Implementation of the Federal Government's Commitment
The implementation of the federal government's commitment takes on various forms based on specific mandates, goals and operational plans of each federal institution.
In all cases, however, concerned stakeholders within a given federal institution (whether at the level of decision-making committees, branches, or officers) must have a common understanding of their obligations as stated in Section 41 of the Official Languages Act. Thus, the institution could establish that any measure contributing to the development of official language minority communities and to the fostering of full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society constitutes a positive measure; it could, in particular, stress that it is by remaining attentive to the needs of minority communities and other key stakeholders, and by demonstrating leadership, that it is better capable of identifying positive measures.
This common understanding is also based on an overall consensus about the goals, implementation procedures and expected outcomes. Accordingly, areas of responsibility and corresponding accountability must be clearly identified.
The senior management of federal government institutions has a specific role in:
- establishing implementation mechanisms for Section 41 of the Act
- defining strategic directions
- ensuring that employees are well aware of the federal government's commitment and obligations as stated in Section 41 of the Act
- making employees aware of the needs of official language minority communities, and of the requirements for promoting linguistic duality
- establishing efficient result-based evaluation mechanisms
- ensuring that the institution's procedures are documented
- ensuring the consistency of the institution's management framework with the Management Framework for the Official Languages Program (2005)
Furthermore, employees working in the areas of strategic planning, development and implementation of policies and programs, communications, performance measurement, and evaluation of results are responsible for:
- determining whether the federal institution's policies and programs have impacts on the development of official language minority communities and the promotion of linguistic duality, from the initial development of policies through to their implementation, including the devolution of services
- consulting affected publics as required, especially representatives of official language minority communities, particularly in connection with the development or implementation of policies and programs
- being able to describe the federal institution's actions, and to demonstrate that it has taken into consideration the needs of these communities or the requirements of the promotion of linguistic duality
- once it has been determined that impacts exist:
- planning anticipated activities accordingly
- preparing results evaluation mechanisms
- presenting expected results
Key Questions to Facilitate the Decision Making
Section 41 of the Act applies to the entire cycle of activities of federal government institutions, whether it be during the strategic planning, development, implementation, evaluation or accountability phases of policies and programs. It must be remembered that institutions are not absolved of their obligations when the initiative involves a third party.
Throughout these activities, institutions should ask themselves certain key questions when making decisions such as adopting or reviewing a policy, creating or abolishing a program, or establishing or eliminating a service point. The following questions could be included. Of course, questions must be adapted to each situation and their sequence may vary.
Planning and Development
- At first sight, what impacts could the initiative have on official language minority communities, and on fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society?
- What research activities could be undertaken to validate this preliminary assessment of impacts?
- If applicable, what actions could be taken to consult official language minority communities, and organizations that represent them, or key stakeholders involved in the promotion of official languages? Who could be consulted and how?
- How does the initiative achieve the results of the research and consultations that have been undertaken?
- Once it has been established that an initiative could have impacts on the development of minority communities or on the promotion of linguistic duality, do the implementation principles and procedures take this into account?
- If it has been established that the initiative could have a negative impact on the development of minority communities or on the promotion of linguistic duality, and if the decision to take this initiative is maintained, which measures are planned to counteract any identified disadvantages?
- Where the initiative contributes, one way or another, to the development of minority communities or the promotion of linguistic duality, have the expected results and performance measurement indicators been identified and are they consistent with those stated in the Management Framework for the Official Languages Program?
- Are the selected approaches well described and documented?
- Does the initiative ensure that federal obligations regarding the development of official language minority communities and the promotion of linguistic duality are taken into account during the whole process of its implementation (for example, by maintaining contact with the representatives of minority communities)?
- Is the initiative likely to involve a third party (i.e., non government organizations, private sector, other federal departments and agencies – both at the national or regional level – or other levels of government)?
In the affirmative, and according to the instrument that ties the institution to the third party (memorandum of understanding, service contract, grants, contributions, federal-provincial/territorial agreements), what actions are taken to ensure the third party's commitment to foster the development of minority communities and the promotion of linguistic duality? (Actions targeted here are over and above those that must be taken towards third parties that act “on behalf” of the institution, in which case Section 25 of the Act, and government policies related to federal service delivery by third parties, apply.)
- What are the immediate, intermediate and final results obtained concerning the implementation of the federal commitment towards the development of official language minority communities and the promotion of linguistic duality?
- Does the evaluation reveal that adjustments are necessary?
- Are existing mechanisms concerning the measurement of results and
- Do the strategies and communication plans take into account the official language minority community public?
- What communication tools are used to communicate with official language minority communities? Among others, are existing media in the language of the minority being used? (Actions targeted here are over and above those that must be taken under Sections 11 and 30 of the Act – the first one concerns the publication of notices and advertisements, and the second, communications with the public in both official languages –, and of policies related to the implementation of these provisions.)
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