Réseau national de formation en justice (National Justice Training Network)

The Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund provided the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne (AUFC) with $350 219 in funding for 2014-2015 to support the operation of the Réseau national de formation en justice (National Justice Training Network) (RNFJ) and its initiatives.

The ultimate goal of the RNFJ is to increase the capacity of the justice system and its stakeholders to provide services in both official languages. Simply put, the project aims to improve access to justice in French across the country by increasing the number of bilingual individuals for the purposes of their jobs in the justice sector.

The RNFJ has 14 members across the country. They are legal training specialists from the government, the community and post-secondary institutions. The RNFJ's national secretariat will coordinate the implementation of various initiatives by RNFJ members to address identified needs. The RNFJ's goal is to maximize efficiency in training stakeholders in the justice system.

This current phase of the project aims to strengthen the RNFJ and expand collaboration among its members, with a view to developing a detailed training activity plan through 2018.

Families in Transition: Information for Youth

Funding of $46,427 for 2014-2015 was provided by the Policy Sector's Supporting Families Fund to the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland (PLIAN), for a proposed multi-year project aimed at young people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The project will provide young people with accessible, easy-to-understand information about divorce or separation of their parents, and will enhance their knowledge of family law issues such as the law related to custody and access or visitation arrangements, child support, child protection laws and procedures, the legal definition of "divorce," emergency protection orders, and court procedures to deal with family law matters.

The first part of the project intends to deliver approximately 9 workshops over two years in various locations in Newfoundland and Labrador, focusing specifically on rural and Aboriginal communities. Overall, the project is aimed at youth between 11 and 16 years of age. The workshops and multimedia materials will be geared towards this age group and will be produced in an accessible, interactive and entertaining format.

The organization has held a workshop in French directly aimed at the Francophone community in Newfoundland and Labrador. The organization has developed this workshop in consultation with the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, adapting the curriculum as required to address the specific needs of Francophone youth in the province. The organization has also provided French materials and translated the existing "My Parents Live Apart" publication into French.

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