Initiative in Support of Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Evaluation

4. Evaluation Findings

This section describes the main findings that arose from this evaluation. The information was grouped by the topics of relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency of the Initiative.

4.1. Relevance

The evaluation considered relevance of the Initiative with respect to the role of the federal government with regard to access to justice in both official languages, the alignment with federal priorities, and the ongoing need to the Initiative.

4.1.1. The Language Aspect of Access to Justice

The concept of “access to justice” contains several dimensions such as the one of official languages. The language considerations connected with judicial processes are of particular importance in Canada. First, section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines the principle of natural justice whereby everyone is entitled to a fair trial, which includes, among other things and as needed, the right to an interpreter. However, official bilingualism in Canada goes much further by giving the members of both official language communities the right, under certain circumstances, to judicial proceedings in the official language of their choice. As acknowledged by the Supreme Court of Canada in Beaulac, those rights are distinct from those established in section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms since they target other objectives, namely those for promoting Canada’s official languages and enhancing the vitality of official language communities.1

Justice-related rights associated with both official languages are largely focused on criminal law. The language provisions in the Criminal Code, the Official Languages Act and sections 16 to 20 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee the right to use French or English in criminal cases, consistently across the country.

In some provinces (New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba), constitutional rights to use French and English in civil cases have also been recognized. In addition, other provinces, including Ontario, have adopted legislation authorizing the use of French and English in civil proceedings.

As a result, from a language rights perspective, there is a national consistency with respect to criminal matters, but an inconsistent one in civil matters. Moreover, the federal government’s responsibility to respect language rights connected with judicial proceedings focuses first and foremost on criminal proceedings. It falls mostly to provincial governments to ensure respect for language rights connected with civil law areas, where those rights exist.2

4.1.2. Role of the Federal Government

The federal government has a role to play in the area of access to justice in both official languages. This role is predominantly defined by the official languages legal framework in place, and related case law, particularly the Beaulac case.

In Canada, the official languages legal framework includes the Constitution, Part XXVII of the Criminal Code (section 530 and 530.1), Part IV of the Official Languages Act as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This framework enunciates the linguistic obligations of the federal government. These obligations are intrinsically linked, among other things, to access to justice in both official languages, including court proceedings.

In the Beaulac case, the Supreme Court ruled that a person accused of a criminal offence has the choice to be judged in the official language of his/her choice, no matter the level of language skills nor the inconveniences caused to the court. Consequently, the federal government must ensure access to justice, in the criminal area, in both official languages.

4.1.3. Consistency with Federal Priorities

The Initiative is consistent with the priorities of the federal government. By the objectives that it targets and by its inclusion in the Roadmap, the Initiative supports and promotes bilingualism in Canada. In its Speech from the Throne of 2010, the federal government reiterated the importance of bilingualism and of the Roadmap that supports it:

“We are a bilingual country. Canada's two official languages are an integral part of our history and position us uniquely in the world. Building on the recognition that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada, and the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality, our Government will take steps to strengthen further Canada's Francophone identity. It will also continue to respect provincial jurisdiction and to restrict the use of the federal spending power.”3

In addition, the Initiative is consistent with the objectives of the Department of Justice. In the area of justice policies, laws and programs, the five core domains that are the Department of Justice Canada’s focus include access to justice.4 To that end, the Department undertakes a number of activities involving, among other things, legal aid, the Contraventions Act and the Initiative in Support of Access to Justice in Both Official Languages. This last activity, which is the subject of this evaluation, contributes to one strategic outcome of the Department which aims at “a fair, relevant and accessible justice system that reflects Canadian values”.5 Bilingualism is one of the Canadian values and the Initiative aims to ensure the accessibility of justice services in both official languages.

In the Department’s Report on Plans and Priorities, the planning for the current fiscal year regarding access to justice also includes a commitment to “continue to implement the training component of the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund”.6

4.1.4. Addressing Continued Needs

This range of activities funded by the Initiative continues to meet ongoing needs. The consultations held as part of this evaluation indicate that these needs, from both awareness and training perspectives, are permanent. By its nature, awareness necessitates a continued action in order to reach a large number of individuals. In fact, the audience to reach, whether it is young Canadians or new immigrants, is constantly evolving in the area of access to justice in both official languages. This requires continued renewal of awareness activities. The same argument can be made for training activities since turnover rate within justice professionals is naturally observed. Moreover, maintaining the skills acquired during training necessitates ongoing training activities, refresher courses and support tools.

Demographic trends also point to an ongoing need for supporting official language rights. The arrival of Francophone newcomers outside Quebec and Anglophones newcomers in Quebec is changing the situation in terms of the nature of the demand for legal services in the minority language. Thus, a number of newcomers have needs that arise directly from their status as immigrants or refugees. In addition to having little knowledge of the Canadian legal system, many of them simply do not have sufficient knowledge of the majority language to be able to navigate the court system in that language. As such, the informants consulted in this evaluation systematically underscored the importance of fully understanding the needs of this client base and to focus strategies accordingly. In 2009-10, the Initiative funded a first study specifically targeting newcomers’ legal needs.

In its current form, the Initiative centers predominantly on criminal law. Due to the nature of the legal framework and linguistic obligations of the federal government relating to access to justice in both official languages, the involvement of the Initiative in criminal law is still necessary. However, a larger number of Canadians face civil legal issues rather than criminal law issues. A number of the informants consulted as part of this evaluation stressed the importance of including both criminal and civil law in the Initiative’s mandate. Family law drew the attention of these informants because the federal government has jurisdiction over divorce matters.

It is important to mention that the Initiative already directly and indirectly supports certain initiatives in areas other than criminal:

  • In partnership with the Family Law Policy Unit at the Department of Justice, the Initiative supported a pilot project on training family law mediators;
  • The Initiative also financially supported a national symposium on family justice;
  • Indirectly, the training offered to justice professionals helps increase the capacity of professionals who are not necessarily limited to criminal law activities.

4.2 Effectiveness

This section presents the findings related to the effectiveness of the Initiative. It focuses not only on both components of the Initiative – the Support Fund and Justice training – but also on its coordination mechanisms and the overall impact of the Initiative. First, this section presents an overview of the funding provided by the Initiative since 2008.

4.2.1. Overview of the Initiative’s Funding

At the time this evaluation was undertaken, 137 projects had been funded under the Initiative since 2008.

Out of the $40.4 million allocated to the Initiative, $29.5 million went directly to funding projects, while the remaining amount is devoted to supporting the Department’s consultation structures and operations in connection with access to justice in both official languages.

Over the first four fiscal years, covering the period from 2008-09 to 2011-12, the Department committed nearly three quarters of the amounts allocated to projects, namely $16.4 million out of an initial budget of $22.6 million. The difference representing the amounts not disbursed is largely due to the inability to commit all the amounts allocated over the 2009-10 and 2010-11 fiscal years. This was due to a reprofile of the 2008-09 Initiative’s funds to the next three fiscal years.

Ninety-five of the 137 projects funded (69%) were projects submitted by associations of French-speaking jurists, including the Fédération des associations de juristes d’expression française. The other funded organizations include jurilinguistic centres, Éducaloi, the Centre canadien de français juridique, university institutions, provincial and territorial governments, as well as judicial authorities.

The projects funded are found in all regions of Canada, with a concentration in Ontario (24), Nova Scotia (19) and New Brunswick (19). A total of 15 projects were implemented in Saskatchewan, 14 in Manitoba, eleven in British Columbia, nine in Alberta, two in Newfoundland-Labrador and one in the Yukon. Quebec had six projects, arising from its six funding applications. This limited number of projects in Quebec is partly explained by the limited presence of organizational structures containing Anglophone justice stakeholders. Éducaloi, however, undertook a number of projects specifically targeting Quebec’s Anglophone community. Seventeen nationally focused projects were implemented by a national organization or had a national reach. Figure 2 shows the distribution of the Initiative’s funding in Canada.

Figure 2: Number of Projects by Province or Territory Funded by the Initiative Since 2008

Bar Graph - Number of Projects by Province or Territory Funded by the Initiative Since 2008

[Figure 2 Description]

Nearly 45% of the amounts funded at the time of the evaluation involved the area of training. Of the amounts funded by the Initiative, nearly 20% were allocated to core funding for the associations of French-speaking jurists (including their national federation), whereas nearly 15% of the amounts funded were allocated to projects raising awareness of and promoting justice careers. Lastly, support for jurilinguistic tools development received roughly 19% of the amounts funded. Table 2 shows these breakdowns.

Table 2: Number of projects, amounts funded and percentage of the Initiative’s funding by area of activity since 2008
Area of activity Number of projects Amount funded Percentage of total funding
Training 32 $8,274,390 44%
Jurilinguistic tools 17 $3,460,770 19%
Core funding 37 $3,396,077 18%
Awareness and promotion of justice careers 17 $2,211,565 12%
Other activities 34 $1,309,564 7%
Total 137 $18,652,366 100%

Source: administrative data

4.2.2. Support Fund

The Support Fund is composed of two funding areas: core funding and project funding. This subsection presents results achieved in these areas.

4.2.2.1. Core Funding

At present, the Initiative provides core funding to seven provincial associations of French-speaking jurists (AJEF): British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Core funding is also provided to the FAJEF. These organizations have the mandate to promote and defend the language rights of Canada’s minority Francophone and Acadian communities by facilitating access to justice in French across the country.

One of the Initiative’s important objectives, when it was initially announced in 2003, was to strengthen the country’s network of associations of French-speaking jurists. Although this network existed before 2003, its institutional capacity was greatly limited. Therefore, this was the issue that the Initiative addressed in 2003 by providing core funding, a measure considered exceptional at the time. During the first five years of funding, from 2003 to 2008, significant progress was made in this regard.

The core funding has allowed these associations to be more effective in representing and advocating on behalf of the communities, and to offer relevant services to their members and the community. This funding ensured administrative stability, enabling them to focus their efforts on managing projects, offering services and participating in the various committees and umbrella groups. These associations have also become visible and credible lobby groups, and important resources within their communities.

Core funding for these organizations is maintained under the Roadmap as nearly 20% of the Initiative’s resources allocated at the time of this evaluation ($3.4 million) were devoted to the core funding of these associations, including their national federation.

The experience acquired under the Roadmap confirms, in many respects, the results seen during the first years of the funding. The organizational capacity of these organizations is shown by, among other things, the fact that they are currently piloting or have piloted 58 of the 100 initiatives funded by the Initiative at the time this evaluation was undertaken.7

In addition to managing projects, these associations benefit from their core funding by undertaking awareness and networking activities, such as:

  • Publishing a newsletter, articles in newspapers or participation in radio programs;
  • Holding a law day;
  • Participating in community organization gatherings focusing, for example, on the issue of immigration or development of an overall development plan;
  • Doing representations with government bodies on issues connected with access to justice in both official languages;
  • Holding annual assemblies with training or awareness activities involved.

The interviews conducted for this evaluation, as well as the data gathered through the case studies and the on-line survey, confirm the importance of the core funding of these associations of French-speaking jurists and their federation. They have been key players in the area of access to justice in both official languages. However, the impact that they have varied depending on the prevailing circumstances in their provinces.

The case studies note that the AJEFs of Ontario (AJEFO) and New Brunswick stand out due to their nature: they are professional associations of legal professionals, but in both instances, they have developed multiple connections with non-governmental organizations. The AJEFO’s partners unanimously confirm the key role played by the organization in advancing access to justice in Ontario. The AJEFO has a key role in identifying service gaps; it takes the necessary steps and works with the appropriate bodies for filling the gaps.

The AJEFs of British Columbia and Alberta work in provinces where the public policy framework in terms of services in French presents challenges, versus in the other five provinces where AJEFs exist. Both organizations put more effort into raising the awareness of and educating the public and justice stakeholders rather than with their provincial governments.

The AJEFs of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have developed good working relationships with their respective provincial government. The public policy frameworks of the governments of these three provinces exhibit openness towards access to justice in the minority language. The three AJEFs sit on committees and working groups with their provincial government and see themselves as important partners. This was confirmed by the respondents from the provincial governments, who also consider the Associations as important partners. These AJEFs leverage their visibility within the community and their presence among non-governmental organizations.

The case studies also found that the FAJEF is playing an important role. Due to its composition, it brings a unique perspective that no other organization, at the national level, is able to provide. It implements structuring initiatives, including the pan-Canadian project for training provincial stakeholders operating in the legal system, and positions itself for performing a monitoring function and being able to quickly communicate useful and needed information. The FAJEF’s collaborative relationships with the Department of Justice Canada and the Canadian Bar Association are examples of its national stature.

In a broader context though, the federal government usually provides core funding only on an exceptional basis. Although there was a time when the core funding of non-profit organizations was widespread, the reality is different today. Moreover, there is an expansion in the list of organizations operating in the area of access to justice in both official languages that receive funds from the Initiative through project funding, not core funding, such as the Centre canadien de français juridique, provincial governments, universities, courts and other organizations such as Éducaloi.

4.2.2.2. Project Funding

The projects funded through the Support Fund can be grouped under two themes: promoting careers in justice and other activities intended to young people, and developing jurilinguistic tools. The next paragraphs present results of these projects, but also on the Department’s project funding process and the reporting mechanisms.

Project funding process

As pointed out in section 2, the Department established a project selection committee in 2003 made up of representatives from the Office of Francophonie, Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism and from the Innovation, Analysis and Integration Directorate. Since 2008, a representative from the Department’s Evaluation Division has been providing advice to the members of the committee on performance measurement issues.

During the period covered by the Roadmap, since 2008, the committee strengthened its requirements regarding the information needed for considering a funding application. Essentially, applications submitted must contain more detailed information on the project, and a complete results evaluation framework must be included. The committee members consulted in this evaluation justified this approach saying, among other things, that a greater number of grant applications were going to arise from the increase in funding allocated to the Initiative.

The project selection process was assessed positively by the funded organizations. Among other things, the survey indicates a very high satisfaction level with the documentation on the funding process, the support provided by the Department during this process, the timeframe leading to a decision, the explanations provided at the time of the decision, the signed contribution agreement and the reporting process. In all cases, the respondents’ satisfaction rate was between 95% and 100%.

Reporting mechanisms

To support the reporting process, the Department established a system for managing contribution agreements, which includes an administrative database. This database contains information on the intended and achieved outcomes of each project funded by the Initiative. This evaluation benefitted from that information, especially for measuring the Initiative’s effectiveness in supporting the funded organizations. The database is mainly populated by the project activity reports submitted by the Initiative’s funded organizations. Although some reports are late, activity reports were available for the vast majority of the projects funded.

Measuring outcomes achieved remains a challenge for a number of funded organizations. As such, there is often data on outputs, rather than on outcomes achieved. This is partly explained by the fact that the recipient organizations do not all have the same ability to conduct such evaluations. It is important to note that the Department contacts the organizations if it is not satisfied with the submitted report, in order to make the required corrections. However, it is essential to build on the progress made to date and to fine-tune the performance measurement strategies of the projects funded. In this connection, it is noted that some funded organizations have conducted a formal evaluation of their projects, which is a best practice when the size of the project warrants it. The advice provided by the Department’s Evaluation Division to the selection committee should also help strengthen the current performance measurement strategy.

Promoting careers in justice and other activities intended for young people

At the time this evaluation was undertaken, 17 projects representing $2.2 million were devoted to promoting different justice careers. During the interviews conducted as part of this evaluation, the project that drew the most attention in this regard is Carrière en justice, initially introduced in Ontario and now offered in other parts of the country. This project combines an interactive website and a set of activities targeting, on a priority basis, high school students at Francophone and immersion schools. It essentially encourages young bilingual Canadians (from ages 11 to 18) to aim towards positions within the justice system, especially positions such as clerks, stenographers, bailiffs, lawyers, or police officers. In Quebec, Éducaloi has also undertaken a project for promoting justice careers among young bilingual Anglophones and Francophones.

These types of activities, especially the concept of the Carrière en justice project, were supported among all the groups consulted in this evaluation given that many young people may be unaware of the opportunities open to them in the field of justice, or they assume that these careers are limited to the duties of lawyers, judges or police officers. The projects funded by the Initiative expand the horizons of the young people who participate and enable them to see how their knowledge of both official languages can be leveraged. Project evaluation reports submitted by funded organizations indicate that the young individuals and the volunteers who participated to Carrière en justicehave benefited from their experience. It can be expected that these activities will lead to a rise in young bilingual Canadians registering for education programs for the careers that are promoted. However, due to the methodological complexity of measuring mid- and long-term impacts of this type of project, this evaluation did not address this issue. It is suggested that such measurements be covered by a stand-alone study.

The Initiative also provided financial support to the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law for offering a pre-law program for immigrant students admitted to the common law program in French. This program enables the participants to better understand the basis of the Canadian legal system, and thereby give them a more solid foundation for pursuing their legal studies. This project is aligned with the Initiative’s vision because one of its objectives was to provide justice professionals to minority Francophone communities able to serve them in their first official language.

Various other activities aiming more specifically at informing young people about the field of justice were conducted such as théâtre-action activities, day camps or summer camps, and classroom presentations. These activities address the awareness objective of the Initiative.

Jurilinguistic tools

The existence of legislative bilingualism and bijuralism in Canada requires standardization of the common law and civil law vocabularies in French and English. It is for that purpose that work is being done to develop jurilinguistic tools. These tools also support the training activities provided, including those by the Centre canadien de français juridique.

At the time of this evaluation, 17 projects, representing $3.5 million, had been devoted to developing jurilinguistic tools. This essentially reflects the work that is traditionally undertaken by jurilinguistic centres. This type of tool is different from those specifically or exclusively designed for the training sessions (even though they can obviously be used during these training activities). Thus, the list of tools developed through the Initiative includes:

  • Work on standardizing a common law vocabulary in French;
  • Development of on-line jurilinguistic reference tools;
  • Preparation of French summaries of court decisions published only in English;
  • Support services for legal practitioners handling jurilinguistic issues;
  • Development of encyclopaedic dictionaries;
  • Preparation of legal reference works on Canadian bilingualism and bijuralism.

The experience acquired to date and documented in the activity reports of the Initiative’s funded organizations indicates that these tools are first and foremost used by legislative drafters and legal translators.

However, the case studies noted that the type of tools produced by the jurilinguistic centres has evolved over the years; they have gone from more theoretical tools to practical tools. The set of jurilinguistic tools has increased, and the tools are used by specialists and, in some cases, by practitioners. The Internet has changed the approach. It is no longer about producing tools in manuals for commercial sale, but to make them accessible to as many people as possible. Free tools means a drop in revenue for the project, but an increase in the use of the tools produced. Due to their nature, these projects do not and are not intended to have a direct impact in terms of raising the awareness of official language minority communities.

4.2.3. Justice Training

The Initiative received an additional $20 million budget over five years in 2008 to support projects for training bilingual justice professionals such as judges, attorneys, clerks, bailiffs and probation officers. One of the first challenges was to incorporate those additional training-related funds into the Initiative’s structures. In fact, the question was how to invest that amount effectively, especially within a relatively tight timeline. The next sub-sections provide details on the effectiveness of the implementation of this new component as well as on the funding provided to date.

4.2.3.1. Implementation

With the launch of the Initiative, the Department did not start funding training projects right away. Instead, it conducted a formal training needs study of justice professionals to establish the guiding principles and identify a set of strategic priorities. That study was carried out during the first fiscal year of the Roadmap and was completed by the Department in March 2009. It focused on four main areas:

  • Developing the people who already work in the justice system;
  • Developing a course program in partnership with colleges and universities for young bilingual Canadians who want to work in the system;
  • Preparing tools that support the training and development of justice professionals;
  • Establishing a promotion and recruiting strategy targeting young bilingual Canadians.

The objective of this training needs study was not to set specific projects, but rather to set strategic measures to consider. In fact, this document is a terms of reference for the Justice training component of the Initiative, based on the specific training needs of justice professionals. This study suggested about a dozen specific strategic measures based on four guiding principles:8

  • Targeted intervention: federal investment on its own cannot meet all training needs and must necessarily target its investment in order to contribute to the anticipated results;
  • Compensatory effect: the official language training activities in the field of justice enable a systemic corrective action for filling an intermittent demand in the minority official language;
  • Building on acquired language knowledge: to help achieve the objectives set out in the Roadmap, the federal investment must systematically target the justice professionals who already have a working knowledge in both official languages;
  • Vary the intensity of the intervention: high-density learning activities (e.g. five consecutive days of training) should be connected with regular training activities (e.g. development tools).

The study particularly recommends that the Department invest in training professionals who already have a working knowledge of their second official language, support both in-person and on-line training, and broaden the scope of the training available to date in order to include a larger number of court professionals such as clerks, stenographers, registry officers or probation officers.

The individuals consulted in the course of this evaluation rated this requirements-study-based approach to be effective. In their view, this helped establish certain parameters on what would be accepted as training projects. It enabled the Department and potential applicants to have the same expectations in regard to the strategic direction of the Initiative’s training component. The administrative data connected with the Initiative also confirm that the training projects funded are systematically linked to one of the strategic measures in the needs study.

4.2.3.2. Project Funding

At the time of this evaluation, 32 projects, representing $8.3 million, were specifically devoted to justice-related training. The results of the on-line survey show that the training projects funded by the Initiative increased the capacity of justice professionals to operate in both official languages. In particular, more than half the respondents maintain that the capacity of Crown Attorneys and court officials increased and nearly half feel the same way about the members of the judiciary. Conversely, the increase in the capacity of the legal aid systems and private lawyers does not appear as evident. However, respondents reported that, since the Initiative’s training component was implemented, they have noted significant growth in language training opportunities in connection with criminal law. The interviews with the key informants confirm these findings.

The projects funded mainly include training for justice professionals (judges, attorneys, clerks, bailiffs, probation officers, etc.), which was provided by the Centre canadien de français juridique and the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General (French Language Institute of Professional Development), as well as other organizations, including the jurilinguistic centres. Two projects, in Ontario and Manitoba, also provided language training to police departments.

In a number of cases, the training projects undertaken needed new tools to be developed, as well as a concentrated effort to expand the pool of trainers. The data gathered as part of this evaluation indicate that significant progress has been made in this respect, especially pertaining to in-person training. The activity reports, case studies and interviews confirm the participants’ high level of satisfaction with this type of training. It was described as being practical, well structured, given by high-calibre trainers, and enabling participants to improve their mastery of legal vocabulary. The establishment of the Centre canadien de français juridique, which arose directly from the Initiative’s funding in the area of training, strengthened the institutional capacity to provide a wider range of training to the various legal professionals.

However, the development of on-line training did not progress at the same rate, although there are some initiatives in this area, including one conducted jointly by the Association des juristes d’expression française de la Nouvelle-Écosse in partnership with the Université Ste-Anne. Other initiatives will have to be undertaken in the future to address the needs for on-line training capacity described in the 2009 needs study.

Individuals consulted as part of this evaluation described certain measures that could be considered in order to improve the progress made to date in the area of training:

  • The Initiative should encourage an expansion in training in order to reach more police departments, which have a key role in the criminal justice system and are often the first point of contact for offenders;
  • In addition to the justice professionals covered to date, training should reach individuals who work with victims, social workers and other front-line staff;
  • Some respondents consulted also encourage the Department to broaden the justice fields covered by the training provided. At present, this training is targeted mainly at criminal law. Due to the jurisdiction of the federal government in family law, more particularly in divorce matters, these respondents would like to see the Department fund training activities in that area;
  • The Department is also encouraged to create a directory of all resources offered through the various training programs.

With respect to this last measure, the Department has already funded the development of a portal that will have this very function. At the time of this evaluation, that project, piloted by the Centre for Legal Translation and Documentation at the University of Ottawa, in partnership with the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario, was still in the implementation phase. Therefore, it was impossible to measure the outcomes of that project, but a number of individuals consulted during this evaluation expect that the project will have significant impacts on access to justice in both official languages, including the availability of tools and networking opportunities.

Training is an activity that usually needs to occur on an ongoing basis, not only because there is necessarily a turn-over among the players in the justice system and that, therefore, it is important to ensure succession in these areas, but also because the skills acquired during this training must be maintained. Skill maintenance is identified by a number of respondents consulted as a major challenge for access to justice in both official languages and, therefore, for the Initiative. In this regard, the needs study noted, with reference to the provisions of the Criminal Code on official languages:

"(…) equality of status must often be joined with demographic inequality. Certain initiatives are therefore necessary in order to provide a compensatory effect. It is precisely this purpose that training can serve. Besides developing new language skills, training activities help to keep the stakeholder connected to his second official language in the workplace."9

In short, the funding under the Initiative’s training component proved effective. Before 2008, the system had a minimal capacity for providing training to justice professionals. With the projects funded since 2008, the quantity and quality of training activities has improved. Progress has been made, including building the institutional capacity to provide in-person training. However, given that the additional funding has been available only since 2008, additional effort will be needed to adequately meet the needs identified in the 2009 needs study. The mid- and long-term impacts of the training projects will have to be measured in the future evaluation exercises conducted by the funded organizations and the Department.

4.2.4. Coordination Mechanisms

Over the period covered by this evaluation, the Department coordinated two consultation structures:

  • The Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in both Official Languages, which brings together representatives from the Department of Justice, representatives from umbrella organizations in official language minority communities, jurilinguistic centres, and faculties of law. The Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, Commissioner of Official Languages and Canadian Heritage officials also attend the committees’ meetings as observers;
  • The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in both Official Languages, which brings together representatives from the Department of Justice and from the provincial and territorial ministries responsible for the administration of justice.

The Advisory Committee participants consulted as part of this evaluation are generally satisfied with its operation. The Committee meets once a year and enables the Department of Justice to inform the Initiative’s funded organizations of the strategic direction that it intends to take and its funding priorities. This committee also helped increase networking among the participants and facilitate experience-sharing among them. However, certain participants consulted mentioned that the Committee would benefit from broadening the type of stakeholders able to participate.

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group participants consulted in this evaluation said they were very satisfied with the activities undertaken through this advisory structure. The members of this working group formally meet once a year, but are in constant communication throughout the rest of the year. It enables them to establish work relations and share their respective experiences in access to justice in both official languages.

It should be noted that the Department of Justice was invited by the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie to present the activities that it undertook in the area of access to justice in both official languages. This intergovernmental organization is composed of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for Canadian Francophonie. They meet annually to discuss intergovernmental questions involving the Canadian Francophonie and to engage in a dialogue aimed at fostering the development of public policies to strengthen the country’s linguistic duality.10 The departments followed up on that presentation by passing a resolution inviting the provinces and territories to designate a representative from their Francophone affairs to take part in the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group. The presence of this representative further raises the awareness of the various provincial and territorial ministries about matters pertaining to access to justice in both official languages.

4.2.5. Overall Impact of the Initiative

Overall, the outcomes achieved through the Initiative have enabled the Department of Justice to make a tangible contribution to expanding access to justice in both official languages in Canada.

Due to the existence of legislative bilingualism and bijuralism in Canada, the concept of access to justice in both official languages would be unable to advance without a standardized common law and civil law terminology in both French and English. Development of this terminology is being pursued through funding of jurilinguistic tools projects under the Initiative, along with the development of tools facilitating access.

As well, the Initiative has supported the training of professionals in the justice system. In particular, the training activities helped reach a broader range of justice professionals, which is one of its central objectives. However, given that the approach under the training component is relatively recent, work still remains to be done to meet the initially identified needs. It will also be important to measure the mid- and long-term impacts, especially pertaining to learning retention.

The Initiative also enabled the network of associations of French-speaking jurists and their national federation to strengthen their institutional capacity and undertake activities to raise awareness among justice professionals and the Canadian population in general about law and the legal field in the context of official language communities. Nearly 70% of the projects funded by the Initiative were implemented by one of those organizations. However, uncertainty around their core funding could lead them to redefine a portion of their mandate. To that end, these organizations could be asked to play a greater direct role among the population. Drawing on the model of the community justice centre, some interview respondents consulted in this evaluation would like the community component of these organizations to take the form of direct services for the population wishing to better understand their rights and obligations, in the language of their choice.

4.3. Efficiency

This evaluation found that the Initiative operates under management practices that foster efficient use of human resources. Moreover, the Initiative’s project funding strategy enables the Department to achieve results through an efficient use of financial resources. This subsection examines these issues.

4.3.1 Management Practices

All the projects funded by the Initiative are approved by the Department’s selection committee. As indicated previously, a very large majority of funded organizations are very satisfied with their interactions with the committee. The Department has managed to maintain flexible-enough processes to be able to respond effectively and in a timely manner to all requests submitted. The evaluation found that the management practices implemented by the Initiative’s selection committee foster efficient use of human resources for achieving the anticipated outcomes.

First, before a project is submitted to the committee, it must go through certain preliminary steps. The project in question is analyzed by a program officer to determine whether all the documentation has been submitted and whether the information presented is specific enough. The organization submitting an application may also be asked more general questions. These activities aim to provide the committee with complete information so that it can focus on the worth of the projects, including the intended outcomes and potential partnerships. It is not uncommon for the organizations submitting a contribution application to have to answer a set of questions on these topics before obtaining approval for their project’s funding.

The selection committee also considers the other projects funded in the past in order to avoid duplication. It is possible for an organization to be asked to adapt an existing project to its provincial context. Projects undertaken under the 2003 Action Plan that were unable to achieve meaningful results are also considered in order to avoid projects that are known to be inefficient. This approach is strongly supported by the contribution agreement management system database, which proved especially useful for the purpose of this evaluation.

Lastly, the Initiative’s selection committee systematically referred to the Justice training needs study when analyzing funding applications submitted by the organizations. At the time of this evaluation, roughly 45% of the amounts funded by the Initiative involve the area of training. Each training project funded was found to be closely tied to one or more strategic measures set out in this study. This approach, based on stakeholders’ needs and on high-impact projects, helped to strategically target the Initiative’s training funding given that funds explicitly devoted to training were new and the timeline was relatively tight.

The Canadian official language minority population, especially the minority Francophone population, has changed considerably over the past decade. Outside Quebec, there are increasingly more Francophone citizens through international immigration. That reality is leading to new needs in terms of access to justice in both official languages. The projects, including those involving awareness-raising, must reflect that reality. Therefore, the selection committee also looks at the analysis of newcomers’ needs in the area of justice done in 2009-10. This analysis helps properly direct some of the Initiative’s financial resources to projects that address those needs.

4.3.2. Project Funding Strategy

The case studies conducted by the Department in 2011 analyzed the projects funded through the Initiative from 2008 to 2010, along with their impact on the issue of access to justice in both official languages. The case studies propose, amongst other things, an integrative model for access to justice in both official languages. This model is a first attempt by the Department to identify the key areas that the Initiative must fund to bring about structuring and multiplier effects. The Department should clarify and refine this model as the Initiative evolves. Concretely, this model, shown in Figure 4, identifies the areas where funding will have the greatest effects in relation to the Initiative’s objectives.

This integrative model proposes that funding should cover two perspectives: support the supply of services (increased capacity to develop innovative solutions), and stimulate the demand for services (increased awareness of exercising one’s rights).

The supply of services includes two components: the provincial public policy framework pertaining to the minority official language (which includes legislation, by-laws and policy statements), and the capacity of justice professionals. The actions of the organizations working in this area must necessarily deal with these two components. Although the Initiative does not act directly on the public policy framework, it can fund activities that have a direct impact on justice professionals’ capacity to provide services in the minority official language. Therefore, the evaluation finds that the Initiative has supported projects in training, educational tools development and reference documents for justice professionals. In fact, 63% of the financial resources were allocated to projects for training and jurilinguistic tools development.

Again based on this model, the demand for services is also influenced by two factors: collective attitudes and beliefs, as well as personal ones. Thus, the projects for stimulating demand must necessarily cover activities that educate the legal community and the minority community about exercising their language rights. The evaluation finds that 12% of the financial resources directly involve stimulating demand, including through awareness projects and careers in justice projects.

On the whole, the three quarters of the amounts funded by the Initiative during the period covered by this evaluation went directly into areas identified by the integrative model as having the greatest multiplier and structuring effects in relation to the Initiative’s objectives. Figure 3 shows these findings. Use of the Initiative’s resources seems efficient in that the funding points are closely aligned with the integrative model proposed by the case studies. It is important to specify, however, that the remaining amount funded by the Initiative, namely 25%, involves the core funding of the AJEFs and the FAJEF and other one-time activities. Even though a direct link with supply and demand cannot be established so easily, these activities may have had an impact on supply and demand in the system of access to justice in both official languages.

Figure 3: Percentage of the Initiative’s Direct Funding on the “Supply” and “Demand” Components Suggested by the Integrative Model from the Case Studies

Pie Chart - Funding by Supply and Demand (%)

[Figure 3 Description]

Moreover, it has been noticed that some projects were carried out on a multipartite funding basis. That funding basis means that the funding for those projects was supported by more than one organization, including the Department of Justice. During the period covered by this evaluation, 12% of the projects supported by the Initiative were funded on that basis.11 These projects represent 10% of the Initiative’s total spending.

Figure 4: Integrative Model – Access to Justice in Both Official Languages

Flowchart - Integrative Model of Funding Areas

[Figure 4 Description]


  • [1] R. v. Beaulac, [1999] 1 R.C.S. 768.
  • [2] Note that some civil law issues appear before federal courts (Federal Court and Supreme Court of Canada) or before federal administrative tribunals. In those circumstances, the language rights recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act apply.
  • [3] Governor General of Canada. (2010). The Speech from the Throne 2010.
  • [4] For 2011-12, the other core domains are criminal justice, family justice, aboriginal justice, and private international and public law.
  • [5] Department of Justice Canada. (2011). Report on Plans and Priorities 2011-12.
    Accessible at: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2011-2012/inst/jus/juspr-eng.asp?format=print.
  • [6] Department of Justice Canada. (2011). Report on Plans and Priorities 2011-12.
    Accessible at: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2011-2012/inst/jus/juspr-eng.asp?format=print.
  • [7] It is worth noting that 37 of the 137 projects funded by the Initiative at the time of this evaluation represent the various allocations for the core funding of the associations of French-speaking jurists and their national federation. Therefore, we removed these 37 projects for the purpose of this finding.
  • [8] Department of Justice Canada. (2009). Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Training Needs in the Area of Justice: Report. Ottawa..
  • [9] Department of Justice Canada. (2009). Canada-Wide Analysis of Official Language Training Needs in the Area of Justice: Report. Ottawa, pg. 35.
  • [10] Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie. The Canadian Francophonie: An Overview of Government Initiatives. September 2008.
  • [11] The core funding of AJEFs and the FAJEF was excluded from this calculation.
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