Review on the Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act (2013-2014)

Tangible Results

Development of official language minority communities and promotion of English and French in Canadian society (Section 41, Part VII of the Official Languages Act)

1. What key initiatives does your institution want to highlight in relation to the development of official language minority communities? What are the tangible impacts of these initiatives on/in the official language minority communities? What is the determining success factor for these initiatives?

The Department continues to provide financial support to projects and activities of organizations from official language minority communities as well as organizations dedicated to promoting English and French in Canadian society. The success of these initiatives is tied to departmental values that are reflected in the Department’s strategic outcomes which, for their part, seek to ensure that Canada is a just and law-abiding society with an accessible, efficient and fair system of justice.

Here are a few examples of key initiatives:

Auberge francophone d’accueil et des services aux immigrants (Toronto, Ontario)

Funding of $59,893 for 2013-2014 was provided from the Policy Sector’s Supporting Families Fund for the creation of education and information workshops on family law for immigrants experiencing separation or divorce. The project offers workshops to newcomers on themes such as separation and divorce, custody, alimony, parental rights and responsibilities, the impact of separation or divorce on children, recourses in cases of violence, and emergency assistance services. In addition, the project includes the creation of tools and promotional materials such as videos, brochures and community newspapers.

This initiative was designed by and for official language minority communities. It facilitates access to the family justice system for parents experiencing separation or divorce by providing them with the information they need to comply with their obligations concerning alimony, custody and visitation rights.

Provincial Court of New Brunswick

Under the guidance of the Canadian Council of Chief Judges (provincial courts), the Provincial Court of New Brunswick has developed an applied training program in French legal terminology (in the form of a moot court) and language skills evaluations for the provincial and territorial court judiciary. Provincial courts are the point of entry for the majority of individuals accused of offences under the Criminal Code and, as such, are among the main mechanisms of access to justice in both official languages and of the right to be judged in one’s own official language. To this end, the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities has provided $1,138,452 in funding to the project over three years (2013-2016).

The project includes practical training sessions, the implementation of a skills evaluation program, the implementation of a consultation forum made up of a judge from each province and territory, as well as the development of a mentoring program.

One of the main success factors of the project is the close cooperation between the Provincial Court of New Brunswick and the various key stakeholders, including provincially and territorially appointed judges from other provinces and territories, the Centre canadien de français juridique and the Acadian Peninsula local community. This collaboration is characterized by the development of training content and teaching materials as well as the creation of a total French immersion experience between the judges-in-training and the local community.

Long-term, the project aims to extend its activities to include an English legal terminology component for Francophone judges in Quebec, as well as French-speaking judges from Canadian provinces and territories who need to improve their knowledge of terminology in that language.

In concrete terms, the project helps judges acquire the language skills they need to be able to work in the courtroom in both official languages, so as to ensure that a litigant’s right to a trial in his/her own official language is upheld across the country. It also allows for an evaluation of each judge’s language skills, in order to determine his/her level of linguistic ease based on the types of hearings to which s/he may be assigned (e.g. court appearance, trial, bail hearing, etc.) This last tool may be used by chief judges to help them in assigning resources to the right place at the right time within the court system.

The ultimate impact of this project will be that Francophones outside Quebec and Anglophones in Quebec will receive more legal services in their language, giving them better access to the court system.

Centre canadien de français juridique inc. (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

As part of the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities, funding in the amount of $671,228 for fiscal 2013-2014 was provided to the Centre canadien de français juridique (CCFJ) for its pan-Canadian training program for provincial and territorial stakeholders working within the court system.

This organization offers training in French legal terminology and provides intensive, targeted and ongoing training for clerks, probation officers, provincial Crown prosecutors and legal aid lawyers (excluding Quebec and Ontario). Evaluation activities and self-learning resources are also made available to participants.

The Centre already enjoys a solid reputation for the quality of its legal terminology training. The interest of court stakeholders for learning French legal terminology is evident from the popularity of the program and the high level of commitment on the part of participants. Through this applied training program, the Centre makes a positive and concrete contribution to increasing the number of court stakeholders able to offer judicial and extra-judicial services in both official languages. Each training workshop is adapted and designed to meet the particular needs of each stakeholder group. Among other methods, the training uses workplace simulation activities, language development sessions, and webinars.

Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

As part of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities, a three-year funding contribution (2013-2016) from the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund in the amount of $481,465 was provided tothe University of Manitoba (Robson Hall) Faculty of Law in order to strengthen their ability to offer legal training to students in French.

The project consists of offering law students a program consisting of mandatory and optional courses in French. These courses are made available, in part, thanks to the contribution of Francophone jurists from the Association des juristes d’expression française du Manitoba (AJEFM) who act as instructors. In addition, the project offers a workplace pairing program with judges, as well as internships at the Saint-Boniface Provincial Court. Project funding is also used to develop tools and resources, to explore student interest for pursuing legal studies in French in Manitoba, and to assist in identifying the needs of Manitoba’s population for legal services in French.

This is the second phase of a project initiated in September 2011 by the Faculty of Law to meet the needs expressed by the community for increased legal services in French. Through this project, Francophone and Anglophone bilingual students who wish to practice law in both official languages will have the opportunity to acquire legal knowledge in French. The project also helps meet the needs of Francophone citizens in Manitoba and neighboring areas (Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan).

Once these students graduate and become lawyers, they will be able to serve Francophone citizens from Manitoba and neighbouring areas in their own language.

As such, this project creates learning opportunities for students who wish to acquire legal training in French in order to one day be able to practice law in French. This will enable them to meet the needs of members of the region’s Francophone community, who will have access to a larger pool of lawyers to serve them in the official language of their choice.