Review on Official Languages 2017-2018

Prepared by Official Languages Directorate – Public Law and Legislative Services Sector, Department of Justice Canada 2018

Minister responsible:

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Deputy Head:

Nathalie G. Drouin, Ad.E., Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada

Official Languages Champion (or other senior official(s) responsible for official languages):

Isabelle T. Jacques, Assistant Deputy Minister, Central Agencies Portfolio

Name of the person responsible for official languages (Parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act (OLA)):

Human Resources Branch
275 Sparks Street
Room 8026
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8

Name of the national coordinator or contact person responsible for the implementation of section 41 (Part VII) of the OLA:

Official Languages Directorate, Public Law and Legislative Services Sector
350, rue Albert St., Suite 350
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8

Name(s) of the regional contact person(s) for section 41 of the OLA (if applicable):

British Columbia
Wendy Divoky
Deputy Director
Business and Regulatory Law Services
British Columbia Regional Office
Robson Court 900 – 840 Howe Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2S9
Tel.: 604-775-6013
Wendy.Divoky@justice.gc.ca

Alberta
Debjani Poddar
Counsel
Civil Litigation and Advisory Services
Prairie Regional Office
EPCOR Tower
300, 20423 – 101st Street
Edmonton, AB T5H 0E7
Tel.: 780-495-7235
debjani.poddar@justice.gc.ca

Saskatchewan
Daryl Schatz
Regional Director
Business and Regulatory Law Portfolio
Prairie Regional Office
123, 2nd Avenue South, 10th Floor
Saskatoon, SK  S7K 7E6
Tel. : 306-975-5190
daryl.schatz@justice.gc.ca

Manitoba
Jean-Daniel Boulet
Counsel
Aboriginal Law
Prairie Regional Office
310 Broadway Avenue, suite 301
Winnipeg, MB  R3C 0S6
Tel.: 204-230-9576
jean-daniel.boulet@justice.gc.ca

Ontario
Diane Dagenais
Deputy Regional Director and Senior Counsel
Ontario Regional Office
Exchange Tower
130 King Street West, suite 3400
Toronto, ON  M5X 1K6
Tel.: 416-973-9711
diane.dagenais@justice.gc.ca

Quebec
Suzanne Trudel
Counsel
Immigration Law Directorate
Quebec Regional Office
Guy-Favreau Complex
200 René-Lévesque Blvd. West
East Tower, 9th Floor
Montreal, QC  H2Z 1X4
Tel.: 514-496-2594
suzanne.trudel@justice.gc.ca

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador
Kim Duggan
Legal Counsel
Atlantic Regional Office
Duke Tower
5251 Duke St., suite 1400
Halifax, NS  B3J 1P3
Tel.: 902-426-9104
kim.duggan@justice.gc.ca 

Yukon
Alex Benitah
Regional Director General
Northern Regional Office
Yukon Office
300 Main St., suite 310
Whitehorse, YT  Y1A 2B5
Tel.: 867-667-3923
alex.benitah@justice.gc.ca

Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Alexandre Larouche
Deputy Regional Director General
Northern Regional Office
Northwest Territories Office
5019-52nd Street, 2nd Floor Nova Plaza
PO Box 2052
Yellowknife, NT  X1A 2P5
Tel.: 867-920-6012
alexandre.larouche@justice.gc.ca

Development of official-language minority communities and promotion of English and French in Canadian society (Part VII of the Official Languages Act) – Tangible Results

Question 1:

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

  • Describe these initiatives.
  • What are the tangible impacts of these initiatives on/in the official-language minority communities?
  • What do you think is the determining factor for the success of these initiatives?

Answer:

Foreword

The Department of Justice Canada is dedicated to developing and maintaining a fair, adaptable and accessible Canadian justice system. This strategic objective of the federal government is a responsibility also assumed by other institutions and organizations, including Parliament, the federal judiciary and, to a large extent, provincial and territorial governments. With respect to the administration of justice, the Department of Justice ensures a bilingual and bijural national legal framework in order to reinforce the public's confidence in the justice delivered in Canada, which is a condition for a just and democratic society.

The Department also considers the full and equal recognition of the language rights of members of official language minority communities (OLMCs) to be one of the conditions necessary for their vitality and development. When they are provided with tools to deal with legal issues in the official language of their choice, members of OLMCs are in a better position to assert their rights or, at the very least, to reduce the obstacles they have to overcome to do so.

This is why the Department of Justice plays a key role in the implementation of federal strategies for official languages, such as the Roadmap for Canada's official languages 2013-2018: Education immigration communities (Roadmap) and the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund (Support Fund).

The Support Fund is designed to provide resources to increase the capacity of the justice system and its stakeholders to offer legal services in both official languages and to increase awareness in OLMCs, and particularly lawyers and legal practitioners in those communities, of the importance of exercising their rights in both official languages. More specifically, the Department has provided funding of more than $32 million to OLMCs since the launch of the Roadmap in 2013. Thanks to the joint effort of various sectors of the Department, including the Programs Branch and the Official Languages Directorate (OLAD), which are the key players in charge of the Support Fund, more than 125 projects have been developed, many of which spanned multiple years.

In the Department of Justice’s Review on Official Languages 2017-2018, we are pleased to present the main activities that the Department carried out in support of OLMCs and to promote official languages within Canadian society.

Activities arising from the Roadmap

There have been multiple benefits from the Department of Justice's positive measures with regards to OLMCs. Below, we describe three projects funded by the Support Fund, each of which, in its own way, aims to improve access to justice in both official languages.

Justice information hubs

To strengthen the capacity and improve the efficiency of the Canadian justice system, justice information hubs give Canadians access to personalized services that often complement the information provided by other means such as websites. Their purpose is to inform Canadians of their rights and obligations and thus better prepare them to deal with legal issues in the official language of their choice.

Since 2013, hubs have been established in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. They each provide a range of services including information on legal rights and obligations, courtroom procedure, and legal and community resources available to all.

In order to strengthen its support for OLMCs, the Department of Justice has provided funding since 2013 for the establishment and strengthening of the justice information hubs' organizational structure. That investment in the community is a significant positive measure taken by the Department of Justice under the Roadmap.

Legal information portals

The purpose of the legal information portals is to compile and distribute legal information to the general public. In 2017-18, the Department of Justice renewed funding to the following projects:

Éducaloi 

Éducaloi's mission is to help citizens understand their legal rights and responsibilities by providing them with legal information in plain language. Éducaloi is available to everyone in Quebec, and its Internet portal offers information in French, as well as in English for Quebec's English-speaking community including allophones whose first official language is English. The resources, information and tools developed by Éducaloi have been translated and adapted to meet the specific needs of this OLMC.

CliquezJustice.ca

CliquezJustice is a Web resource developed by the Association de juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario. It is a portal providing legal information in French for the general public. To meet the needs of Ontario's French-speaking population, while also providing service to Francophones across Canada, CliquezJustice.ca includes legal information about various provinces in Canada, including educational resources specifically designed for students in primary and secondary schools. It also includes a variety of legal resources for teachers and guidance counsellors and a search engine to make the information easy to find.

People-First Approach to Improving Access to Justice in English in Three Specific Areas

Through the Support Fund, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) managed and implemented this project aimed at dealing with access-to-justice problems experienced by Quebec's English-speaking community and will seek to make recommendations to alleviate or overcome the issues and challenges of access to justice for this OLMC. To achieve these results, the QCGN has set the objective of developing strategic analyses with respect to three specific groups: (a) seniors; (b) youth in need of protection or who interact with the justice system; and (c) people who deal with labour-relations issues. The QCGN organized a forum in April 2018 to present and complete these results, as well as to develop an action plan centered on residents to improve access to justice in English in Quebec.

Activities on the margins of the Roadmap to contribute to the development and vitality of OLMCs

The Department of Justice has taken several measures to better manage the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund, notably by establishing the Departmental Network of Coordinators Responsible for the Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act (Network 41), the Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages, and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages.

These measures have enabled the Department to maintain a close relationship with the OLMCs, to periodically conduct consultations with representative organizations, and to contribute to effective government coordination with respect to official languages.

Departmental Network of Coordinators Responsible for the Implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act (Network 41)

Comprised of legal counsel from the Department working in regional offices, as well as program coordinators and policy coordinators, "Network 41" is the main means of implementing section 41 at the Department of Justice. The mandate of the Network members is to ensure liaison with community organizations in their region of the country and with their counterparts from other federal departments.

The regional coordinators participate in a range of awareness activities, interdepartmental initiatives and events run by community organizations. For their part, program and policy coordinators contribute their expertise when OLMC community organizations submit requests for funding from the Support Fund or when the Department implements programs or policies or reviews them. The regional coordinators worked hard to help implement section 41, as evidenced by their many activities in 2017-18:

  • Meetings via teleconference of the Atlantic Region Federal Council
  • Legal terminology workshop organized by the Centre canadien de français juridique on issues related to evidence and aboriginal practice
  • La journée fransaskoise du droit (Franco-Saskatchewan Law Day) 2018, organized by the Association des juristes d’expression française de la Saskatchewan
  • Journée internationale de la Francophonie by Franco-Fête
  • Meeting of the intervenant.e.s francophones du secteur de la Justice
  • Meetings of the Atlantic Region Section 41 Network with Canadian Heritage
  • Meetings of the Official Languages Interdepartmental Network of Manitoba
  • Annual General Meeting of the Association des juristes d’expression française du Manitoba
  • Conference on Future of Linguistic Duality – Toronto, organized by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
  • Meetings of the Official Languages Committee of the Federal Council of British Columbia
  • Activities of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario
  • Activities of the Ontario Official Languages Interdepartmental Network (OOLIN)
  • Annual General Meeting of the Société de la francophonie manitobaine
Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages

This committee was created to act as a liaison between legal representatives from OLMCs, advocacy groups for these communities, and the Department of Justice. In 2017, the Advisory Committee held its annual meeting in Ottawa in May. The meeting enabled the Department to better identify the issues of OLMCs as well as to raise awareness of the considerations that guided the sectoral consultations on access to justice in both official languages held in 2016-17.

Approximately forty community organizations took part in the Advisory Committee's meeting in 2017. Nathalie Drouin, then Associate Deputy Minister of Justice, opened the session, and a representative of Canadian Heritage presented a report on the Canada-wide consultations in support of the next Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023. Three roundtables sessions deliberated on the issues of access to justice for newcomers, for the English-speaking community in Quebec, and for remote or less accessible communities.

Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages

See the response to question 2.

Justice in Official Languages – Newsletter

Among the Department's best practices for the implementation of section 41, we note the publication of the Justice in Official Languages newsletter. More than 700 subscribers receive this electronic publication prepared by the OLAD's Justice in Official Languages Team twice per year. The June 2017 issue provided, among other things, an overview of projects funded by the Support Fund and a description of three other funds managed by the Department: the Youth Justice Fund, the Victims Fund, and the Supporting Families Fund. The spring/summer 2018 issue presented the new Court Challenges Program and announced the Department’s launch of the second edition of the Annotated Language Laws of Canada on CanLII and on the Open Government portal (see also under question 4).

Senior management's commitment to official languages

In 2016, the Justice Steering Committee on Official Languages approved the merger of two department-wide internal action plans concerning the application of the Official Languages Act. The first concerned Parts IV, V and VI, including the application of requirements related to official languages in all classification and staffing actions, notably the application of the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order. The second action plan was a strategic plan for Part VII of the OLA, from which stem most of the Department's key positive measures for the implementation of section 41 mentioned above (Network 41, the Advisory Committee and the FPT Working Group, among others). 

The Human Resources Branch as well as OLAD have combined their efforts to draft a new Departmental Action Plan for Official Languages 2017-2022, which describes the measures and initiatives, section leads, and timelines for the application of the OLA to the entire organization for the following parts of the Act:

  • Part III – Administration of Justice
  • Part IV – Communications with and Services to the Public
  • Part V – Language of Work
  • Part VI – Participation of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians
  • Part VII – Advancement of English and French (section 41)
  • Part XI – General Provisions (section 91 – Staffing)

This Departmental Action Plan for Official Languages is a flexible, open framework that can be easily adapted to the government’s key policy directions and to the concrete official languages steps that the Department has taken, is taking or will take between 2017 and 2022. The measures outlined in this plan will help the Department fulfill its responsibilities in terms of fully implementing the OLA. It was approved in June 2017 by the Department's Management Committee and will remain in effect until 2022.

In 2017-18, the Department’s senior management was actively engaged in the dialogue surrounding the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018–2023: Investing in Our Future. Represented by the Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Law and Legislative Services Sector, and/or the Director and General Counsel of OLAD, the Department of Justice attended the meetings of the following committees:

  • Interdepartmental Director General Committee (DG Forum) of Roadmap 2013–2018 partners
  • Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions
  • Committee of Assistant Deputy Ministers on Official Languages (CADMOL)
  • CADMOL secretariat (formerly the Executive Sub-Committee of Assistant Deputy Ministers on Official Languages)
Government response to the Eighth Report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, on March 29, 2018, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, presented the government response to the ten recommendations in the Report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages entitled “Ensuring Justice is Done in Both Official Languages”.

In her public response to the Chair of the Standing Committee, the Minister of Justice indicated, on behalf of the government, that she shared the Committee’s overall vision as demonstrated by the government’s Action Plan to Enhance the Bilingual Capacity of the Superior Courts (September 25, 2017). She also reiterated the government’s commitment to access to justice in both official languages by confirming an additional $10 million in funding over five years beginning in 2018–19 for the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund, an increase of 25 %.

The document containing the government response may be read on the Committee’s website.

Key Success Factors

The determining factor in the success of the Support Fund's initiatives is the flexible approach the Department strives for with respect to access to justice. It involves looking at access-to-justice issues as being broader than the mere act of asserting one's rights before a court.

The Department has been successful in implementing section 41 thanks to the sustained efforts of Network 41, the Advisory Committee and the FPT Working Group, because they effectively ensure the liaison between the various stakeholders, including representatives of OLMCs, the legal community, and provincial and territorial governments.

In addition, under the leadership of two departmental Champions of Official Languages, who took turns participating in the development of the Department's Plan for Official Languages 2017-2022, this project made it possible to engage roughly 40 employees from various sectors of the Department. The Action Plan is posted on the Department’s website to raise awareness among employees and community partners of obligations under the OLA and of the Department's commitments with respect to the Act, including the implementation of Part VII (section 41).

The existence of the Official Languages Steering Committee and a network of sector and regional official languages champions within the Department, coupled with executives' active participation on interdepartmental committees (Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions, DG Forum and CADMOL), clearly demonstrates senior management's commitment to official languages. Departmental officials have ensured that there is an alignment between the needs of OLMCs, departmental imperatives, and the government's strategic priorities as evidenced, notably, by the new Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future.

Question 2:

If your institution had to highlight three key initiatives or more in relation to the promotion of English and French in Canadian society (Please do not confuse with obligations related to Parts IV and V), which ones would those be?

  • Describe these initiatives.
  • What are the tangible impacts of these initiatives on the Canadian society?
  • What do you think is the determining factor for the success of these initiatives?

Answer:

Activities arising from the Roadmap

Ever since the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018 was launched, the Support Fund has provided substantial support to various organizations from official-language minority communities (OLMCs). The goal of this funding was to improve the delivery of training programs to help legal professionals to provide service to Canadians in the official language of the client's choice. Various organizations have benefited from the Support Fund during the 2017-18 fiscal year. Several initiatives that have had a positive impact on the promotion of English and French in Canadian society are outlined below:

Language training program for provincially appointed judges

Week-long legal training sessions in French were held twice this past year, in the Acadian peninsula and in Moncton. They were intended for provincially appointed judges who wished to improve their abilities to hear cases in French. Training activities included workshops to improve oral expression, simulations involving police testimony, court appearances, and mock trials. The training culminated in social activities that encouraged communication in French. The program also gave participants an opportunity to observe proceedings of the New Brunswick provincial court at Caraquet. In 2017-18, 43 judges took French-language training adapted to their level of comfort in communicating in French.

Similarly, training in legal English for the judges of the Quebec provincial court took place in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. In 2017-18, 12 judges took part in this program.

Réseau national de formation en Justice

Since 2014, the Réseau national de formation en Justice (RNFJ) has worked to increase the number of persons able to offer services to people from OLMCs involved in the justice system and to improve access to training and jurilinguistic tools for stakeholders.

The secretariat of the Association des collèges et universités de la Francophonie canadienne is responsible for managing the RNFJ and for coordinating its activities and those of its 14 member organizations across Canada, consisting of legal training specialists from government, the community, and post-secondary institutions.

Jurilinguistic Centres

These centres contribute to the vitality of Canada's official languages by producing linguistic reference works and standardizing common law terminology in French and specialized civil law vocabulary in English. These activities are important for OLMCs because of Canada's bijural nature. The centres are also members of the RNFJ.

These organizations create jurilinguistic tools for law professors, lawyers, as well as legal professionals who work in legislative services in the federal, provincial and territorial governments. These specialized linguistic reference works produced by experts working in Canada's two official languages and two legal traditions provide standardized terminology that is regularly updated.

Through the Support Fund, the Department of Justice supports the following organizations:

  • The Centre for legal translation and documentation at the University of Ottawa
  • The Centre de traduction et de terminologie juridique at the University of Moncton
  • The Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law, McGill University
  • The Division d’éducation permanente et de service de perfectionnement linguistique at the University of Saint-Boniface
Jurisource.ca

This is a virtual library created by the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario.

Jurisource.ca provides a search engine capable of identifying thousands of resources, such as statutes, court decisions, studies, research, procedural templates, and glossaries. The portal also offers a platform for collaboration and interaction via distance learning.

Jurisource.ca is a direct service for legal professionals who work in OLMCs. It consolidates resources that would otherwise be scattered and fragmented all over the Internet, which makes it easier to find legal information quickly. Accordingly, Francophone jurists have better access to sources of information and reference material that they need to practise in French anywhere in Canada.

Activities outside the Roadmap to promote French and English in Canadian society

Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie

The 22nd conference of ministers responsible for the Canadian Francophonie, which was held June 22-23, 2017, in Gatineau, had access to justice in French outside Quebec as an area of focus. As a result of their discussions, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for the Francophonie were invited by the Conference's co-chair, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, to adopt the following recommendation: "The provincial, territorial and federal ministers of the Conference agree to review with their colleague responsible for justice measures to allow the use of French in the judicial process regarding family law matters and put forward identified solutions at the next annual meeting of the Conference in 2018."

Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages (the FPT Working Group) is made up of representatives of each of the departments of justice and attorneys general, and those responsible for Francophone affairs from the 14 jurisdictions. The FPT Working Group held its annual meeting in Halifax in November 2017, and was co-chaired by the representative of the government of Nova Scotia, along with the Department of Justice Canada. The Group's mandate covers the implementation of the linguistic provisions in the Criminal Code, particularly Part XVII (language of the accused), but it also covers other legal issues related to matters of shared jurisdiction. The FPT Working Group also has the role of facilitating dialogue on best practices in each jurisdiction.

The topics discussed at this meeting included challenges and best practices in family justice in French and training for people who work in family law. These topics are directly related to the resolution passed at the last Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie inviting Canadian Francophonie ministers to support their justice counterparts in improving access to legal and judicial services in family matters. Some other topics covered at the meeting were forming bilingual juries and sectorial consultation regarding access to justice in both official languages.

Promotion of official languages to employees

In 2017-18, about 100 Department of Justice employees took part in various activities for Linguistic Duality Day (September 2017) and the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie (March 2018). To further promote linguistic duality, articles were published in employee newsletters and announcements were made using screens set up at Justice workplaces.

Justice and Security Network

Since 2007, following a request from Canadian Heritage, the Department of Justice regularly participates in the Justice and Security Network, whose mandate is to bring together all federal justice and security stakeholders to discuss issues related to security, justice and official languages. In 2017-18, OLAD represented the Department within the network, which enabled us to exchange best practices with other federal stakeholders.

Key success factors

The coordination of actions taken with stakeholders from various sectors is one of the key success factors, given the Department of Justice’s responsibilities towards OLMCs. The Department must meet identified needs and maximize efficiency in managing available financial resources, including the contributions provided from the Support Fund. In addition, the target clients of the Support Fund are persons who have direct or indirect contact with those involved with the justice system. The projects funded cover a broad range of legal fields such as civil, family, immigration, criminal and administrative law.

Language training for justice system stakeholders, terminological work, and the translation of legal documents are, in our view, key elements in improving access to justice in both official languages. The progress made through the promotion of official languages in Canadian society contributes significantly to maintaining the linguistic vitality of French and English in Canada.

Question 3:

What “key achievement” having a regional impact (success stories or results in official-language minority communities or on the promotion of English and French in Canadian society) would your institution like to highlight?

Answer:

pratiquO

With the support of the Government of Ontario and the Department of Justice Canada, the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa created pratiquO, a professional-development training centre. Since its launch in June 2017, pratiquO has offered live conferences and workshops, as well as online training in various areas of law. With the goal of promoting professional excellence for all members of the legal community, the pratiquO Centre offers, among other things, distance training to judges and other Francophone and francophile legal professionals to improve access to justice in French and, if possible, to meet the requirements of the various law societies in Canada. Moreover, in cooperation with Jurisource.ca (a project of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario), pratiquO launched Juriblogue, a French-language platform for legal news and commentary. By emphasizing information and communication technology, pratiquO is well-placed to have a positive impact, especially on Francophone and francophile lawyers who wish to maintain a high level of language skills in their law practice when they provide legal services to people from Francophone minority communities or remote areas.

Rural Alberta Justice Bus

Geographical remoteness and a lack of available legal services in French are, without a doubt, major issues for many Alberta Francophones. To fill these gaps, the Alberta Rural Development Network launched a project to provide free legal workshops. In 2017-18, law students travelled to nine Francophone rural communities in Alberta to offer private and confidential consultations on various problems and issues under the supervision of a volunteer lawyer. This project, funded by the Support Fund, makes it possible for law and justice in French to be more accessible for members of these communities.

Cybersafety and the Law: Information for Youth in French – Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador

The Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PLIAN) is an independent, non-profit organization that organizes sessions to inform Newfoundland and Labrador Francophones dealing with the courts about their rights and the legal system. PLIAN is also the province's official representative in the Public Legal Education Association of Canada.

Through online activities specifically targeting young Francophones, PLIAN helps improve awareness of their rights and responsibilities in collaboration with Francophone organizations and Francophone or French-immersion schools. The project provides young people from OLMCs with the legal information they need to make informed decisions when they are active online.

Feasibility study to promote access to justice in French in Newfoundland and Labrador

With the support of the Department of Justice Canada, the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador (FFTNL) is seeking to better identify the need for access to justice in French. To do so, the FFTNL launched a call for tenders during the winter of 2017-18 for a study to be carried out, with a view to identifying available resources available and tools enabling the members of the Francophone minority community to take advantage of legal services in French in the province. By conducting this study in a coordinated and effective manner, the FFTNL also seeks to raise awareness among Francophone and francophile law professionals of the importance of providing legal services in French. The funding for this project is aimed at supporting the FFNTL in its primary mission of promoting the local Francophonie and developing the Francophone and Acadian communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Question 4:

The 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation is a unique opportunity for federal institutions to contribute to the development of official-language minority communities and to promote official languages.

Will your institution contribute to the 150th anniversary of Confederation?

  • If so, please describe the activities planned.
  • Please identify any processes that your institution undertook in order to comply with the obligations set out in Part VII of the Act (for example, consultations, impact analysis, use of specific official languages clauses, forming partnerships).
  • Please identify the expected results.

Answer:

Annotated Language Laws of Canada: Constitutional, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Laws

In 1998, the federal government organized a national symposium on Canada's official languages to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 1988 Official Languages Act and the 20th anniversary of the linguistic provisions of the Criminal Code, especially Part XVII dealing with the language of the accused. At that time, the Department of Justice prepared and published the first edition of Annotated Language Laws of Canada: Constitutional, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Laws, a compendium of 390 constitutional, federal, provincial and territorial laws relevant to the use of both official languages in government institutions and in commercial and private activities. The publication also referred to over 400 judicial rulings on language rights in Canada. Over the years, the Annotated Language Laws of Canada has become a necessary reference, not only for those in the legal profession, but also for many other professionals in the government and private sector.

Because the legislative context and jurisprudence are both constantly changing, in 2014 OLAD began the task of updating this rich source of information, intending to publish the second edition of Annotated Language Laws of Canada on CanLII (the most frequently used legal search engine in Canada), the Open Government Portal and Justipedia (Department of Justice's internal legal search engine) to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation and of the first constitutional language rights (section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867). The general public can now access it for free on CanLII and on the Open Government Portal, which will be regularly updated. The publication's official launch took place on November 29, 2017, at the Department of Justice in the presence of some 70 guests, including the Acting Commissioner of Official Languages, judges, law professors and government executives.

Between the gradual online publication on CanLII in June 2017 and the end of this fiscal year in March 2018, the French version of the publication had been consulted 1508 times and the English version 2053 times.  The publication contains over 1,000 statutes and close to 1,000 case law references related to those statutes – about three times more than the first edition in 1998.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Checklist

As a contribution to the federal government's initiatives as part of the Canada's 150th birthday, the Department of Justice made public the Charter Checklist – section 16 to 23, to facilitate access to justice. This is another positive measure taken by the Department to promote official languages in Canadian society.

This project is the result of the collaboration between the Department of Justice’s Human Rights Law Section and OLAD. Note that the Checklist was first published in 1991 and that it was presented live on the Department's intranet in 2003.

The Checklist is designed to help legal counsel and litigators who rarely deal with Charter issues in their practice. This Checklist provides a brief description of similar constitutional and statutory provisions found in other legal orders such as international law, discusses the object of each provision, proposes an interpretation of it, and describes court decisions that have interpreted it. Periodic updates will be needed when judgments dealing with the provisions covered by the Checklist are rendered so that each one reflects the current state of the law.

The Checklist’s success is attributable to the fact that it is a user-friendly tool that is easy to consult and able to focus the reader's attention on the main issues posed by the various provisions of the Charter. For the Department's employees and, more generally, the federal government who are interested in sections 16 to 23 of the Charter (official language rights in federal and New Brunswick institutions and official language minority education rights), this serves as a reliable and practical tool.

Since October 2017, members of the public, including those from OLMCs, have had free access to the revised contents of the Checklist on the Department's website.

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