Formative Evaluation of Industry Canada's Action Plan 2004-008 (Section 41) and the Economic Development of Official Language Minority Communities (EDOLMC)
5.0 Evaluation Findings
The evaluation results in this section are presented in the order of the evaluation questions. For each evaluation question, we examine the key IC program components pertaining to official languages, namely:
- Outreach, communication and counselling activities for OLMCs (EDOLMC and Action Plan 2004–2008).
- Internal awareness activities (Action Plan 2004–2008).
- Francommunautés virtuelles (EDOLMC and Action Plan 2004–2008).
- Tele-Training and Tele-Learning (EDOLMC).
- Youth Internship Program (EDOLMC).
- Web sites and other IC programs (Action Plan 2004–2008).
This section answers the following evaluation questions:
- To what extent are the initiatives (including their activities, programs and services) relevant and appropriate?
- To what extent do the initiatives (including their activities, programs and services) meet the needs of the stakeholders?
- What changes do you propose to improve the initiatives?
5.1.1 Compatibility with Government Priorities
IC and government priorities
Most of the stakeholders consulted within the Department feel that both the Action Plan 2004–2008 and EDOLMC are compatible with governmental and departmental priorities. First, the Action Plan 2004–2008 directly meets the requirements of Section 41, which requires the designated departments to consult OLMCs and develop an action plan. It is also particularly compatible with IC's sustainable communities strategic priority.
Economic development is both a governmental and departmental priority, and EDOLMC activities stem directly from the federal Action Plan for Official Languages with respect to OLMC economic development. EDOLMC activities pertaining to technology and succession planning are particularly important economic development levers.
However, some degree of uncertainty exists within the Department with respect to the new governmental priorities and, consequently, those of the Department. The new government's position on renewing the federal Action Plan after 2008 has yet to be announced; the future of ministers' and deputy ministers' official languages committees hangs in the balance.
Moreover, Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Official Languages Act (Promotion of English and French), which came into effect November 24, 2005, has resulted in changes to the official languages obligations of federal institutions. Most notably, federal institutions are now responsible for putting in place positive measures to implement their commitment to enhancing the vitality of English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and supporting their development. Moreover, federal institutions that fail to meet their obligations under Part VII of the Official Languages ActFootnote 24 leave themselves open to lawsuits before the Federal Court.Footnote 25
The tangible impact of these legal changes on IC has yet to be established. However, we have noted that the Department is currently meeting the requirements set out in section 17 of the official languages accountability and co-ordination framework in the Action Plan for Official Languages (2003). IC is already putting in place activities to:
- Raise employee awareness of community needs.
- Determine if its policies and programs are having an effect on linguistic duality and community development.
- Consult the clients in question.
- Be able to describe the steps taken.
- Submit results and develop results evaluation mechanisms.Footnote 26
Potential for overlapping
In general, consulted departmental and RDA stakeholders do not feel that IC activities as part of its Action Plan 2004–2008 or the EDOLMC overlap the activities of other departments or organizations. First of all, it was emphasized that IC offers few programs directed specifically at OLMCs, which reduced the chances of overlapping.
With respect to EDOLMC program components, FedNor has its own Northern Ontario internship program, management of which was turned over to the IC regional office. FedNor works in partnership with the IC regional office to implement its Internship Program and those of the Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Projects to ensure a co-ordinated approach.
It might initially appear that there is some overlap between the Youth Internship Program and the Internship Program run by Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).Footnote 27 However, the EDOLMC program is aimed at a more targeted clientele, namely young graduates (having completed their studies less than three years previously), and provides internships in the minority language.
Memoranda of Understanding ensure that there is no overlap between IC and RDA activities. However, RDA mandates and areas of activity and those of IC regional advisors/co-ordinators seem to generate confusion among OLMC representatives who participated in the discussion groups. Some participants tend to confuse activities stemming from IC's mandate with those of the RDAs.
Some departmental stakeholders expressed doubts about the relevance of the CommunAction.ca Web site. The site was designed in 2003 to provide OLMCs with information on IC and RDA programs and services. However, it is little known or used (according to OLMC representatives), and it duplicates information already available on similar sites, such as the Canadian Heritage site on official languages. Some participants suggested creating a site shared by all designated departments that would make all the information for OLMC use available in one spot.Footnote 28 This idea was part of the initial project, but so far, informal discussions with other departments have failed to yield concrete results. It should be noted, however, that the IC Achievement Report 2004–2005 shows a clear increase in the number of visitors to the site, which rose from 3,000 in 2004 to 8,076 in 2005.Footnote 29 However, it is impossible to determine how many of those visitors were OLMC members.
Similarly, it has been suggested that the OLMC consultations required of the designated departments be consolidated to eliminate work duplication, reduce the impact on the communities, and promote the integration of government response to the needs expressed by the communities. It should be noted, however, that the RDAs already take part in IC's annual consultations.top of page
5.1.2 Compatibility with OLMC Needs
The EDOLMC components (regional advisors, Francommunautés virtuelles, pilot projects and Youth Internship) are all generally considered relevant by OLMC representatives who took part in the discussion groups. The Youth Internship Program in particular meets the communities' need to groom the next generation of workers in the minority language. For example, the internships offered through the Chambre économique de l'Ontario help to ensure succession planning by enabling young Franco-Ontarians to gain experience in business management and the integration of information and communications technologies. Overall, the internships provide relevant experiences for young people and enable them to build networks in their own language community. According to representatives of the organizations consulted, without these internships, most interns would have been forced to seek work experience in the majority language or move to major urban centres to find work in their own language.
The Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Projects are seen as having a narrower focus, as they are primarily known by educational institutions. However, it should be noted that the pilot projects were only recently implemented and that their outreach to OLMCs likely has yet to make itself felt. It is also possible that OLMC members are not aware of this program's role in some of the tele-learning and tele-training initiatives in their community, as it was never publicized by the RDAs owing to its status as a one-time pilot initiative.
Francommunautés virtuelles, together with the Community Access Program, was most often cited by discussion group participants as being helpful to the OLMCs. However, some IC representatives have expressed doubts about whether there is still a need for this program, which was launched in 1998. Others feel the program has evolved over time to meet changing needs and is still doing so. Early on, cultural/associative projects were primarily needed, while today, the economic projects that are needed are more in line with IC's mandate. Consultations with regional advisors/co-ordinators and RDA representatives have shown that most of the organizations that received support from the program to build Web sites and portals are now faced with having to maintain them without government financial support. In response to this challenge, Francommunautés virtuelles covers only 50% of project expenses and asks the organizations to submit a financial plan and a strategy for maintaining the Web site or portal. This criterion ensures the diversification of funding sources.
With respect to general IC programs, most respondents expressed the observations that follow. First, most stakeholders consulted are familiar with the Community Access Program and consider it relevant; however, the uncertainty as to its renewal is creating concern and anxiety in the communities. Also, broadband services are still a necessity in some rural and remote communities that are not yet connected to the Internet.
Some discussion groups questioned the relevance of the Computers for Schools Program. The obsolete equipment provided and problems associated with upgrading it are some of the factors that explain the program's inadequacy. Other OLMC representatives, particularly those from Sudbury (Ontario) and in Quebec, felt the program was still making a vital contribution.
Lastly, a number of program and service components are unknown or poorly known. This is true of the Language Industry Program and the CommunAction.ca Web site, which has never been the subject of a promotional campaign. However, these services are more recent than the programs discussed previously.
5.1.3 Unmet Needs/Suggested Changes
A number of OLMC representatives expressed the general opinion that IC programs are not sufficiently tailored to the needs of community groups. A number of representatives felt that IC was not a real presence in their community. Several would like to see more flexible funding mechanisms and greater awareness and understanding on the part of public servants with respect to the situations of official language minority communities.
Community needs that remain unmet, as expressed by discussion groups participants and representatives of national agencies (the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne (FCFA), Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), Community Table and the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité (RDÉE) Canada), centre on the following areas:
- Labour shortages and the exodus of young people from rural areas. A number of discussion groups expressed the need to promote the benefits of life in these communities. "We need social marketing."
- Greater recognition on the part of IC of the economic role of community organizations. "There has to be a broader definition or notion of economic development—one that would include the concept of a social economy."
- Better support for new arrivals, particularly with respect to learning the two official languages.
- Promotion of cultural tourism.
- Improved support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Easier access to IC programs for OLMC community organizations.
According to RDÉE Canada, IC's economic development strategy for the communities is limited to putting information and consultation services in place; these "cannot replace a genuine economic development strategy within that Department", and the Department should establish a synergistic partnership with the RDÉEs.Footnote 30 They constitute a Canada-wide network dedicated to optimizing the economic potential of Francophone and Acadian communities by providing a variety of services to support the creation of sustainable enterprises and employment. RDÉE Canada brings together representatives from the business world and economic development organizations in every province and territory outside Quebec.Footnote 31
The idea of greater community group involvement in the IC program and project planning processes has also been recommended by the Quebec Community Table, which works with the 11 Community Economic Development and Employability Committees (CEDECs). These are regional committees set up in Quebec by the National Human Resources Development Committee for the English Linguistic Minority Community. The CEDECs are comprised of volunteers and provide a link between the National Committee, the Community Table, and members of Quebec's Anglophone community. Their mandate is to promote and co-ordinate action in their communities by organizing mobilization events and capacity-building activities within their communities.Footnote 32 It should be noted, however, that Community Table representatives have recognized the substantial benefits of the creation of a full-time regional advisor position and visits by this advisor to all the CEDECs.
The FCFA has suggested creating a joint committee with IC to ensure better information sharing, which would improve IC programs and better meet OLMC needs.
These concerns have resonated with many of the IC representatives consulted. They also felt that IC programs are aimed more at large businesses and are therefore poorly tailored to the needs of OLMC small enterprises and community organizations. They also noted that IC's definition of economic development could be broadened to include the notion of a social economy: a number of community organizations create jobs, even if their purpose is not strictly economic.
In general, IC delivers very few programs aimed specifically at OLMCs, and all the stakeholders consulted agree that programs intended for Canadian communities as a whole are poorly adapted to the specific economic development needs of OLMCs.
Two stakeholders suggested that the Department create a program for OLMCs similar to that for Aboriginal communities (Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy).
Lastly, a number of respondents pointed out the need to address shortcomings in services in Eastern, Central and Southern Ontario caused by the lack of RDAs responsible for those areas. According to the respondents, Northern Ontario is generally well served by FedNor. The rest of the province falls within the purview of the regional IC office in Toronto. Existing program components and service delivery mechanisms are not tailored to current needs, particularly those of immigrants.top of page
This section answers the following evaluation questions:
- To what extent are development and implementation of the initiatives satisfactory? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Areas for improvement? Suggested changes?
- To what extent is the co-ordination of initiatives satisfactory? How could the decision-making structures be improved?
5.2.1 Co-ordination of Initiatives
A national co-ordination team has been set up to oversee the implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act at IC. The team, which reports to the Director General, Operations and Small Business Financing Branch, co-ordinates activities aimed at OLMCs and provides a link between Department managers, other federal departments and national OLMC representatives.Footnote 33 In addition to maintaining the CommunAction.ca and ProAction41 sites, the team identifies unmet needs and approves one-time projects that meet them and that could benefit from funding by the Interdepartmental Partnership with the Official Language Communities (IPOLC). The national co-ordination team and regional advisors and co-ordinators hold monthly conference calls and meet in person at least once a year.
The work of the national co-ordination team was identified as one of the strengths of the implementation of IC official language initiatives. The vision, leadership, commitment and support provided by the co-ordination team are valued by the regional advisors/co-ordinators. The consultations with OLMC carried out in recent years are perceived as having led to a better understanding of the work of officers in the regions and better equipping them to perform their functions with OLMC representatives.
The regional advisors/co-ordinators have nonetheless identified two areas where they need more support from the national co-ordination team. First, they are still waiting for promotional tools and additional information on existing IC programs and services to support their counselling and information work with the OLMCs. This need has been recognized by the national co-ordination team: at the annual meeting of regional advisors and co-ordinators and IC managers in February 2006, a workshop focussed on the specific identification of their internal and external communication support needs. A strategy was developed and will be implemented during the 2006–2007 fiscal year.
A number of regional advisors/co-ordinators also said they needed to be better equipped with respect to ongoing monitoring of their achievements to make it easier for them to gauge the impact of their activities on their target clientele.
5.2.2 Initiative Implementation and Delivery Structure
Regional co-ordinators and advisors are responsible for implementing Section 41 in their respective regions. At the regional level, they co-ordinate initiatives aimed at OLMCs and provide a link with IC managers and program officers in their region. They also liaise with the RDAs. The role of full-time regional advisors is to provide information for OLMCs and IC managers on the Department's responsibilities with respect to official languages and IC programs and services likely to affect OLMCs.Footnote 34
Outreach, communication and counselling for OLMCs
EDOLMC activities generally started off very gradually and were only implemented recently, in spite of the 2003 announcement of the initiative. This slow start is attributed to the time required to put in place the structures needed to implement the activities (ie, hiring full-time advisors in the regions and developing co-operation agreements with the RDAs) and to the lack of resources to fulfill the "counselling" aspect of their mandate, which requires more energy that the "information" function. In general, advisors were able to carry out their activities steadily over the past year. Also, the midterm report on the implementation of the federal government's Action Plan for Official Languages made public in 2005 concluded that the structures required for implementation were now in place and that it was "well under way and should pick up speed from now on."Footnote 35
It was universally acknowledged that the network of advisors and co-ordinators was an essential and necessary step to ensuring the development of a network that would meet OLMC needs. It was noted, however, that knowledge levels varied from province to province and that economic development needs therefore vary greatly from region to region. For example, Anglophones in more remote areas of the Lower North Shore often depend on the services of other departments such as Canadian Heritage, Fisheries and Oceans and Health Canada. Advisors and co-ordinators play a key role in meeting OLMC needs, but they require more flexible funding tools and a wider array of programs and services. Advisors and co-ordinators would like to be able to distribute venture capital-type funding, for example, to help individuals from minority communities start businesses.
Role of RDAs
The IC representatives consulted felt the role assigned to RDAs in implementing EDOLMC program components was effective. Similarly, relations between IC and the RDAs, while not always clearly understood by OLMC representatives (particularly in Quebec), did not seem to present any major problem. The two organizations have signed memoranda of understanding to divide up the roles.
It should be noted that in British Columbia, one person fulfills the roles of both regional advisor and WD representative. This dual role is a good way to ensure effective communication between IC and the RDA, but it also involves the risk of creating confusion among OLMCs concerning the respective roles of each institution and the attribution of results to one or the other.
Lastly, OLMC representatives in the Sudbury area felt that FedNor officers were unfamiliar with IC programs and therefore did not consistently promote them. It should be noted that FedNor has its own range of programs and does not offer IC programs, which may explain why the officers rarely promote them. Moreover, FedNor's mandate does not include the explicit function of promoting IC programs, and the organization does not receive any budget envelope to enable it to do such promotional work.
In spite of these challenges, a number of IC and RDA respondents pointed out that FedNor has a wider range of programs and services to offer the communities and greater presence in the regions: since they are already responsible for implementing two EDOLMC programs, they might be better positioned to receive EDOLMC funds should the federal Action Plan be renewed.
The Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Project Program was generally implemented as planned. The educational institutions approached by the RDAs to develop these pilot projects rose to the challenge and generally had little difficulty finding partners and additional sources of funding.
Quebec is the exception. The implementation of the program was slower in Quebec, and the eligibility criteria had to be amended to make allowances for the province's jurisdiction over education. Originally, the program was intended to provide educational institutions across the country with funds for the pilot projects. However, in Quebec, these establishments were not allowed to receive funds from the federal government. The terms of the program therefore had to be altered to enable community organizations to be approached to implement the projects. Moreover, in Western Canada, the program is managed by WD. This becomes a problem when it comes to projects covering the Yukon and the territories, as WD is confined to provinces in Western Canada.
Program participants, RDA representatives and regional advisors/co-ordinators are concerned over the uncertainty of the funding allocated for this component. Some pilot projects were designed in several phases, in the expectation that subsequent phases would be carried out when IC funding was renewed.
Lastly, IC representatives noted that the funding allocated for the pilot projects and Youth Internship Program is identical in each of the five regions (Pacific, Prairie, Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic) regardless of the proportion of OLMC members in each of the regions. It should be noted, however, that this arrangement for the two EDOLMC programs was part of the budget parameters set out in the federal Action Plan for Official Languages.
Youth Internship Program
According to interviews conducted with organizations that received funds under the program, Youth Internship Program implementation varies widely from region to region. Each region was allocated an annual budget of $200,000 to fund internships. These amounts were allocated differently by region. The internships varied in length from a few months to two years. According to one interviewed participant, it takes close to two years to integrate an intern into organization operations, and internships of shorter duration are not as beneficial.
Given the program's limited budget and uncertain future, the RDAs did not promote it to all potential candidates for fear that such promotion would result in excessive demand. Instead, the RDAs targeted specific organizations. To date, 22 internships have been offered in the provinces of Western Canada. In Ontario, the Chambre économique de l'Ontario receives funding to administer the program and oversee the placement of 14 young Franco-Ontarian graduates in management or business management internships. In Quebec, Montreal's Youth Employment Services (YES) has received the same mandate to ensure placement of 24 Quebec Anglophone interns in companies and organizations whose language of work is English. According to the program database, no internships have been arranged to date in the Atlantic provinces.
Under the federal government's Action Plan, a total of $13 million in additional funding was allocated to the Francommunautés virtuelles Program with a view to helping the program respond to substantial demand for financial support. In the preceding years, the program had only been able to fund 20% of the project proposals received.
The program therefore has a new budget to provide approximately 200 non-refundable contributions over five years, which represent 50% of eligible costs, according to needs expressed by the communities. The contributions are capped at $250,000 for national projects and $75,000 for local or regional projects. Three competitions are expected to be held over the program's five-year run.Footnote 36
The current funding cycle (competition announcement, project submissions, evaluation, reaching of agreements and project execution) anticipates a 9-month duration for regional projects and a 14-month duration for national projects. A complete funding cycle therefore takes 20 months. The most recent cycle ran from 2003 to 2005. A new round of funding was approved in spring 2006 for another 20-month cycle.
The program is also changing its funding criteria to focus on more economically oriented programs with a view to turning technical tools over to the communities (eg, for networking and service delivery activities) as opposed to projects with the cultural or identity affirmation themes that characterized the program in its early stages. The decision to make the shift was taken in consultation with the National Francommunautés virtuelles Consultative Committee, which is composed of IC and OLMC representatives from every province and territory. Since the program's inception, the committee has helped to define and review the program's orientations on the basis of OLMC needs and departmental objectives. According to stakeholders consulted within the Department, it would be appropriate to place greater emphasis on economic development rather than Francophone content. This dovetails with the Department's sustainable communities strategic objective.Footnote 37
The challenges reported by OLMC representatives include the complexity of the applications and the competitive nature of the submission process, which makes it impossible to obtain assistance from the program to rework and resubmit rejected applications within the same funding cycle (such applications are eligible for the next round, however). This difficulty is attributed to the high number of applications in relation to the funds available.
Representatives of Quebec's Anglophone communities also feel it is unfair that the program is not offered to Anglophone Quebec. The purpose of the Francommunautés virtuelles Program, however, is to close the reported gap between Francophone and Acadian OLMCs and Anglophone communities when it comes to participation in the knowledge-based economy. The program does accept applications from Quebec organizations and applications submitted in English, provided their purpose is to develop French-language content or applications for the benefit of Canada's Francophone and Acadian communities.
The additional funds allocated to the program under the Action Plan 2004–2008 have enabled the Francommunautés virtuelles Program to respond to a greater number of projects or proposals from OLMCs; this has raised the project funding rate from 20% to approximately 50%, while actively contributing to the sustainable economic and community development of the groups in question.
The spinoffs of the Francommunautés virtuelles Program will be explored in greater detail during a formative evaluation scheduled for 2006–2007.
In the past four years, a number of activities have been implemented to raise awareness among IC managers with respect to the Department's official languages responsibilities and OLMC needs the programs are expected to address.
In 2002, the national co-ordination team launched the first component of a major awareness campaign. About 15 presentations were made to the management committees of key sectors and branches. The ProAction41 site was created to meet information needs identified during the presentations. The second component of the campaign was another series of more closely targeted presentations. A co-ordinator, whose role would be to support the national co-ordination team, was subsequently designated for each of the 15 programs and services identified as priorities in the IC Action Plan 2004–2008. The co-ordinators were expected to take part in internal awareness activities and circulate relevant information. Their role was to help their respective managers incorporate IC official languages responsibilities and OLMC priorities into the program planning, development and implementation process.Footnote 38 The designated co-ordinators must meet periodically to report on the internal awareness function. According to some IC representatives, these meetings should take place more often if they are to be genuinely effective.
Also with a view to supporting ongoing and ad hoc awareness among the Department's managers, officers and senior managers, the Action Plan 2004–2008 envisioned the development of a "Section 41 Lens", ie, an administrative tool that would make it easier to incorporate OLMC priorities into program and service planning, development and implementation.Footnote 39 The Department of Canadian Heritage asked the federal institutions designated for Section 41 implementation to use a tool like the Section 41 Lens to identify barriers to OLMC access to federal services. A draft of the Lens was developed and submitted to the Department's senior managementFootnote 40 but was not adopted. The document remains in limbo.
Over the last two years, IC has also funded the creation of a database on groups taking part in OLMC development. As a result, 938 groups were identified, including 125 from Quebec's minority Anglophone community and 813 from Canada's Francophone and Acadian minority communities.Footnote 41 IC also funded a study to quantify IC and RDA investments in the OLMCs. A CD-ROM with a map of the OLMCs is also being produced. These tools are intended to help managers better tailor their service offers to OLMCs.
Lastly, the regional advisors/co-ordinators contribute to internal awareness by establishing ties with and making presentations to managers in the regions.
Other IC programs and services
As previously mentioned, both IC and OLMC representatives agree that the range of programs and services provided by IC for OLMCs is extremely limited. Moreover, certain OLMC representatives in some provinces have complained about the inability of some senior IC manager and officers to communicate in French. A number of them claimed to have been forced to communicate in English (orally and in writing) to make themselves understood. In many cases, they must assume the costs of having their correspondence translated. According to IC representatives, this difficulty is perhaps attributable to the fact that a number of IC services are delivered in partnership with other organizations which are not always able to communicate in French.
A number of OLMC representatives have also complained about the slowness of the funding application process, which they described as "burdensome". Some representatives suggested a mechanism to co-manage IC programs and services with the communities.top of page
5.2.3 Performance Measurement
Current performance measurement mechanisms are fairly rudimentary. The regional advisors/co-ordinators submit annual reports to the national co-ordination team detailing their various activity components. These reports are used to draft the annual report on the Department's official languages achievements. The annual report is prepared by the national co-ordination team and makes no distinction between EDOLMC and Action Plan 2004–2008 components. The reports submitted by the regional advisors/co-ordinators are based on a template provided by headquarters and present achievements in five categories (internal awareness, consultations, communications, co-ordination, and program and service delivery) with respect to expected results, activities, outputs, and expenses incurred. The designated co-ordinators in each IC program are also required to submit an annual report using the same template. However, only partial data is collected about IC programs because they rarely or never track the official language of their clientele.
The information that emerges from this exercise is therefore limited to a list of investments in each activity category, the number of projects funded, and a list of activities carried out over the course of the year. The information collected does not show to what extent these activities reached their target clients and/or met the economic development needs of OLMCs. These shortcomings were pointed out in the 2004 evaluation and by Canadian Heritage in its review of IC's achievements.
The RDAs in charge of administering EDOLMC programs are also required to submit annual reports. These reports contain a statement of expenses and a list of clients served by the programs, along with a short description of the approved projects.
Lastly, the Francommunautés virtuelles program also produces an annual report that is likewise limited to statistics on the number of approved projects and funds spent.
As previously mentioned, some regional advisors/co-ordinators expressed the need for better tools to report on the effects of their activities on their target clientele. In addition, a number of IC representatives would like to see managers required to report and produce more specific data showing how the OLMCs were served by their program. The data should include the official language of the individual clients or, if companies or organizations are being served, whether they are designated as Anglophone or Francophone.
FedNor has developed such criteria and provided specific data on the clientele served by its programs.
5.2.4 Changes Proposed by Respondents
In light of the preceding results, here is a summary of the changes proposed by respondents with respect to the development and implementation of these initiatives:
- That amounts for pilot projects and the Youth Internship Program be proportional to the official language minority population and the institutions/facilities implementing them in each region.Footnote 42
- That advisors/co-ordinators in the regions have a larger discretionary budget and a flexible budget envelope (grants and/or contributions) to approve small ad hoc projects (studies, meetings, forums).
- That advisors/co-ordinators in the regions obtain better promotional tools and information on IC programs from the national co-ordination team.
- That the number of regional advisors be increased to ensure appropriate counselling services.
- That IC develop a more detailed OLMC economic development strategy and couple it with programs that are better adapted to the situation of OLMCs. The idea is to broaden the definition of economic development to include the notion of the social economy.
- That IC consider joint co-management of its programs and services with OLMCs to simplify funding processes and ensure that programs and services are properly tailored.
- That IC take steps to ensure its managers in the regions are able to provide OLMC members with services in both official languages.
- That IC make effective use of the RDÉEs and CEDECs as service or information distribution points at the community level.
- That a more elaborate performance measurement strategy be implemented to better document the effects of the activities of regional advisors/co-ordinators and that IC managers be made more responsible for providing data on the OLMC clients served.
- That longer internships (1 to 2 years) be funded in Ontario under the Youth Internship Program.
- That the Section 41 Lens document be adopted by IC managers.
- That the IC program application processes be simplified.
- That IC officers continue to work with OLMCs to better identify needs and priorities.
This section answers the following evaluation questions:
- To what extent are the initiatives achieving or are in the process of achieving the expected results?
- What factors furthered and/or slowed the implementation/progress of the initiatives?
- To what extent did the initiative reach its intended clientele? Raise awareness?
5.3.1 Results Achieved/Target Clientele Reached
Given the fact that this is a formative evaluation and that the initiatives examined were implemented in the past two years, we will be examining to what extent the initiatives have achieved or are in the process of achieving their immediate results.
Action Plan 2004–2008
The IC Action Plan 2004–2008 involves three direct results:
- A better understanding of the requirements of Section 41 among the managers and senior managers of priority programs.
- Stronger working relations between organizations representing OLMCs and the Department.
- A better understanding of the Department's programs and services on the part of OLMCs.
Views are divided among those consulted for this study with respect to the success of efforts to raise awareness among IC managers, particularly senior managers. While we recognize that much remains to be done in this area, we have observed some degree of improvement in program managers' response to the information provided in recent years. Although they could not determine whether IC managers are more aware, Canadian Heritage representatives interviewed felt there had been real improvements in the Department's communications.
It is evident that OLMC and national agency representatives lack familiarity with IC programs and services. On average, discussion group participants were familiar with only one or two programs; the most widely known were Francommunautés virtuelles and the Community Access Program. Lesser-known programs included Broadband Services and Computers for Schools. The least known programs or services were the Language Industry Program and the CommunAction.ca Website, which only two or three participants identified.
This result is partially attributable to the fact that participants have difficulty distinguishing among the various departments and levels of government. The regional advisors/co-ordinators also explain this by the fact that these programs often have uncertain or limited life spans and resources, meaning that advisors/co-ordinators and program managers are often hesitant to promote them too aggressively, for fear of building expectations they may not subsequently be able to meet.
IC's Achievement Report 2004–2005 describes a number of steps taken by the programs to better reach OLMC clienteles. For example, in its contribution agreements with program beneficiaries, the Student Connections Program emphasized the need for a proactive approach toward OLMCs. A language clause was also included in the Broadband Services contribution agreement regarding services in French in areas where there was significant demand.Footnote 43 It is estimated that 115 OLMCs will be receiving broadband services following program investments in 2004–2005. The report also indicates that the Computers for Schools Program delivered over 3,563 computers to Anglophone and Francophone minorities in that same year.Footnote 44 The Community Access Program invested $1,207,961 to enhance the network encompassing 254 Francophone centres outside Quebec and 16 Anglophone centres in Quebec.Footnote 45
In spite of these efforts, discussion group participants generally saw no appreciable difference in IC's contribution to their community in the past two years.
In 2004–2005, the national co-ordination team mandated an outside consultant to conduct a study to pinpoint as accurately as possible the financial expenditures of the Department and regional development agencies in OLMCs. The study covered the years 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 (2004–2005 was covered in an update produced in February 2006) and includes data for 26 IC programs. It examined fund expenditures in the communities on a geographic basis and funds provided for organizations dedicated to enhancing community vitality. The study tallied IC's investments at $21.6 million for 2002–2003 and $37.5 million in 2003–2004 and found that the funds were generally allocated to the linguistic communities (or communities of interest) proportionately to the communities' demographic weight. However, the report noted that if FedNor and Francommunautés virtuelles were eliminated, IC programs reached OLMCs solely on a geographical basis and not as communities of interest.Footnote 46 It is nonetheless clear that infrastructure programs help OLMCs just as much as majority communities and likely affect them as significantly. Broadband Service, for instance, seems to have reached all OLMCs, with the exception of some remote areas. Lastly, according to the Bisson report, the Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) is the only other program that substantially reaches OLMCs as communities of interest, although its catchment area could not be determined owing to a lack of data.Footnote 47 It should be noted, however, that while the Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs) set up in each of the Western provinces could also assume this role, their potential for doing so was not measured in this evaluation.
In addition, following the above mentioned study, a series of interviews was conducted with 16 project managers regarding the impact of IC and RDA investments in small and large localities across Canada. This anecdotal study identified a number of tangible examples of the direct and immediate impact of IC and RDA activities on OLMC development. The analysis enabled its authors to draw a causal or at least influential link between the projects and the following results and aggregate indicators:
- Enhanced economic development in the communities.
- Strengthening of language industries.
- OLMC infrastructures enabling their members to live, learn and work in the community.
- Greater awareness among Canadians of the benefits of linguistic duality.Footnote 48
EDOLMC: Outreach, communications and counselling
The creation of full-time advisor positions in every region to provide outreach, communications and counselling services for OLMCs was intended to raise awareness among and inform OLMC members of the opportunities and benefits associated with IC programs that help them participate in the knowledge economy. By providing that information, it was hoped that the OLMCs would make greater use of the programs and information provided by the government.
As the previous section shows, the comments of OLMC representatives did not reveal any improvement in their knowledge of IC programs and services. However, the interviews also revealed that overall, the creation of full-time advisor positions in the regions was a distinct improvement because it increased IC's presence in the regions and improved the Department's understanding of OLMC needs. According to CEDEC and Community Table representatives, the creation of the full-time advisor's position in Quebec transformed the relationship between Anglophone community groups and IC and helped IC managers better understand the needs of these groups.
According to program managers, the regional advisors have kept OLMCs abreast of what IC can and cannot do for them.
The regional advisors themselves are aware that their outreach work with the communities is well under way but that their counselling functions are not fully operational. They define this component of their role as assisting OLMC members in their efforts to find funding to carry out projects. Given the limited opportunities provided by IC programs and the lack of a discretionary budget, they feel that in order to better perform this role, they need to be better informed about the programs of other departments and agencies. They also feel that increased human resources will be needed, as will promotional tools and information about existing programs. This component will also require working closely with RDAs.
EDOLMC: Youth Internship Program
The Youth Internship Program was created to help young Canadians aged 16 to 30 gain work experience and skills, improve their management and business practices (particularly in the fields of engineering, communications technology, business administration and research) and increase their opportunities to work in the language of their choice.
Interviews carried out with a sample of organizations that received funding to hire young interns demonstrated the program's positive impact on both the interns and the host organizations.
In Quebec and Ontario, interns not only gained relevant work experience, but a number of them (in Quebec, 18 of the 24 interns) were hired by their host organizations. This was an unexpected effect of the program, as this was not one of the objectives for internships. In other cases, besides providing interns with work experience in their language, the internships also raised their awareness of the fact that jobs in their official language minority community do exist; helped them build a network of contacts in the community; gave them a professional vocabulary in their own language; brought them out of the isolation in which some of them found themselves as members of a minority language group; enhanced their confidence as job seekers; and taught them new technical skills.
Unexpected results were also observed within host organizations, which increased their capacity to operate and provide services in the minority language, evaluate candidates for potential positions, and train the next generation of workers in the minority language, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship.
EDOLMC: Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Projects
The pilot projects were designed to promote partnership building, increase the availability of distance learning and training content and applications and demonstrate the feasibility of increasing access to leading edge technologies and services.
The interviews conducted with a sample of representatives of the institutions that carried out the pilot projects showed that, for the most part, the projects are in the process of achieving the expected results. The projects carried out all serve to address shortcomings in existing distance learning and training services in the various provinces. They primarily allow people living far from universities with programs in their official language to take distance learning courses. For example, Université Sainte-Anne (in Nova Scotia) is currently computerizing its advanced paramedic courses to enable French-speaking paramedics from across Canada, whatever their place of residence, to complete their professional training. The service is particularly valuable because paramedics' work schedules often prevent them from leaving home to take courses.
Similarly, the University of Alberta's Campus Saint Jean is currently integrating technology to provide Western Canada's Francophone population with greater access to distance education by making a series of French-language university courses available on-line. The Virtual Campus project run by Éducacentre (in British Columbia) is intended to do the same for college-level courses.
The program seems to have had the desired effect with respect to partnership building. All the projects involve partner participation, and some have even received contributions from other financial backers. For example, Université Sainte-Anne received assistance from Ottawa's La Cité collégiale, which shared its expertise on distance learning technology. Université Sainte-Anne can now develop its own distance learning courses without relying on outside experts, provide assistance for other institutions or generate revenue with its new expertise.
In addition, TFO-TVOntario received assistance from the Regroupement franco-ontarien de développement économique et d'employabilité (RDÉE Ontario), Collège d'Alfred, La Cité Collégiale and the Commission de formation de l'Est ontarien for its Destination Ontario français project.
Some 14 government and non-profit organizations contributed to Éducacentre's Virtual Campus project.
Lastly, the current pilot projects will likely generate an increase in the institutions' student population.
The potential effects of Quebec's Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Program (CEDTAP) are less obvious, as the project had to reposition itself following an erroneous evaluation of the needs and capacities of its intended clientele. The results will depend on the success of the efforts of the Réseau d'investissement social du Québec (RISQ) and its partners to stimulate interest on the part of Quebec's Anglophone entrepreneurs with respect to the proposed new social economy enterprise approach.
EDOLMC: Francommunautés virtuelles
The Francommunautés virtuelles Program is intended to increase Francophone e-content, Web applications and on-line services, information and communications technology skills and partnerships and networking among Francophones in Canada. In doing so, the hopes is that the program will increase Internet uptake and use, support and help create Francophone e-networks, and promote Internet use for sustainable economic and community development.
OLMCs are generally familiar with and appreciative of the program, which is known for its contributions to a number of growth-generating projects for the communities, such as the Francoboutique and the creation of a Francophone version of e-Bay. All stakeholders feel this program is still very much a necessity.
According to program representatives, to date, the program's impact on the Department and the communities has been positive. It has proved to be an effective lever for generating investments from other financial backers. The number and quality of applications submitted to the program have increased. The applicant organizations are better able to mobilize and work in partnership with other stakeholders in the OLMCs. The program has also provided some organizations with tools to help them obtain subsequent funding from other programs.
For example, in 2005, Université Sainte-Anne and the New Brunswick Community College Dieppe Campus launched a new program focussing on the management of non-profit organizations. The project was made possible through a financial contribution from IC's Francommunautés virtuelles program and Canadian Heritage's Canadian Culture Online Funding Programs. An effective partnership was built between Université Sainte-Anne, the New Brunswick Community College Dieppe Campus, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and the Société éducative de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard. The anticipated effects of the program are more effective Francophone and Acadian non-profit organizations.Footnote 49 One immediate effect was that the Université Sainte-Anne faculty taking part in the project developed new expertise in the field of e-training, which it was then able to share with the university's other faculties and organizations throughout the region.
It is too soon, however, to assess the impact of the program's new direction under the current Action Plan. The first competition that put into effect the new criteria emphasizing a new economic direction ended in spring 2006. Its theme was "Moving from access to adoption, innovation and integration within the economic sector using information and communications technology." A quick look at the projects submitted under the current competition shows the new direction is being reflected in the composition of the new applications.
5.3.2 Factors Hindering Implementation/Progress
Many OLMC members are still unfamiliar with most IC programs and services. On average, discussion group participants were only aware of one or two programs. In some cases, this can be explained by the recent appointment of some of the regional advisors. According to a number of respondents, another explanation was the sometimes extensive territory to be covered by regional advisors. This emphasizes the need to increase human resources in the regions to deal with this issue.
The lack of RDAs in the Territories and Ontario (FedNor being an economic development initiative) limits the service offer for OLMCs in those regions.
In addition, staff turnover at IC's regional offices seems to have halted some projects.
According to a number of stakeholders, IC seems to favour large-scale projects, making the programs difficult for smaller organizations to access. This is the case with Francommunautés virtuelles. While they felt it was valuable, some OLMC respondents added it was also difficult and demanding. Another concern was the program's competitive nature, which was felt by some to be a problem. These stakeholders favoured a co-operative process with the Department allowing applications to change until their adoption.
The federal election and new government also raised uncertainty as to the future of EDOLMC program components. Some projects involve potential subsequent phases and would need a second round of funding to continue. This is the case for the Éducacentre Virtual Campus Pilot Project in British Columbia.
Lastly, the selection of 15 programs for the implementation of departmental official languages responsibilities is limited and not always tailored to OLMC economic development needs, particularly owing to the limited resources of these programs and their uncertain future.
5.3.3 Factors Contributing to Implementation/Progress
The factors identified as having contributed to the implementation or progress of EDOLMC and Action Plan 2004–2008 initiatives are:
- Partnerships created to carry out Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Projects resulted in capacity building for the participating institutions, contributed to project longevity and ensured the distribution of project information and results.
- The leadership of the national co-ordination team and senior IC managers in some regions was instrumental in raising the visibility of the official languages issue within IC and in the initiation and development of an ongoing dialogue with the OLMCs.
- Consultations with OLMCs carried out by the regional co-ordinators in the past two years helped to raise IC's visibility and create a basis for dialogue. This approach has been identified by Canadian Heritage interviewees as a good practice and one of the strengths of IC's approach.
- Language training for IC employees and managers was a factor in raising official languages awareness among program managers.
- Combining the Pacific Region representative's roles as regional advisor and WD representative was an integrated service and information approach that OLMC members greatly valued.
- The creation of a consultative committee composed of IC and OLMC representatives from every province and territory for the Francommunautés virtuelles Program proved to be an excellent way to bring the program into line with both the Department's objectives and community needs. This formula gave program representatives an additional OLMC consultation mechanism that was more timely than the annual consultations carried out by the national IC co-ordinating team.
5.4 Lessons Learned
This section summarizes the lessons learned to date during the implementation of initiatives.
In Quebec, the implementation of the Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Projects made IC aware of the importance of involving and consulting the provinces when planning new programs or initiatives as a way of preventing jurisdiction conflicts and maximizing the provincial departments' potential contribution to activity funding. In this particular case, the way the program was implemented had to be changed, which delayed its launch.
The Community Economic Development Technical Assistance Project (CEDTAP) pilot project put in place by RISQ in Quebec has also demonstrated the importance of basing a new project on a sound demonstration of needs and the ability to carry out the project. In CEDTAP's case, changes had to be made mid-project because it had been based on the erroneous premise that there were Anglophone social economy enterprises that could benefit from the training provided by RISQ.
The RISQ project also illustrates the importance of consulting and involving key local groups in the needs identification process to ensure the necessary infrastructure exists to perpetuate the project—a necessary condition for project longevity.
A number of examples provided by OLMC representatives and Youth Internship clients demonstrate the importance of low turnover among RDA representatives and regional advisors/co-ordinators. This continuity prevents service interruptions and proper representation for projects within the RDAs and IC program administrations in the regions. It helps to establish a relationship of trust and sound communications channels, which foster information sharing and, consequently, project success.
The financial lever role played by the Tele-Learning and Tele-Training Pilot Projects can be a double-edged sword insofar as an increase in financial backers also means differing reporting requirements. This can prove problematic for participating institutions, who feel they are being punished for successfully obtaining funding. The Department should perhaps consider negotiating similar reporting requirements with other financial backers or simplifying its own requirements.
According to participants interviewed, in some cases it takes nearly two years to properly integrate an intern (under the Youth Internship Program) into corporate operations. The participants felt that shorter internships were not as beneficial.
One of the important keys to the future success of these initiatives is building and enhancing collaboration between federal and provincial departments. There are many governmental stakeholders and two major associative networks—one run by Canadian Heritage, the other by HRSDC. A number of respondents emphasized the importance of co-operation and cohesiveness.top of page
This section examines how cost-effective the initiatives have been and looks at measures that could be taken to boost their cost-effectiveness.
Most respondents felt that service delivery and co-ordination structures for both EDOLMC and Action Plan 2004–2008 activities were effective. Respondents could not imagine how the structures could be made more efficient and pointed out that since the allocated resources are limited, there is little room for waste. A need for more human resources in the regions was reported, however, to maximize efforts and better fulfill the mandate of the full-time regional advisors.
In the absence of a study of needs and numbers to quantify the demand for EDOLMC and Action Plan 2004–2008 services, it is difficult to determine whether existing services are meeting the demand. The sole exception is Francommunautés virtuelles, which is currently responding to 40% to 50% of applications; this is a clear improvement in its response rate, which had been only 20% prior to the EDOLMC envelope.
The Francommunautés virtuelles data also show that the program is an effective lever for multiplying funds invested in its projects. For each dollar provided by the program, $2.35 is invested by other financial backers. This means that the $9.5 million invested to date by Francommunautés virtuelles (excluding the competition that ended in Spring 2006) has generated $29.2 million in additional investments.
Potential alternatives to the current service delivery model were suggested during the consultations for this evaluation. In Newfoundland, a single-window pilot project is currently being tested (this is similar to the Bilingual Service Centres provided by the three levels of government in Manitoba), in partnership with the federal departments and agencies that also service OLMCs, such as Service Canada, Canadian Heritage, Fisheries and Oceans and ACOA. A single-window approach would be an effective way to channel relevant information on IC programs of interest to OLMCs. However, this option would not allow IC to conduct surveys of OLMCs to determine their economic development needs and priorities; the importance of maintaining an IC presence in each region was also emphasized as a means of maintaining the link with OLMCs. The comments of the Community Table and QCGN regarding the significant contribution of the IC's regional advisor in Quebec confirm this view.
National agency and OLMC representatives suggested the possibility that the outreach, information and counselling work could be done by other organizations already in the OLMC networks that have a sound understanding of economic development needs: these would include the CEDECs, CFDCs and RDÉEs. At the very least, we recommend that IC seek out more partnership opportunities with these organizations to improve activity planning and implementation.
Lastly, some respondents mentioned the possibility of RDAs taking over part of IC's current role as regards OLMC services, since the RDAs already have a broader range of programs in the regions and networks in the communities. One concern was raised: the lack of an RDA in Canada's northern territories.
25 However, complaints must first be heard by the Commissioner for Official Languages. Legal proceedings may be instituted once he has handed down his conclusions and recommendations or declined to investigate. (Return to reference 25)
27 The HRSDC Youth Employment Strategy provides funding for employers to help post-secondary graduates obtain career-related work opportunities in Canada to support their development of advanced skills, to help them make career-related links to the job market, and to assist them in becoming leaders in their field. The HRSDC Skills Link Program provides funding for community organizations to help young people aged 15 to 30 who are facing barriers to employment — such as single parents, Aboriginal youth, young persons with disabilities, recent immigrants, youth living in rural and remote areas and high school dropouts — develop the broad range of skills, knowledge and work experience they need to participate in the job market. http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/epb/yi/yep/newprog/yesprograms.shtml. (Return to reference 27)
40 Ronald Bisson et Associé.e.s. Development of a lens for Industry Canada initiatives related to the implementation of Section 41 of the Official Languages Act — Proposal for a Section 41 Lens — Draft for validation purposes. June 6, 2005. (Return to reference 40)
41 Ronald Bisson et Associé.e.s. Ébauche. Rapport descriptif de la base de données de tous les groupes participant au développement des communautés de langue officielle en situation minoritaire. February 28, 2005. (Return to reference 41)
42 This suggestion was contested by representatives of some RDAs who explained that the number of pilot projects and interns approved was not limited by a lack of candidates, but rather by the limited budget and duration of these initiatives. Since these initiatives were never promoted, it is impossible to determine actual demand for these services. (Return to reference 42)
46 Ronald Bisson et Associé.e.s. Rapport Final Ébauche 6, Recherche en vue de déterminer les dépenses d'Industrie Canada et des organismes de développement régional dans les communautés de langue officielle en situation minoritaire pour les années 2002–2003 et 2003–2004. March 9, 2005, p 5. (Return to reference 46)
48 Ronald Bisson et Associé.e.s. Faits saillants. Étude : Liens entre les investissements du ministère et des organismes de développement régional et les cartes géographiques. Synthèse finale. March 31, 2006. (Return to reference 48)
- Date modified: