Initiative in Support of Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Evaluation
5. Conclusions and Lessons Learned
This section of the report contains the conclusions and lessons learned from the evaluation. The information is structured according to each of the evaluation questions.
- 1. What is the Initiative’s relevance in relation to the priorities of the Department of Justice and the federal government in terms of access to justice in both official languages?
The Initiative’s objectives directly align with the federal government’s priorities. The federal government, in its 2010 Speech from the Throne, reiterated the importance of bilingualism and the Roadmap that supports it. The Initiative also contributes to one of the Department’s strategic outcome, which aims at
“a fair, relevant and accessible justice system that reflects Canadian values”. In addition, the Initiative fits into the broader framework of access to justice, a widely shared concern among many organizations, including the Department of Justice.
- 2. Is there a legitimate and necessary role for the federal government in the area of access to justice in both official languages?
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 its language obligations enunciated in the official languages legal framework in place, and related case law, particularly the Beaulac case.
- 3. To what extent do the activities undertaken through the Initiative meet the needs of justice stakeholders?
In the area of training, the needs study conducted by the Department during the first fiscal year covered by the Initiative helped set meaningful parameters for guiding further training funding. The Department also supported its funding approach with the analysis of newcomers’ justice needs completed in 2009-10. The other activities carried out to facilitate access to justice in both official languages also reflect the needs of justice professionals. In particular, the actions to raise awareness of and promote justice careers helped educate many young bilingual Canadians about the opportunities available in the justice system.
- 4. Is there a continued need for the activities funded by the Initiative?
By its very nature, training for justice professionals is a continuing need. Not only staff turnover requires this approach, but it is also important to recognize that training plays a lead role in maintaining acquired knowledge, especially in a minority language setting. Along the same line, the other activities for promoting access to justice in both official languages are ongoing. Raising awareness of careers in justice, as well as delivering activities for providing legal information to official language minority communities, are measures that will have to continue. The strategies and tools used, however, will have to evolve to reflect, among other things, new information technologies.
- 5. Does implementation of the training-related component align with the objectives of the Initiative and the Roadmap for Linguistic Duality? Was it implemented effectively?
Implementation of the training component was carried out effectively since, among other things, the Department conducted a needs study that was widely endorsed by justice professionals. The projects funded in the area of training directly address the needs identified by the study. Establishing the Centre canadien de français juridique, which arises directly from the Initiative’s funding in the area of training, strengthened the institutional capacity for offering a wider range of training activities to different legal players. Although some activities had been undertaken in the area of on-line training, other initiatives will have to come about to be able to adequately meet the needs relating to this area.
- 6. How clear and transparent is the process for selecting projects funded through the Support Fund and the training component?
Based on the experience acquired between 2003 and 2008, and in view of the fact that the Initiative’s budget increased under the Roadmap, the Department, as of 2008, raised its requirements regarding the information required for considering a funding application in order to better manage the applications submitted. The Initiative’s funded organizations are satisfied with the existing process from the perspective of the information provided, the support when submitting funding applications and reporting requirements.
- 7. Do the coordination structures connected with the Initiative operate effectively?
The existing coordination structures are generally effectively. In particular, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Access to Justice in both Official Languages helped establish important links among its various participants. The recent involvement of provincial representatives responsible for Francophone affairs also helped expand the issues addressed by the Working Group. The Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages continues to meet with a high number of the Initiative’s funded organizations, which, among other things, enables the Department to communicate directly with them at least once a year.
- 8. To what extent are the data relating to performance measurement and reporting collected and incorporated into the day-to-day management of the Initiative?
The Department has established a system for managing contribution agreements, which includes an administrative database containing information on each project’s intended and achieved outcomes. Although some funded organizations experience delays, activity reports were still available for the vast majority of the projects funded. Measuring outcomes achieved remains a challenge for many funded organizations. As such, they often end up with data pertaining to outputs, rather than outcomes achieved. However, it is essential to build on the progress made to date and refine the performance measurement strategies of the projects funded.
- 9. To what extent did the Initiative contribute to the implementation of projects helping to ensure increased, ongoing access to justice services in both official languages?
The projects supported by the Initiative helped ensure increased, ongoing access to justice services in both official languages. In the short term, the training activities strengthened the language capacity of a number of professionals in the justice system, including the judiciary, lawyers and Crown attorneys. The development of jurilinguistic tools also helps establish a standardized common law and civil law vocabulary in both French and English. In the longer term, the activities for raising awareness of and promoting careers in justice among young bilingual Canadians should also help establish institutional bilingualism in the justice system. These activities reach young people all across the country and expand their options in this regard. Also noted is an increase in activities in Quebec, particularly through the organization Éducaloi. Traditionally, the number of projects introduced in Quebec was limited due, among other things, to the limitations in the institutional capacity of justice stakeholders within that province’s Anglophone community.
- 10. To what extent has the training component contributed to the development of an academic program, recruiting tools and strategies for ensuring increased, ongoing access to justice services in both official languages?
The Initiative projects in the area of training focused on training justice professionals who already have a basic knowledge of the other official language, especially individuals working in positions supporting the courts. To that end, a set of educational tools were created, and a number of individuals were trained to be able to act as trainers.
- 11. To what extent were the identified training needs met?
The Initiative broadened the training opportunities across the country. Needs still remain, however, since this is still a recent initiative.
- 12. To what extent is there complementarity among the activities undertaken by the Support Fund and those undertaken by the training component?
The Initiative’s two components had very complementary roles. In fact, both of them contribute to the same end, namely expanding access to justice in both official languages. The training clearly drew special attention under the Roadmap, given the amounts that were invested in this area. This new dynamic also led to an expansion of organizations involved in implementing the projects funded by the Initiative.
- 13. Did the Initiative have unanticipated impacts (positive or negative)?
No unanticipated impacts were identified during this evaluation.
- 14. How adequate were the project funding mechanisms?
The management practices currently in place propose aspects involving the efficient use of human resources. Also, the Initiative’s project funding strategy systematically supports projects from the perspectives of “supply” and “demand”. The case studies conducted in 2011 identified those as the key areas where the projects could have structuring and multiplier effects on the system of access to justice in both official languages.
- 15. Is there a more effective approach for achieving the Initiative’s objectives?
No other more effective or efficient approach was identified by this evaluation.
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