Justice in Official Languages - Newsletter
No 12 | June 2015
French language services in the justice sector: the Ontario model
Source: Anik Sauvé
Sabine, can you explain how your strategic planning process began?
In 2005, the Office of the Coordinator of French Language Services (FLS), at that time directed by Marcel Castonguay, wanted to undertake this extensive exercise. He invited Linda Cardinal, who holds the Chair in Canadian Francophonie and Public Policies (CCFPP) at the University of Ottawa, to do an environmental scan. The study provided a very clear picture of FLS in the Justice Sector. A few months after it was published, the results of the research were validated through the Francophone Stakeholders’ Meeting, a consultation with about a hundred community actors and government officials gathered in Toronto.
The guiding principles and priority issues that arose from that meeting were incorporated in the first Strategic Plan for the Development of French Language Services in Ontario’s Justice Sector, which was published in 2006. It received significant support from both Ontario’s Justice Sector Deputy Ministers as well as the members of the committee created to oversee the exercise. This process became recognized as a best practice within the Ontario Public Service early on.
Can you tell us a bit about the Francophone Stakeholders’ Meeting?
This meeting has taken place every year since 2003. It is a forum that allows stakeholders and managers from across the Justice Sector to come together to identify priorities and best practices, while at the same time creating a collaborative space for the development of initiatives related to the Strategic Plan.
Since it has become a consultation mechanism, the Francophone Stakeholders’ Meeting also allows managers to present their operational plans and progress achieved, which are then discussed and validated by community stakeholders. Our strategic planning is done in close co-operation with the Coalition des intervenantes et intervenants francophones en justice.
Who is part of the Coalition?
The Coalition comprises the Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes, the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario, the Association française des municipalités de l’Ontario, the Fédération des aînés et des retraités francophones de l’Ontario and the Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne.
A study revealed that this coalition constitutes a social innovation within the Canadian Francophonie. Conducted by the Research Alliance (CURA) Knowledge-based Community Governance of the University of Ottawa, it mentions that although it is “[c]haracterized by an informal community governance, and based on the collegiality and expertise of certain individuals, the Coalition has also entered the field of public governance by becoming a quasi-formal mechanism for FLS accountability in the Justice Sector.”Footnote 1
The Coalition has contributed to formalizing a consultation and participation mechanism as part of strategic planning and plays a key role in increasing an active offer of FLS in Ontario’s Justice Sector.
How would you characterize the work relationship that has developed between managers and community stakeholders?
Last year, during the Francophone Stakeholders’ Meeting, we surveyed participants to analyze the impact of this community/government co-operation.
The feedback from community organizations showed that sharing expertise and resources helps reinforce the strengths of each and serves as a catalyst for progress. Furthermore, collaboration between organizations now happens naturally.
As for managers, they consider themselves privileged to have access to the advice of community experts at all stages of planning and implementation of FLS. Therefore, they can better meet the needs of the various targeted groups within the Francophone community.
This approach is now rooted in the culture of Ontario’s Justice Sector ministries. After two strategic plans, spanning from 2006 to 2010 and 2011 to 2015, we know that involving community stakeholders and consulting with them regularly helps us better define the service models required to meet the real and current needs of the community.
Your second strategic plan ends this year. What are the next steps that you foresee for the development of FLS?
Our next steps are being considered, in co-operation with the members of the Coalition. Although we have not yet determined what form the next phase of our strategic planning exercise will take, what we already know is that the initiative has become an ongoing practice fully supported by senior management. At the last Francophone Stakeholders’ Meeting, held in February 2015, the Attorney General of Ontario Madeleine Meilleur reiterated her support to the development of FLS in our sector and underlined the importance of being innovators and leaders in our field. We will continue to ensure that FLS are incorporated systematically and permanently in Justice Sector’s accountability mechanisms.
Sabine, thank you for granting us this interview.
2011: Strategic Plan for the Development of French Language Services in Ontario’s Justice Sector (2011-2015) (not available online)
2004: Creation of the French Language Institute for Professional Development
In each issue of the Newsletter, Capsule 41 presents a coordinator responsible for the implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act at the Department of Justice Canada.
In this issue, we would like to introduce you to Marie-Josée Poirier, counsel in the Family, Children and Youth Section, who is an active member of Network 41 as a policy coordinator.
Marie-Josée Poirier, counsel in the Family, Children and Youth Section and policy coordinator.
Source: Anik Sauvé
Marie-Josée is from Gatineau (Hull sector). She studied civil law at the University of Ottawa and obtained her Bachelor of Law degree in 1997. She spent six years working at the Centre communautaire juridique de l’Outaouais, where she practiced mainly in the areas of family law and youth law. She then worked in litigation at the Centre jeunesse de l’Outaouais for two years. In 2006, she joined the Department of Justice Canada and has been working since 2007 in the Department’s Policy Sector, more specifically the Family, Children and Youth Section, where she develops and prepares family law policy.
Section 41 Coordinator
Marie-Josée works with the provinces and territories to help ensure that provincial child support organizations are able to offer services in both official languages to separated or divorced parents. As part of her role, she meets with family law stakeholders working with families going through a separation or divorce. “My role as a Section 41 Coordinator enables me to help these stakeholders promote access to justice in both official languages.”
Did you know?
Marie-Josée is very active both in the community and as a lawyer. She is involved in services for troubled children and youth and always finds time to help out her local bar association.
A LOOK at some of the projects funded by the Department of Justice Canada under the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities
Access to justice in French for young Francophone immigrants
The organization La Passerelle – Intégration et développement économique will develop the second phase of its project aiming to educate young Francophone immigrants and their parents about the justice system and to promote justice related career opportunities. Promotional activities and culturally adapted tools will be developed, and workshops on the justice system will be held in many cities accross the country.
Access to justice in both official languages in Newfoundland and Labrador
The Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, in partnership with the Fédération des Francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador, will study the state of access to justice in French within the province. They will explore the particular needs of Francophones, as well as their knowledge of the legal services and resources available. The goal of the project is to make it easier for Francophones in Newfoundland and Labrador to exercise their language rights, and to encourage them to do so.
French Language Institute for Professional Development
Led by the Office of the Coordinator of French Language Services for Ontario’s Justice Sector ministries, the French Language Institute for Professional Development will once again provide an annual one-week training on French legal terminology. The training will target Crown counsel, administrative staff, legal aid lawyers, police officers, and employees of social agencies dealing with victims-related issues.
The creation of justice information hubs: Two centres are inaugurated
In the last issue of the Newsletter, we described a new approach to offering legal information, support and referral services to Anglophone and Francophone minorities: justice information hubs. Here are the centres recently inaugurated in Halifax and Ottawa.
The Accès Justice Access centre was inaugurated on November 21, 2014, a day which also marked the 20th anniversary of the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Nouvelle-Écosse. The centre provides legal information and referral services in both official languages, based on the needs of the Acadian and Francophone communities of Nova Scotia.
From left to right: Allan Damer, Sacha Baharmand, Réjean Aucoin and the Hon. J. Michael MacDonald, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia.
Source: Marie-Claude Huot (Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse).
The Ottawa Legal Information Centre was opened on January 15, 2015. Spearheaded by the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario, the centre provides free legal information and referral services in French or in English, to people living in the Ottawa area.
From left to right: François Baril, Andrée Anne Martel, Michel Francoeur, the Hon. Thomas A. Cromwell, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Hon. Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General of Ontario and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.
Source: Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario.
Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages
The annual meeting of the Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages was held in Ottawa on March 24, 2015.
The meeting was attended by roughly forty representatives of community groups, associations of French-speaking jurists, the legal community, universities and the federal government. The meeting led to constructive discussions and points to consider with respect to priorities and needs of the official language minority communities.
Source: Mathieu Langlois.
You can learn more about the advisory committee’s role here!
Video wins award
Don’t miss the video on bullying entitled “Dis non à l’intimidation” for which the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario won Silver at the Mercury Excellence Awards in the Educational/Informational category (video in French only).
Have a project or event you’d like to announce in the Newsletter? Write to us!
What do the colours of the Franco-Ontarian flag represent?
Source: Canadian Heritage, “La Francophonie - Canada and the Canadian Francophonie”.
You will find the answer at the end of the Newsletter!
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Answer to the OLQuiz
What do the colours of the Franco-Ontarian flag represent?
Green represents summer, and white, winter. (Source: Canadian Heritage, “La Francophonie - Canada and the Canadian Francophonie”.)
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