Contraventions Act Fund for Implementation of Language Obligations Evaluation

5. CONCLUSIONS AND LESSONS LEARNED

This section of the report contains the conclusions of and lessons learned from the evaluation. The information is structured according to each of the evaluation questions.

5.1 Relevance

1. Do the objectives of the Implementation Fund align with the federal government’s priorities, and those of the Department of Justice?

The Implementation Fund objectives directly align with the federal government’s priorities. The Implementation Fund is an essential component of implementing the Contraventions Act in the provinces, in keeping with the federal government’s language obligations.

To date, the Implementation Fund has been exclusively dedicated to the adoption by the provinces, on behalf of the federal government, of measures intended to the respect of linguistic rights. This is why it was included in the Roadmap for Linguistic Duality, along with, among other things, the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund.

The Implementation Fund fits into the context of a procedural regime created by a legislative text, more so than an official languages initiative. Management of the Implementation Fund must be directly tied to management of the negotiation and conclusion of agreements authorizing administration of the Act across the country. In this vein, the intermediate and long-term outcomes of the Implementation Fund must necessarily be connected with the Contraventions Act.

It would therefore be prudent for the Department of Justice to merge the accountability process for the Implementation Fund with that of the Contraventions Act. Thus, instead of evaluating the Implementation Fund and the Contraventions Act separately, as has been the case to date, the Department could develop a strategy pertaining to the Contraventions Act that would include a component involving the associated language obligations.

2. Is the Implementation Fund a suitable tool for fulfilling the language obligations associated with the Contraventions Act?

The Implementation Fund is a suitable tool for fulfilling the language obligations associated with implementing the Contraventions Act. The experience acquired to date shows that the Fund has enabled the funding recipients to have the bilingual institutional capacity to fulfill the language obligations associated with the implementation of the Contraventions Act.

The parameters around the Implementation Fund have proven to be flexible enough to accommodate institutional and language-related realities that vary considerably across all the provinces and territories. Moreover, the Fund focused on well-identified needs to ensure the capacity of the provinces to offer, on behalf of the federal government, services in both official languages, as required by the Criminal Code and the Official Languages Act. Where such needs do not exist, as is the case in New Brunswick and Quebec, no financial resources from the Implementation Fund have been directed to those provinces.

5.2 Effectiveness

3. Are the activities funded by the Implementation Fund based on adequately expressed needs or gaps?

All funding recipients of the Implementation Fund conducted needs analyses to determine the type of activities enabling them to fulfill the language obligations associated with the Contraventions Act. The terms and conditions of the Fund allow for funding the activities identified as being required in view of those various requirement studies.

To date, the activities funded by the Implementation Fund reflect the type of activities normally funded in this area, namely language training for stakeholders, tools development and the hiring of bilingual staff.

4. Are the activities funded by the Implementation Fund carried out as planned?

The funding recipients did carry out their activities funded by the Implementation Fund. This evaluation identified no substantial problems in implementing those activities.

5. Are the reports provided by the provinces and territories sufficient for addressing the federal government’s accountability requirements?

Overall, the funding recipients submit complete activity reports. However, some delays are noted in the delivery of those reports. As such, at the time of the evaluation, one jurisdiction still had not submitted its activity report for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The information included in those activity reports confirms how the Implementation Fund resources are used and documents the quantity of tickets issued, the statutes they are connected with, and the quantity of tickets contested in court, including the number of trials in either official language.

6. Do the jurisdictions handling federal contraventions all have a regulatory framework and agreements that reflect the applicable language rights?

The recipient jurisdictions of the Implementation Fund have a regulatory framework and agreements that determine the applicable language rights.

7. What range of activities have been supported by the Implementation Fund to date? Are there any gaps preventing the federal government from meeting its obligations?

The range of activities funded by the Implementation Fund includes the hiring of bilingual staff covering judicial activities and extra-judicial services, language training, bilingual communication tools, signage, as well as the information management activities required by administering federal contraventions.

The evaluation identified no gaps that would prevent the federal government from meeting its language obligations.

8. To what extent has the provinces’ capacity for providing bilingual services pertaining to federal contraventions increased?

The funding recipients are able to provide services in both official languages at each stage of processing a federal contravention, ranging from the issuing of a ticket to the trial when a person pleads not guilty to the infraction attributed to him/her.

The activities funded by the Implementation Fund enable the provincial governments to respect linguistic rights related to the implementation of the Contraventions Act.

5.3 Efficiency and Economy

9. Has the Implementation Fund been implemented in a cost-effective manner?

The Implementation Fund has been operated in a cost-effective manner. The activities funded to date reflect widely recognized practices for bilingual service delivery in judicial and extra-judicial environments.

The Department adopted terms and conditions that define expenditures that are eligible under the Implementation Fund. These terms and conditions do align with widely recognized practices. Moreover, the Department reviews each project application to ensure that the resources will be used for purposes specifically associated with the Contraventions Act. Obviously, a provincial government’s capacity to provide bilingual services in the context of a federal contravention may, by extension, further help provide bilingual services in the context of a penal or criminal offence. This, then, is an unintended, yet positive, outcome stemming from the Implementation Fund.

The Department has invested a minimal amount of resources while sufficiently addressing the funding recipients’ needs to ensure their capacity for providing bilingual services specifically connected with the Contraventions Act requirements.

Implementing the Contraventions Act across the country is going to require additional funding within the existing budget. Three provinces and three territories have yet to reach an agreement with the Department of Justice authorizing the implementation of the Contraventions Act in compliance with the associated language obligations. The specific level of resources required by those agreements will be known only when the latter have been negotiated. In the meantime, the Department must continue with the actions undertaken, yet bearing in mind that the timeframe required for signing those agreements will be largely determined by the provinces and territories.

10. Are there other ways to achieve the Implementation Fund’s objectives?

Although there is another way to achieve the Implementation Fund objectives, it would result in considerably higher costs. In fact, it involves introducing independent separate federal scheme as set out in the Contraventions Act. Since that option could not be justified financially, the Implementation Fund is still by far the most effective, efficient way to proceed with implementing the Contraventions Act.

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