Government of Canada
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A joint working group for the development of the Acadian and Francophone community

Véronique Duguay
Translation Services
Government of Prince Edward Island

2013-04-15

In 2009, recognizing the value of linguistic duality and of a flourishing Francophonie, the Government of Prince Edward Island, in response to a request from the province's Acadian and Francophone community, committed to undertaking a joint project, together with the community, to plan the development of the Island's Francophone community. To deliver this project, a joint working group (JWG) was established—a first‑ever initiative of this type for Canada.

The JWG was therefore given the mandate to design a development plan for the Acadian and Francophone community of Prince Edward Island. The objective of this plan: to contribute to the vitality of the Acadian and Francophone community and to highlight the community's contribution to the development of Prince Edward Island. To fulfill its mandate, the JWG had a team composed of five government officials from key priority sector departments and five representatives from the Acadian and Francophone community appointed by the Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, the umbrella coordinating and representative organization of the Acadian and Francophone community.

During its 18 months of operation, from July 2009 to January 2011, the JWG inquired into the priority issues and needs of the Acadian and Francophone community through public and internal consultations. It also studied the internal and external environments of the government and of the Acadian and Francophone community. Through its work, the JWG was able to identify the priority issues common to both the provincial government and the Acadian and Francophone community, and then decide what strategic targets to set and what areas of action to focus on during planning.

As a result of its work, the JWG proposed a development plan incorporating three fields of action: demographics; partnership and collaboration; and government services. Each field of action includes strategic orientations: post-secondary education; employability; bilingual human resources; migration, immigration and integration; volunteer workforce; identity building; development of the Francophone community; Francophone institutions; and French language services. An objective is proposed for each orientation, and strategic actions are recommended to meet these objectives.

The plan proposes a total of 48 strategic actions, 33 of which are to be implemented jointly by the government and the Acadian and Francophone community, 8 by the government alone, and 7 by the community. This distribution of responsibilities demonstrates the willingness of both parties to continue working together to develop the Francophone community. It should be noted that the JWG also recommended that the implementation of the strategic actions be coordinated at the government level by the Acadian and Francophone Affairs Secretariat, at the community level by the Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin, and at the joint level by the Acadian and Francophone Community Advisory Committee—an organization that is made up of members of the Acadian and Francophone community and that provides advice to the government through the minister responsible for Acadian and Francophone Affairs.

The creation of the JWG enabled a close collaboration between the Government of Prince Edward Island and the province's Acadian and Francophone community, and thus made it possible to put together a coordinated development plan. As a result of this collaborative planning process, the JWG was able to propose solutions to align the priority needs of the Acadian and Francophone community with the government's priority strategies, taking into account community, economic and government contexts. It should be noted, however, that implementation of the plan will require many years of ongoing work.

Source: [Translation] report from the Acadian and Francophone Community–Government of Prince Edward Island Joint Working Group.