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;
Report of the Priority Setting Steering Committee related to the 2018 Community Consultation
Dear QCGN Members and Community Stakeholder Groups,
During QCGN’s annual meeting on June 15-16, our Network and Community celebrated the federal government’s recently released Action Plan for Official Languages which delivered on our Network request for a dedicated development fund for community organizations working with vulnerable English-speaking minority communities in Quebec.
The Federal Government’s Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future increases funding available for organizations serving English-speaking Quebec and established a $5-million development fund to help our community organizations find sustainable ways to deliver services to English speakers in various regions and sectors.
As English-speaking Quebec’s official interlocutor with the Federal Department of Canadian Heritage, the QCGN was asked to identify core principles and priorities of action for the distribution of the additional funding being made through the new development fund and the Cooperation with the Community Sector – Development of Official Languages program.
It is my privilege to submit the Report of the Priority Setting Steering Committee related to the 2018 Community Consultation*. This report reflects the principles and priorities of action set by the English-speaking Community of Quebec related to additional funding allocated to the Department of Official Languages through the Government of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages – 2018-2023: Investing in Our Future. However, we invite all supporting stakeholders at all levels of government to take special note of this report’s contents, which are broad in scope, ambitious in scale, and dependent on collaboration between the community sector and public partners.
We are especially thankful to the 67 community sector organizations that took the time this summer to complete our survey and participate in a series of five focus groups. We are also grateful to the volunteers of the PSSC, and community leaders who helped interpret data collected through our broad community consultation.
Our Committee, which has been serving English-speaking Quebec since 2011, is far from finished its work! We are now looking at ways to ensure the community has a greater say in how public money is distributed, and how we can most effectively manage the growth of our community sector to service the needs of English-speaking communities across Quebec. As always, we will not be able to complete this work without the community’s active input, so stay tuned!
Gerald Cutting, Chair
Priority Setting Steering Committee
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*Annexes available to participants and researchers upon request. Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Priority Setting Steering Committee
Mandate of the Committee
The Priority Setting Steering Committee (PSSC) is a Standing Committee of the QCGN. Its purpose is to undertake a community consultation process to collect, analyze, prioritize and articulate the needs, the issues and the community priorities of Quebec’s English-speaking community and its constituents. Reconstituted in the summer of 2018, the PSSC is currently tasked with consulting and coming up with priorities for new funding under the federal government’s Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-23 that includes a new $5-million development fund for community organizations working with Quebec’s English-speaking minority communities.
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;