Justice in Official Languages - Newsletter
(No04 | February 2012)

A new Action Plan

In June 2011, the Executive Committee of the Department of Justice Canada adopted the 2011-2016 Action Plan for the Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act. The new plan differs from the previous five-year action plan in several respects.

Community logic and organizational logic

The Department’s first action plan covered the years 2005 to 2010 and was based on community logic. This approach enabled us to begin the first phase of the implementation of Section 41 at the Department of Justice Canada. Experience demonstrates that the time has come to start implementing Section 41 according to the Department’s organizational culture. This means that the application of Section 41 must be based on the Department’s policies and programs. This logic is reflected in the Action Plan’s key directions, which are supported by positive measures.

Key objectives

The Action Plan is based on three strategic objectives: entrenchment, integration and convergence.

1. Entrenchment: Justice in official languages

The entrenchment of justice in official languages aims to integrate Section 41 of the Official Languages Act in the organizational culture of the Department. One way to achieve this is by continuing to build awareness among departmental stakeholders and inform them about issues involving justice in official languages.

2. Integration: Increasing knowledge

For these issues to be part of the Department’s policies and programs, it is important to use data and knowledge that will help define the results to be attained and the actions to be taken.

The Department plans to acquire this knowledge by adopting a series of positive measures, including by conducting case studies and analyses, as well as by integrating a differentiated analysis of justice in official languages into research and evaluation projects.

3. Convergence: Mobilizing stakeholders

In accordance with the JOL Team’s work philosophy, which consists of championing a spirit of collaboration, the initiatives presented in the Action Plan will be achieved in partnership with many federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and non-governmental stakeholders.

The Department of Justice Canada is also committed to showing leadership through various formal and informal consultation and engagement processes. These include theAdvisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages, and the Justice and Security Network, as well as existing collaborative spaces in official language minority communities.

A novel approach: positive measures

Since 2005, subsection 41(2) of the Official Languages Act states that all federal institutions, including the Department of Justice Canada, must ensure that positive measures are taken for the implementation of the commitment under subsection 41(1). Not only does the Action Plan actually use the expression “positive measures”, but it also specifies two categories: “process” measures and “results” measures. Positive “process” measures must lead to the implementation of positive “results” measures in support of the Department’s program activities. These positive measures are organized around the three strategic objectives.

Part VII of the Official Languages Act: Advancement of English and French

41. (1) The Government of Canada is committed to

(a) enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and supporting and assisting their development; and

(b) fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

(2) Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that positive measures are taken for the implementation of the commitments under subsection (1). For greater certainty, this implementation shall be carried out while respecting the jurisdiction and powers of the provinces.

Part VII of the OLA includes sections 41 to 45.

Departmental policy statement

In 2011, the Department was innovative in adopting a policy statement as part of its Action Plan. This statement clearly indicates that the implementation of Section 41 is not optional, as it arises from a legislative provision contained in a quasi-constitutional law.