Federal institutions are often challenged in taking positive measures to enhance our community. Solutions could include establishing a community-managed cross-sectoral development fund. Closer intergovernmental collaboration and transparency by placing separate resource envelopes targeted to the community within bilateral agreements has also proven very effective;
The Quebec Community Groups Network has completed its survey to identify the annual priorities of Quebec’s English-speaking community. The survey was distributed over a two-week period to more than 200 organizations serving English-speaking Quebecers. The goal is to support our community in exercising collective control over resources allocated to it. Following analysis of the survey results, the QCGN is pleased to present the 2022-2023 Community Development Priorities of the English-speaking Communities of Quebec.
Between 2012 and 2019, the Priority-Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) of the QCGN conducted an annual online survey to monitor evolving priorities for building community vitality. Since 2019, a wide range of voices from Quebec’s English-speaking community continue to be consulted through the Strategic Growth Plan set up to discuss increased funding available to organizations serving English-speaking Quebec as part of its Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. These new investments included a $5-million development fund to help these organizations deliver services across different regions and sectors.
The Strategic Growth Plan process relies on ongoing consultations with community stakeholders to build consensus on the key challenges facing Quebec’s English-speaking community and the organizations that serve it. This year’s survey was the first conducted under this process. It proposed a set of priorities based on output from these consultations for community validation.
The QCGN is thankful to the many organizations that took the time to complete our survey. The Department of Canadian Heritage is committed to using these priorities to allocate resources for program and project funding for the next fiscal year. It also uses survey results to identify development opportunities as well as interdepartmental and intradepartmental initiatives. However, these grassroot priorities are pertinent to decision makers in all federal departments and agencies and other levels of government, and we invite them to take these priorities into account when allocating resources to organizations and institutions serving our community.
While the finalization of these priorities represents an important milestone in the Strategic Growth Plan, it is by no means the end of the process. Our community continues to face multiple challenges which must be addressed through collective action. Over the summer the QCGN will continue to engage community stakeholders to lay the framework for a community development plan by and for the English-speaking community of Quebec – a plan that will serve as a framework for such action. As a centre of evidence-based expertise and collective action QCGN’s mission is to encourage dialogue and collaboration among its member organizations, individuals, community groups, institutions, and leaders. This exercise is essential in helping us identify and address the strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community. QCGN would be unable to achieve these goals without active input, so stay tuned!
The Community Growth Plan establishes a process for the English-speaking community of Quebec to influence how resources are allocated, via continuous consultation and needs assessment.
Funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage, the ultimate objective of the Growth Plan is to produce a community development plan for English-speaking Quebec. The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) is the federal government’s official interlocutor with Quebec’s English-speaking community. We have been mandated to mobilize a full range of stakeholders to work together to build a strategic community plan to address community needs and priorities. This plan will serve as a framework for collective action to strengthen the vitality of our communities.
In 2018, the Government of Canada increased funding available to organizations serving English-speaking Quebec as part of its Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. These new investments included a $5-million development fund to help these organizations deliver services across different regions and sectors.
Thanks to Growth Plan project funding, the QCGN is bringing together organizations and institutions representing Quebec’s English-speaking communities to develop this framework and discuss what support is required to build and sustain the vitality of our community of communities. The ultimate goal is for community stakeholders to work cooperatively to achieve together what they cannot accomplish on their own.
Since February 2020, the QCGN has provided multiple opportunities for capacity-building, networking, and resource sharing. More than 100 stakeholders from across various regions, sectors of activity, and cultural communities participated in three town halls, two forums, and three consultations. Together, we built consensus around many key challenges that we face. Our challenges include:
- Inadequate funding and funding sources;
- Difficulty recruiting and retaining staff as well as volunteer leaders;
- The need to improve networking and community collaboration;
- Accessing evidence-based information and relevant data;
- A lack of representation at decision-making levels; and
- Legislative and bureaucratic barriers.
In addition, participants identified the need for greater grassroots consultations to ensure the advocacy process truly reflects the needs and priorities of the English-speaking community and helps the QCGN assess its own priorities to better respond to the needs of the communities we represent.
If your organization would like to get involved in Growth Plan consultations, please contact Riley Dalys-Fine, Manager of Community Outreach and Engagement.
COMMUNITY FORUMS AND CONSULTATIONS
COMMUNITY FORUMS AND CONSULTATIONS
Through ongoing consultations and dialogue, we are building a community development plan that:
- Aligns with the needs and priorities of the community;
- Increases collaboration among community stakeholders;
- Fosters shared understanding of community needs and priorities;
- Raises awareness of the diverse realities of communities across English-speaking Quebec; and
- Validates the findings of prior consultations and proposed strategic orientations.
Beginning in September 2020, three community forums have assessed, validated, and identified areas of focus for the QCGN and the community at large. Beginning with a broad community consultation in early December, the QCGN facilitated several roundtable discussions with stakeholders from key sectors to compile a portrait of community needs. It illustrates how our community’s vitality is hindered by gaps in public policy. This portrait also serves as an evidence base for collective action.
Working Together for a More Vital Community
Our September Working Together for a More Vital Community Forum validated key findings and challenges identified during previous consultations. Stakeholders explored questions around identity, strategies to develop collective action and strengthen advocacy, and the importance of evidence-based policy. Consult:
- The PowerPoint from the forum; and
- The summary report, which provides an overview and a synthesis of discussions.
Facing Common Challenges for a More Vital Community
During our December Facing Common Challenges for a More Vital Community Consultation, stakeholders identified gaps in public policy that impact community vitality in key sectors of activity. Input from community members during the roundtable discussions identified common themes and strategic sectors for more detailed analysis. Consult:
- The PowerPoint from the consultation; and
- The summary report, which provides an overview of the consultation, key findings by sector, and defines next steps.
Building a More Vital Community Together
Held in March 2021, our Building a More Vital Community Together Forum discussed policy gaps and how they impact community vitality within specific sectors – Arts, Culture and Heritage; Education; Employment; Health and Social Services; Justice; and Community Media. Through networking and capacity-building, the forum also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to embark upon a process for building a community development plan. Consult:
- The PowerPoint from the forum (coming soon);
- Sector portraits developed during the consultations focused on gaps in four areas: funding, legislation, data, and representation; and
- The summary report, which provides an overview of the forum program and suggests the next steps in the Growth Plan process.
Please contact Riley Dalys-Fine at Riley.firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be included on our mailing list for future events and consultations.
DECLARATION FROM THE COMMUNITY PRIORITY SETTING CONFERENCE OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING COMMUNITY OF QUEBEC
March 25, 2012, Montreal, Quebec
WHEREAS we reaffirm the English-speaking Community of Quebec as an integral part of Quebec’s past, present and future, and a fundamental element of Quebec’s and Canada’s culture, history and heritage;
WHEREAS English-speaking Quebecers must have an equal opportunity to fully participate in, and contribute to, the social, cultural, economic, and political life of Quebec;
WHEREAS the Government of Canada is committed to fulfilling its duty to enhance the vitality of linguistic minority communities by supporting and assisting in their development;
WHEREAS the community has identified the following community priorities to ensure a more vital and sustainable future:
ACCESS TO SERVICES IN ENGLISH
Increased access to services and government information in English in all aspects of daily living is a pressing issue. The ability of individuals in our community to make informed decisions depends on our capacity to understand options and implications in English.
Developing relationships by fostering greater collaboration and networking among English-speaking organizations and the broader community, diversifying resources,and sharing and developing expertise will make our communities stronger.
Greater access to employment and educational opportunities and higher levels of bilingualism will support the economic prosperity of English-speaking Quebecers thus improving the resilience of our communities.
IDENTITY AND RENEWAL
Nurturing a strong sense of belonging, expressing our identity, enhancing our visibility, and working towards a Quebec society that embraces diversity will ensure the renewal of our communities.
LEADERSHIP AND REPRESENTATION
Promoting leadership development at all levels, with an emphasis on youth engagement, and encouraging volunteerism will ensure we are an integral part of Quebec and Canadian society.
Healthy institutions are the cornerstone of a dynamic community. Maintaining and supporting existing institutions and establishing new ones will strengthen our communities.
The Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) calls upon our community to:
1. Work individually and collectively in a collaborative environment to develop and implement specific strategies that support these community priorities.
2. Engage with the PSSC to create an action plan for the community based on the priorities identified and validated through the Strategic Priorities Forum process.
3. Solicit all levels of government to consider these community priorities for the purposes of policy and program development in support of the English-speaking community of Quebec. Signed on behalf of the English-speaking community of Quebec, on March 2 5, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec at the conclusion of the Community Priority Setting Conference.
COMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS FROM A NEW MULTI-YEAR OFFICIAL LANGUAGES PLAN TO SUPPORT ENGLISH LINGUISTIC MINORITIES
Inflation is a fact of life for community sector organizations, but federal support is not indexed. For example, $3.77 million is allocated to our community by Canadian Heritage’s Cooperation with the Community Sector program; an amount set in 2008, which corrected for inflation in 2016 should be $4.23 million. The community sector does not have access to cash reserves and lines of credit, so when application decision and fund delivery standards are not met, organizational survival is often at stake. Finally, our community supports the requirement to be accountable for public money, and requests that reporting regimes be rationally designed with the limited capacity of the non-profit sector in mind.
We need to ensure the ESCQ is able to participate as an equal at the national official languages table. This means resources to maintain policy expertise within sectors like youth, women, seniors, arts and culture, heritage, education, literacy, employment, economic development and entrepreneurship and access to justice;
Communities do not function in silos, and are often frustrated when dealing with governments that operate within institutional boundaries. Although much effort is expended in ensuring inter-institutional cooperation and ‘horizontal coordination’, community organizations interfacing with the federal partner on complex priorities are often left frustrated and their needs unmet;
Successive community development plans have underlined the importance of youth who will determine our community’s course and guarantee our collective vitality and development. A more coherent approach to this oft-repeated priority is needed and requires targeted funding.
The inherent diversity of the English-speaking Community of Quebec, and the multiple identities of many of its members must be accounted for by the Government of Canada, which in partnership with the community sector must assist English-speaking cultural communities faced with the challenge of being minorities within linguistic minorities;
Newcomer integration is being conducted by the ESCQ’s community sector and civil society. These activities are being done largely within the rubric of other programs and activities, or through private resources. And not enough attention is being paid by the federal partner to the migration of English-speaking Canadians to Quebec as a method of ensuring community renewal. We propose that the new official language plan:
- Require Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRC) to clearly outline the ‘art of the possible’ related to the attraction and integration of newcomers to English-speaking Quebec;
- Contain a plan to make our community know in the rest of the country and promote migration to Quebec by English-speaking Canadians.
Literacy in general must be approached in the widest possible way, and certainly beyond workplace skill development.
This means not only providing adequate funding, but also including the community as a real partner in research activities, while building internal community research capacity. The new official languages plan should ensure:
- Federally funded research that is able to enhance and support Canada’s official languages should include linguistic dimensions (i.e. oversampling). For example, CMHS housing data, and the labour force survey are excellent sources of data, but of little use because they do not regularly contain a language dimension.
- Statistics Canada must receive discreet funding to fully support its official languages data collection and analysis.
- All federal institutions should have access to a strategic research to support Part VII related research developed in consultation with the community;
Current strategies are built upon priorities, which are in turn usually assigned to specific institutions, who are appropriately resourced. Unfortunately, this leaves institutions not mentioned in official languages’ strategies without resources to fulfill Part VII commitments;
Responsibility for coordinating Canada’s official languages’ strategy must be accompanied by a centralized authority to ensure compliance from federal institutions. This is not a trait of the current approach with relies too heavily on encouraging and promoting coordination;