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Section IV: Other Items of Interest

Official Languages

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is committed to the objectives of Canada’s Official Languages Act (OLA) to enhance the vitality and support the development of the English and French linguistic minority communities, and foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian Society

WD's current Action Plan for the Implementation of Section 41 of the OLA (http://www.wd.gc.ca/rpts/strategies/ola/default_e.asp ) is a multi-year plan, covering the period April 2004 to March 2008. Through a number of formal and informal consultations at regional and pan-western levels, including participation in national consultations with the Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs), the academic fields, associations and community stakeholder groups, WD has committed to:

  • Build partnerships to address priorities identified by the OLMC;
  • Provide support to Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs); and
  • Provide support to projects with OLMCs.

Partnerships

Interdepartmental Partnership with the Official Languages Communities (IPOLC)

WD partners with Canadian Heritage (PCH) for the IPOLC. The IPOLC Memorandum of Understanding is intended to encourage new partnerships in the Official Language Minority Community and seek out projects resulting in long-term sustainable community and economic advancements.

In Manitoba, through WD and PCH funding, the Conseil de dveloppement conomique des municipalits bilingues du Manitoba (CDEM) has developed a project involving advancing economic development in Rural Manitoba; assisting and encouraging youth in the bilingual municipalities of Manitoba to develop an entrepreneurial spirit; and building on the International trade links already established to fuel entrepreneurial immigration from France and Belgium along with investments in the Franco-Manitoban economy, both urban and rural.

In Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, WD and PCH have contributed to the Maillardville Revitalization Project. Aimed at revitalizing the commercial and Francophone heritage district of Maillardville in tandem with an Official City Plan review of Maillardville, this project aims to fully prepare the Municipality of Coquitlam for 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games economic opportunities, such as tourism and business attraction.

Government of Canada Action Plan

Through the Government of Canada Action Plan on Official Languages, WD and Industry Canada pool their expertise through an MOU to implement a series of tele-education and tele-learning pilot projects and youth internships in the West. The distance learning pilot projects serve to expand French course content and on-line applications, while the internships serve to establish opportunities for youth to develop skills and labour capacity in their province of residence, as well as to enhance their skills in the minority official language. Under this MOU, resources were made available for a five-year period ending March 31, 2008.

In 2006-2007, WD assisted Francophone organizations across Western Canada in hiring six interns for lengths of time ranging from two to twelve months.

Four major pilot projects in distance tele-education and tele-learning were funded at College Educacentre in British Columbia, Campus St. Jean in Alberta, Le Service fransaskois de formation aux adultes Inc. in Saskatchewan and the College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface in Manitoba. These projects ensure that French speaking people have access to post-secondary education in French regardless of where they are located and cover course and program development, on-line services, e-services (e.g., career counselling, student loans, resources centre), on-line communication tools and training for instructors and staff.

Francophone Economic Development Organizations (FEDOs)

WD continues to provide operating funding to the four FEDOs in order to ensure a high quality range of services to Francophone entrepreneurs and small businesses. This partnership, under the broader umbrella of the Western Canada Business Service Network, continues to be recognized by the Commissioner of Official Languages as a best practice in identifying and meeting the needs of Francophone entrepreneurs and communities across Western Canada.

Project Funding and Support

WD continues to support projects that address economic development issues of OLMCs in each western Canadian region. For example, the Corridor Touristique Francophone de l'Ouest (CTFO) is a pan western FEDO initiative that promotes Francophone tourism in Western Canada. This project promotes attractions, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and the uniqueness of the four western provinces as a tourism destination for Francophones. The targets of the CTFO Action Plan for 2005-2007 have been achieved and discussions are ongoing regarding the renewal of this initiative, within the context of opportunities arising for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Management Priorities

Integration of Human Resources Planning within the Business Planning Process

WD’s Manitoba Region was the pilot region for integrating its human resources (HR) plan with the regional business plan in 2005-2006 and has built on this experience by implementing a succession planning initiative in 2006-2007. All other regions and corporate branches are working towards integrating HR and business plans based on lessons learned from Manitoba’s experience. WD regions and corporate branches report on progress at mid-year and year-end with regard to key deliverables, outputs and outcomes identified in business plans. This same reporting process will apply to HR plans.

Learning Initiative Results

WD developed a Learning Strategy in 2006-2007 that has formed the basis of the department’s learning plan for 2007-2008. WD also signed a MOU with Canada School of Public Service in October 2006 that established an ongoing relationship between WD and the Canada School of the Public Service. Through this unique partnership, WD will enhance its ability to meet the requirements of the new Learning, Training and Development Policy and to demonstrate leadership and “best practices” in the delivery of continuous learning.

With respect to HR Modernization, the following progress was made in 2006-2007:

  • 23 employees completed orientation training;
  • 96 per cent of WD executives and managers completed authority delegation training by the December 31, 2006 deadline and 98 per cent by March 31, 2007; and
  • Employees have been identified and registered on functional specialist training for Information Management and Procurement, Material Management, and Real Property. 100 per cent of IM training has been completed and 66 per cent of Procurement, Material Management and Real Property training has also been completed.

Increasing Accountability and Performance Reporting

WD has developed a web-based information management system complete with working tools for officers handling the full life cycle of Grants and Contributions projects. The system is called Project Gateway and has been tailored to WD’s programs through in-house development.

Project Gateway provides the mechanism for consistent assessment of client proposals, risk analysis, the automatic generation of approval forms for sign off by the delegated authority and the automatic generation of WD’s standard Contribution Agreement. Though this system WD has improved its internal controls, efficiency, transparency and accountability. The resulting database of project information is readily available across the department for reference and reporting purposes.

Development of Project Gateway during the last fiscal year has produced a performance reporting module. This section provides the tools to capture project results against performance indicators established for each project at the time of assessment. Standard performance indicators align with WD’s Program Activity Architecture and the results captured can be readily analyzed, compiled and reported. Through this new module WD has demonstrated a commitment to accountability through an enhanced focus on project results and a mechanism to facilitate informed decision making in the future.

WD also continues to work with member of the Western Canada Business Service Network to strengthen their accountability, clarify performance expectations, and encourage greater collaboration among various members to improve services provided to businesses and communities.

Project Officer Training to Improve Due Diligence

A pan-western team developed and coordinated project development and assessment training in each of the four regions. The purpose of the officer training sessions was twofold: 1) to educate, reaffirm and refresh the work of managers and officers related to project development and assessment; and 2) to establish and maintain a consistent level of due diligence across the department. Planning for the officer training began in June 2005, and training sessions occurred in each region throughout the months of April and May 2006; at least one session will be offered each year.

Progress in Implementation of Management Accountability Framework (MAF)

WD places the advancement of its implementation of the Management Accountability Framework (MAF) as a high priority.  Building on strengths noted in past MAF Assessments, the department continues to address all ten essential elements of the MAF and, within that context, has placed particular emphasis on Internal Audit, Evaluation, Values and Ethics.

The department has created and staffed the position of Director General, Audit, Evaluation and Ethics, a position intended to reflect the department’s requirement for greater emphasis on accountability, transparency and ethical behaviour.  In addition, WD has formed a Management Accountability Committee (MAC), a committee of senior departmental officials with a mandate to develop and implement a WD management accountability action plan.

Integrated Risk Management (IRM)

The IRM Steering Committee is responsible for: ensuring the effectiveness of corporate risk management by maintaining organizational focus; introducing senior executive accountabilities; supervising the development of risk mitigation strategies for key program and corporate risks; and participating in the preparation and execution of business continuity plans. RBAF’s are currently in place for all programs with audit and monitoring work driven by the program risk assessment.

In 2006-2007, the IRM Steering Committee successfully implemented a number of initiatives including:

  • Completion of a Department Corporate Risk Profile and Strategic Risk Assessment;
  • Introduction of integrated risk management statements in key department documents such as the corporate and regional business plans, Report on Plans and Priorities, Departmental Performance Report, Operating Framework, Grants & Contributions Framework, and the Other Government Departments Framework;
  • Development of WD Business Continuity Plan; and
  • Development of systemic and responsive risk mitigation tools and strategies for key program and corporate risks.