Departmental Action Plan for Official Languages 2017-2022

4. Official languages governance – Departmental roles and responsibilities

In accord with sections 6.11 to 6.14 of the TBS Policy on Official Languages, the designated units that ensure the coordination of institutional obligations in official languages matters in the Department of Justice are the Human Resources Branch (for Parts IV, V, VI and XI of the OLA) and the Official Languages Directorate (for Part VII). The designated responsible persons are the Senior Advisor, Official Languages, at Human Resources Branch’s Corporate Human Resources Planning, Programs and Systems Division, and the Director and General Counsel of the Official Languages Directorate (OLAD).

4.1 Human Resources Branch

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) is the office of primary interest for implementation of Parts IV, V, VI and XI (section 91) of the OLA, the Official Languages Regulations (Communications with and Services to the Public), and related regulations, policies and directives issued by the Treasury Board (TB) and the Department. The HRB ensures the application of official language requirements in all staffing and classification actions, including application of the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order.

The HRB’s Corporate Human Resources Planning, Programs and Systems Division is responsible for managing, promoting and monitoring the official languages program and for developing policies, directives and other departmental documents pertaining to official languages, including reports to agencies involved in accountability process such as the Public Service Commission (PSC), TBS and PCH. It offers advice and guidance to management and employees to ensure the Department is fulfilling its language obligations. The Division also represents the Department on intra- and inter-departmental official languages committees (Champions Network, Official Languages Steering Committee, among others).

The HRB’s Professional Development Division is responsible for developing, delivering and promoting language training and skills-retention activities that meet individual and organizational learning needs.

4.2 Official Languages Directorate

As a component of the Public Law and Legislative Services Sector, the Official Languages Directorate (OLAD) supports the mission of the Department by providing high-quality legal and policy advice to the government and all departments and agencies in several areas, including official languages and access to Justice.

First, the Justice in Official Languages Team (JOL Team) acts as an office of primary responsibility accountable for the implementation of section 41 of the OLA, specifically by preparing the departmental review for the Annual Report on Official Languages and other outcome reports to Parliament under the auspices of PCH and TBS. As part of this accountability process, the JOL Team works closely with other sectors, particularly the HRB, the Programs Branch, and the Finance and Planning Branch.

The JOL Team also serves as a department-wide reference centre on the application of Part VII of the OLA. In this respect, the JOL Team coordinates the work of collaboration networks, work groups and advisory committees listed below. Moreover, the JOL Team offers strategic advice, performs analyses, designs customized training sessions, and manages a resource centre with documentation, statistics and presentations to inform Justice’s employees about their obligations under Part VII of the OLA.

With regard to Federal Official Languages Strategies pertaining to OLMCs, the JOL Team facilitates feedback from various stakeholders during the development and assessment of policies, programs and services.

Secondly, the OLAD’s Law Team provides the government and all departments and agencies with legal advice on all matters related to language rights, including the OLA. The Law Team is also responsible for developing and coordinating the Attorney General’s position in all cases involving language rights.

With regard to positive measures aimed at helping the federal government meet its commitment under section 41, the OLAD manages the following internal and external coordination and consultation mechanisms:

Advisory Committee on Access to Justice in Both Official Languages
An external committee responsible for maintaining the Department’s ties with organizations in the legal community, including OLMCs.
Departmental Network of Coordinators for the Implementation of Section 41 (Network 41)
An internal network intended to raise awareness among Justice employees of the needs and priorities of OLMCs and to foster information sharing and liaison on departmental matters that affect the vitality of OLMCs and the promotion of English and French in Canadian society. Network 41 contributes to the Department’s leadership on official languages by promoting personalized contact with OLMCs at the regional level and by liaising with Canadian Heritage regional offices. The OLAD manages Network 41 and acts as national coordinator in the implementation of section 41 on behalf of the Department.
Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group (FPT Working Group)
Another external consultation mechanisms for the implementation of section 41 of the OLA. It is co-chaired by the Department of Justice and one representative from a province or territory who is a member of the working group. Its mandate is dedicated to issues related to the implementation of the language provisions of the Criminal Code, in particular Part XVII concerning the language of the accused. The working group’s role is to identify issues on access to justice in both official languages and exchange information on best practices in each of the jurisdictions. The FPT Working Group has close relationships with provinces and territories and also plays an important role in promoting synergy in the establishment of interprovincial collaborative agreements.
Specialized interdepartmental network – Justice and Security Network
The Network of Stakeholders Working in the Field of Justice and Security (Justice and Security Network) is an example of a partnership between several federal institutions about specific issues. The Justice in Official Languages Team will participate in new networks in other areas of activity of the Department of Justice, where applicable.

4.3 Assistant Deputy Attorney General and National Litigation Sector

The Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) is the government’s chief legal advisor in matters affecting litigation by and against the Crown. The ADAG provides substantive and strategic advice to the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Privy Council Office on a wide range of issues arising from the conduct of litigation. The ADAG leads the National Litigation Sector and thus has functional responsibility for anticipated or ongoing litigation involving the Government of Canada. The ADAG also coordinates litigation conducted by legal services units that report to a different departmental assistant deputy minister. In litigation before the federal courts, litigants have the right to use either official language and representatives of the Attorney General of Canada (AGC) must use the official language chosen by the other parties in their written and verbal pleadings (in compliance with Part III).

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