Language Policy HACKATHON REPORT
“Increasingly government, having set the policy agenda and determined the budgetary allocations, needs to become the ‘strategic commissioner’ of services purchased from a public economy.
In order to encourage innovation, the design and delivery of those services needs to be undertaken via increased collaboration between non-government providers and public servants.”
- Peter Shergold, 2011; p. 5.
Eliana Trinaistic MCIS Language Solutions
Niha Shahzad Policy Innovation Initiative
SUPPORTED BY THE CORE TEAM:
PII 2018-19 Directors:
Monica Trott, Joshua Cho, Sarah Howe, Muhammad Khalil
MCIS Language Solutions:
Carolina Alfaro Carvalho
Lorrayne G. Camper, MA
Susana De La Torre
Anna Zhang, Scarborough Storefront
Miyadah Subrati, Scarborough Storefront
Gabriel Allahdua, Justice for Migrant Workers
THE TECH: David Dou, Data & Analytics Consultant
Catherine Manson, Flemingdon Community Legal Services
Craig Carter-Edwards, WelcomeHomeTO
Grace Eagan, Ontario Council on Community Interpreting (OCCI)
Jennifer Chan, Department of Imaginary Affairs
Khaled Islaih, Smart Diversity
Mathura Mahendren, Department of Imaginary Affairs
Monica Franklin, MCIS Language Solutions Board Member
Sally Ahmed, Lifeline Syria
Aurelia Klimkiewicz, Glendon College, York University
Nadia Caidi, ISchool, University of Toronto
| Language Policy Hackathon Report
Pii & MCIS
Ikem Opara, Strategy Lead, Connected People, Ontario Trillium Foundation
Alexandre C. Cuvelier, Senior Translator to the Premier, Cabinet Office
Jackie Rancourt, Ministry of Labour
Laetitia Walbert, Linguistic Advisor, Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities
Myra Khan, Senior Policy and Program Analyst at Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
THE KEYNOTE: Minsook Lee, Filmmaker
FACILITATOR: Rajesh Sankat
Sarah Howe, Pii Analyst & MPP Candidate 2020
Joshua Cho, Pii Analyst & MPP Candidate 2020
Monica Trott, Pii Analyst & MPP Candidate 2020
David Wood, MPP candidate 2020
Natalie Gdyczynski, MPP Candidate 2020
Vienna O’Shea, MPP Candidate 2020
Kristi Kodama, MPP Candidate 2020
Saif Hussein, MPP Candidate 2020
Antona Christus-Ranjan, MPP Candidate 2019
Special thanks to:
Gillian Perera, Scarborough Storefront
Lola Bendana, Multi-Languages Corporation, OCCI Chair
Mounir Nasri, Agincourt Community Services
Special thanks to Verne Ross from the Centre for Indigenous Studies, University of Toronto for leading the opening and closing ceremonies and reviewing relevant elements of this report.
We acknowledge that the land where this gathering took place is on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.
Editors: Sanah Matadar, Veronica Costea
Language access is a complex topic and one that is highly volatile. On the one hand, the views on language access are constantly changing and evolving due to changes in migration patterns or technology. On the other hand, they remain fundamentally grounded in the concept of nationhood.
The scope of language rights is determined by a large number of international documents: the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (1996), the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1998), the Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960), as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). The foundational piece, however, was provided in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, articles 2, 10, 19 and 26, that defined “the right to have the interpreter translate the proceedings, including court documents” and “the right to freedom of expression, including the right to choose any language as the medium of expression.”
In Canada, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) granted linguistic rights to the French and English language communities as well as "the right to the assistance of an interpreter" (article 14). On the other hand, the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988) recognized Canada's multicultural heritage, Aboriginal rights and "that other languages may be used" for "minorities to enjoy their cultures." Recently, the Government co-developed the National First Nations, Inuit and Métis Languages Act (Bill C-91), which recognizes Indigenous languages more widely. The Act received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.
However, other issues beyond existing legislative frames, such as employment, demographics, migration, health, climate change, literacy and aging are continuously increasing the complexities of language-facilitated access to critical information and services, inadvertently impacting the sense of well-being of individuals and communities.
In order to facilitate collaboration among key players in the area of language-facilitated access to social services and to have a much broader conversation about a more inclusive language access infrastructure (people, data, evidence, technology, training, processes, policies, regulations), we set out to explore a range of questions, from "how do we engage community leaders in the mental health process to build a trusted source for services in culturally sensitive situations?" to "how do we increase newcomer voter turnout among immigrants?" and many others in between.
This Report puts forth three common recommendations from the 21 insights that were put forth by participants for policymakers working to improve language access:
Cultural competency training for service providers and first responders
More funding and support for interpretation and translation services
Better neighbourhood and community support (e.g. language appropriate workshops, neighbourhood hubs, public health visits to seniors)
We present you with these recommendations as members of a rather informal citizens' coalition of practitioners, non -profits, academia, government and policy professionals, as well as other interested groups and individuals, and invite you to contribute to, refine and expand our findings.
If you have an idea for a much needed simple solution-focused language access initiative, please submit it here so we can continue this conversation!
Table of Content
Key Federal Policies in Canada
Language Policy Areas
Education and Job Training
Immigration and Refugee Services
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Services
Legal Information and Services
Translation and Interpretation Services
News and Media Services
Appendix I: Empathy Journey (Language Access Personas)
Health Care Persona
Education and Job Training Persona
Immigration and Refugee Services Persona
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Services Persona
Legal Information and Services Persona
Translation and Interpretation Services Persona
News and Media Services Persona
Appendix II: Policy Innovation Orientation Package
Appendix III: Participants' Feedback
Senator Ratna Omidvar, a keynote speaker at the National Conversation on Immigration Conference in London, UK
25 per cent. The figure marking the near percentage of working Canadian immigrants in 2016.
60 per cent. The country’s 2016 increase in employment of 1st generation immigrants joining the Canadian work force.
To anyone ambivalent about the role of immigration in the Canadian economy, we must ask: how would we manage without immigration? In 2018 the Conference Board of Canada estimated that
by 2034, immigration will account for 100 per cent of population growth as the number of deaths in Canada is expected to exceed births.
without immigration, Canada’s potential economic growth would slow from 1.9 per cent to an average of 1.3 per cent annually.
in a no-immigration world, 26.9 per cent of the population would be 65 and over by 2040.
Yet, even for those in support of immigration in Canada—who see it as a way of contributing to the nation's economy and making the world a better place—we must ask: what are we doing to confront assimilation and replace it with meaningful participation in civil society?
For instance, are these new immigrants adequately aware of their labour rights? Do they know where to go to access support services or access any relevant critical information? Do they fully comprehend the local news and media that surrounds them daily?
On January 31, 2019, the Policy Innovation Initiative (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto) and MCIS Language Solutions partnered to bring together the non-profit, academic, and policy communities for a Language Policy Hackathon, dubbed online as #languagehack.
As Canada is to undertake a review of the Official Languages Act later in the year, the first of its kind, the purpose of this Hackathon was to connect members of the Toronto community from all walks of life and occupations to find priority areas that could be embedded in the Official Languages Act as well as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act to provide an input toward the type of language access that communities need.
Recognizing that culture and language are key to the accessibility of critical information and services for all, not only for marginalized communities, the idea was to specifically use language as a tool for embedding empathy and cultural awareness into policy making for all forms of government decision regarding access to services.
Prior to the event, community participants were given access to two online webinars that introduced key concepts such as policy innovation and hackathon. They were also surveyed for the organizers to understand their prior knowledge, motivation and expectations.
MCIS staff participated in four one hour in-person lunch and learns, exploring the topics of traditional policy making, citizen engagement and a brief history of Canadian language policy.
On the day of the event, following a presentation of the research done by Pii students on Canadian language policy, the hackathon participants, divided into groups, took part in a journey-mapping workshop facilitated by Rajesh Sankat, a representative of Ontario Cabinet Office.
As part of the workshop, groups were given proto-personas of individuals in a driving with cannabis scenario, and asked to develop values for these personas.
Groups were then led into mapping journeys for their personas, asked to identify opportunities where policies could intervene and help.
"I have always maintained that whilst immigration is a global and national phenomena, integration is a uniquely local experience.
People may leave one country for another, but it is the local experience that will be felt first hand. I am talking not just of the newcomers. I believe that the conversation about integration and inclusion has to shift to include three players – first the newcomers, second all existing residents in the local community, and third local institutions.
These are the groups that help or hinder integration."
In the afternoon, 7 language policy areas were explored:
Education and Job Training
Immigration and Refugee Services
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
Legal Information and Services
Translation and Interpretation Services
News and Media
*NOTE: Each of these policy areas covered a section on how they vary for Indigenous communities.
Using skills gained and practiced during the morning's proto-persona and policy development workshop, participants created new personas, envisioning individuals whose language-access journey would be followed throughout the system. In addition, the participants discussed:
How Might We Statements: How Might we [improve/reduce or increase/decrease an action] for [user group] to achieve [outcome], and
Five Priority Areas for government to focus on.
Finally, every participant voted what they thought the top 3 priorities should be for each policy area.
The day ended with individuals sharing and reviewing the ways in which innovative policy solutions can be created.
Latha Sukumar, Executive Director, MCIS Language Solutions
"It is important for political authorities to better understand the difficulties and expectations of end users of services. And of course, it is absolutely essential for civil society to have a better idea of how public money is spent and where the limits and opportunities for service providers and the non-profit sector are. In particular, with respect to how we are going to interact with end users in the future, we needed to bring them in to ask some crucial questions about what works and why."
Discussions on language rights and debate over official and minority languages in Canada are supported by a few key pieces of federal legislation that form the backbone of Canadian language policy.
The Constitution Act (1867): Established English and French as languages that could be used in the debates of the Parliament of Canada, as well as in courts in Canada and in Québec.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982): As part of the broader charter addressing the rights of all Canadian residents, the Charter recognized the importance of official language rights.
The Charter established English and French speakers with equal status, rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada;
It also confirms minority language educational rights for English-speaking children in the province of Québec and French-speaking children in the rest of Canada;
Section 14 of the Charter also outlines the right of any person in a legal proceeding who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted, or a person who is deaf, to the assistance of an interpreter.
The Official Languages Act (1969): The cornerstone to federal language policy, most recently revised in 2005, the Act has undergone several changes over the years, expanding its substance and scope. The federal government has been conducting a review of the Act since 2018.
Applies to all federal government institutions and the services they provide;
Does not apply to private businesses or provinces/territories;
Does not account for non-official languages;
Ensures respect for English and French and ensures equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in federal institutions;
Supports the development of English and French linguistic minority communities; and
Advances the equal status and use of English and French.
Co-design: Collaborative Design
"An approach to designing services and system responses that attempts to actively involve all relevant stakeholders in the design process to help ensure the result meets their needs and is usable. Stakeholders involved will differ depending on the issue being tackled, but in the child and family service space it is likely to include children, their families, front-line staff (NGO and government), contract managers, other government staff, NGO service providers, advocacy groups, and peak bodies." (Commissioning for Outcomes An Industry-Led Approach, CSIA)
Language Access Infrastructure
Includes people (service providers and users), service design, generated data/evidence, technologies as well as training, processes, policies, and regulations that are helping citizens to optimize the quality and effectiveness of language access projects, while minimizing costs and keeping projects on schedule.
Common use: languages spoken by cultural minority communities; English in a French-majority, or French in an English-majority region or an Indigenous/First Nations/Inuit/Métis language that is not officially recognized.
Official language of minority communities - For instance, English-speaking communities in Québec and French-speaking communities in the rest of Canada. (More than 2M Canadians belong to an official language minority community)
Unofficial languages - any language other than English or French.
Language Hackathon use: refers to a language spoken by a person or group of people who primarily speak a language that is not English or French.
Typically, a hackathon is an event where computer programmers, engineers and other technology experts collaborate on the development of new software or applications. Similarly, a policy hackathon would bring in a mix of stakeholders to a user-driven, facilitated policy workshop and discussion. By using their collective intelligence and design thinking for problems being identified, policy-users and policy makers are asked to create collaborative solutions. "Similar to a technology hackathon, a PoliHack (policy hackathon) is an exercise in collaborative policy development and engagement that is driven by participation from experts across multiple sectors, working with diverse expertise and research to solve policy challenges." (Mitacs)
Key Federal Language Policies in Canada
"Our languages are central to our ceremonies, to our lands, the animals, to relationships with each other, our understandings, of our worlds, including the natural world, our stories and our laws."
Legislation on official language policy
Official Languages Act
Ministry or department responsible for language policy
Commissioner of Official Languages
An Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick
Language policies affecting businesses and private citizens
Inuit Language Protection Act
French is required for some businesses, no French is required by law for private citizens
French Language Services Act
Charter of the French Language “Bill 101”
Office of Acadian Affairs & Office of Gaelic Affairs
Languages Commissioner for Nunavut
Office of Francophone Affairs
Office Québécois de la langue française
Inuit Language Protection Act & Education Act
National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Opening Remarks to the Federal -Provincial - Territorial Ministers Responsible for Culture and Heritage, Orford, Québec. August 22, 2017
While language policy is a huge part of Canada’s national identity, it is specific to the promotion of Canada’s official languages, English and French. Federal protection of Indigenous culture, including Indigenous languages, is often included in Indigenous legislation.
In addition, broad legislation addressing the rights of minority language speakers and policy issues surrounding language barriers for people who may have a hard time communicating in English or French does not currently exist in Canada.
Language Legislation Across Provinces
Not every province directly addresses language policy; and policies are often tailored to address minority French/English/Indigenous language speakers.
To note, Nunavut has made Inuit languages official provincial language along with English and French, the only province or territory to identify an Indigenous/First Nations/ Metis/Inuit language as an official language.
Non-Official Languages in Canada
Language rights for English and French speakers, as well as Indigenous languages, are ongoing debates in Canada. The rights of people who primarily speak another language are partially addressed through Canada’s multiculturalism policy.
Canada’s Multiculturalism Policy directs the Government of Canada to preserve and enhance multiculturalism by promoting the recognition of Canada’s ethno-cultural diversity.
Canada has officially mandated multiculturalism, and it is also broadly accepted as an inherent part of being Canadian. A common question heard in Canada is “Where are you from?” or “Where is your family from?” as a considerable number of Canadians have an immigrant background—something that is widely celebrated and accepted. Respecting minority languages is a key part of Canada’s approach to multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is also preserved in the Charter, Section 27:
“This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.”
The Official Languages Act encourages the full participation of all Canadians in every aspect of Canadian society.
We can see here the trends in first language for newcomer communities in Canada.
However, this does not mean that individuals are not fluent in English or French, simply that it is not their first language.
2016: Non-Official Languages Outnumber French as a Mother Tongue in Most Provinces in Canada
From Statistics Canada
"This is a pull quote to help the reader stay interested and focused."
Ministry of Health and partner ministries
- Prescription drug regulation - Health services for eligible First Nations people and Inuit - Public health insurance coverage for the members of the Canadian armed forces, veterans, inmates in federal penitentiaries - Health services for eligible refugee claimants
- Ministries of Health, Social Services, Children and Youth - Community Services, Senior Citizens - Provincial health networks (ex-Ontario Local Health Integration Networks) - Hospitals, community based health services, private doctor practices, free clinics
- Funding and administering health care - Patient pathways vary considerably depending on the province or territory of residents
Language problems are cited as the 3rd most difficult barrier to healthcare for new immigrants.
The Federal government has jurisdiction over prescription drug regulation and safety, the financing and administration of a range of health benefits and services for eligible First Nations people and Inuit, and public health insurance coverage for members of the Canadian armed forces, veterans, inmates in federal penitentiaries, and eligible refugee claimants.
Provinces are responsible for funding and administering healthcare and as such, patient pathways vary considerably depending on the province or territory of residents.
Models of service provision vary in size, resources, capacity, local majority language, population make-up, population density, urban/rural location, proportion/diversity of non-official language speakers.
In Ontario, 14 Local Health Integration Networks [LHINs] are responsible for planning and delivering health services, including hospitals and community care, at the regional level. With the 2019 announcement of the Ontario Health Team, however, this might soon see changes. In terms of healthcare interpretation services in Ontario, there is no provincially coordinated interpretation service through the Government of Ontario.
Individual organizations and health authorities seek to implement language interpretation services and improve access for patients. Many organizations that offer free interpretation services to patients absorb the costs at their own expense. For example, in the GTA, the Healthcare Interpretation Network works to standardize delivery of interpretation services through professionalizing interpretation.
The healthcare landscape in Canada is broad, and includes a large number of stakeholders: healthcare providers, administrators, government policy-makers, human rights bodies, communities, advocacy or consumer groups, training institutions, entrepreneurs, and members of First Nations, immigrant and deaf communities.
Since healthcare impacts everyone, this issue impacts all minority language speakers. In fact, up to 25% of new Canadians mentioned language barriers as a key problem in accessing healthcare services in their first six months in Canada.
In the case of healthcare services, we must keep in mind Canada’s aging population. Aging Canadians may face new language barriers they had not previously experienced.
This includes aging immigrant populations, who may be losing their English/French language skills as they age.
Similarly, aging Indigenous populations who have an Indigenous language as their mother tongue and don’t speak English/French may be in need of more medical care as they age.
Finally, hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition in older adults and its prevalence rises with age – 46 per cent of people aged 45 to 87 are reported to have hearing loss, according to the Canadian Hearing Society.
According to a Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, 24% of immigrants cite language problems as an obstacle to healthcare six months after arrival.
The How of Healthcare Services
1. Healthcare Services
The Official Languages Health Contribution Program (Networks,Training and Access to Health Services) funnels $174.3M to support language services in healthcare.
It supports a three-pronged strategy for official language minority communities:
Integrating Health Professionals works with post-secondary institutions to increase the supply of bilingual health professionals available to serve these communities.
Strengthening Local Health Networking Capacity operate as community-based entities to build capacity to affect change in the healthcare system with a view to improving access to health services within these communities.
Health Services Access and Retention Projects promotes, through specific initiatives, better integration of and improved access to health services for these communities.
Issues facing First Nations and Indigenous Persons
Language barriers to healthcare for Indigenous peoples are part of a larger system of cultural barriers. Many Indigenous individuals rely on services from outside their community. A lack of cultural competence in a healthcare setting or prevalence of cultural tensions often requires the to get their own interpreters.
Many First Nations/Indigenous/Inuit/ Métis persons do not have access to healthcare services in their primary language.
Indigenous Canadians who speak their cultural tongue are more likely to be connected to their culture, improving their well-being.
A cultural disconnect corresponds to bad health outcomes, including poor mental health outcomes.
A lack of culturally competent service providers furthermore contributes to a lack of faith in the Canadian healthcare system.
New federal funding to improve access to health services in minority communities, in millions
The figure on the left shows the federal funding for healthcare administration in Canada (News release).
Interpretations Service/ Program
Language Services Toronto (Toronto Central LHIN)
Language Services Toronto Program
Discounted rates for telephone interpretation for healthcare organizations
Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH)
Centre for Addiction & Mental Health Interpretation Services, Toronto
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
Hospital for Sick Children Interpretation Services, Toronto
On-site interpretation services for health care, over-the-phone interpretation services
William Osler Health System
William Osler Health System Interpretation Services, Brampton, Etobicoke
Telephone interpretation services
Barriers to Healthcare Services for First Nations and Indigenous Communities
Unavailability of trained indigenous languages speaking interpreters outside of major urban centers.
Limited research on need for indigenous language interpretation for quality services.
The Issues in Healthcare Interpretation Services
Language barriers to healthcare include direct and indirect effects. Direct effects are those felt by patients and their families. Indirect effects are broader effects on the community, professionals, and the public service system as a whole.
Minority language patients go to the emergency room instead of a primary care physician.
Patients delay seeking treatment, compared to those who have stronger English/French skills.
Doctors are overly cautious treating patients they cannot communicate with.
Family members without expert knowledge become interpreters, which may result in
emotional pressure and stress on family members, especially minors.
ethical concerns and lack of ability to translate medical jargon.
adverse health effects due to limited proficiency in English/French.
Exclusion of ethno-cultural groups from medical research leads to generalized results that may only apply to language/cultural majority populations.
Healthcare service providers face challenges in meeting standards of care when they cannot communicate effectively with patients.
Physicians face increased risk of liability, and may be overly cautious in treating these patients.
Possible cost increases due to adverse health outcomes and increased service utilization by patients and physicians.
Interpretation Services in the GTA for Healthcare
2. Education & Job Training
First Nations and Indigenous Persons Education and Job Training
The funding for First Nations education and job training is provided by Employment and Social Development Canada and Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities that fund the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (AETS) as well as the Aboriginal Skills and Partnership Fund. In addition, the Aboriginal Institute also partnered with Ontario Colleges and Universities to expand job training for Indigenous communities.
Other funding bodies, such as Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage and Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Affairs also fund programs such as the post-secondary students support program, offer Indigenous bursaries and support Aboriginal language infinitives as well as the Ontario Indigenous Education Strategy.
Education and Job Training - What are the Issues?
In 2016, 25% of the Canadian workforce was made up of immigrants.
The Ministry of Education, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Workplace Safety and Insurance Board - all fund ELL programs, administer return to work for disabled workers, and provide training for adult newcomers.
However, there are issues, especially in rural Ontario.
For example, Return to Work Programs (RTW) by Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) reported that the lack of English proficiency tends to prevent workers from reporting occupational health issues and language barriers hinder labour market re-entry.
General issues in education and job training:
Lack of access to and funding for ELL programs, particularly in schools with low ELL enrollment.
Language barriers hampering job training program delivery for newcomers belonging to linguistic minorities.
In Ontario 25% of students identify as English Language Learners (2013) while only 38% of elementary schools have ESL teachers.
76% of schools that have fewer than 10 ELL students do not have an ELL teacher.
Funding per student: approx $4000.
- Ministry of Education Immigration - Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) - Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
- Funding ELL programs and instructors - Funding English language learning and job training programs for adult newcomers - Administering return-to-work programs for disabled workers - Health services for eligible refugee claimants
- Identifying ELL students - Carrying out ELL curriculum
- Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) - Immigration services agencies
- Advocating for the needs of immigration service agencies - Hub for English learning and job training -Carrying out programs for immigrants
Barriers to Education and Job Training for First Nations and Indigenous Communities
Lack of employment opportunities for Indigenous people, particularly for those moving to or already residing in urban areas
Lack of program development to advance Indigenous language preservation and revitalization
- Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services - Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- Settlement services offered in newcomers' languages - Specialized supports with trauma counseling and mental health services
- Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centers - Charity Village - LOFT Community Services - YMCA
- Health and Wellness - Mental Health Programs - Crisis Intervention/ Healing Services - Family Violence Healing Programs
INDIGENOUS AND NEWCOMER COMMUNITIES
- Ministry of Indigenous Affairs - Saskatchewan Intercultural Association - Kairos Canada
- "Indigenizing settlement" initiatives - Indigenous - Newcomer Friendship gatherings - Matchmaking programs for new immigrants in indigenous communities
Ontario is home to 40% of all permanent migrants to Canada with 49% of Toronto residents identifying as visible minorities.
Government, particularly the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, is providing various services for newcomers, including counseling and mental health.
Various non-profits, such as Charity Village and YMCA, offer services that include mental health and wellness programs. In other provinces settlement organizations are working on fostering relationships between Indigenous people and newcomers to integrate the knowledge about indigenous communities into the welcoming process for newcomers.
3. Immigration and Refugee Services/ Indigenizing Settlement
Issues recognized by First Nations and Indigenous Persons in the Context of Immigration and Newcomer Agenda
Similar perceptions of each other's group but fewer opportunities to meet and work with individuals from the immigrant community.
Some with strong views on both groups being in competition for housing, jobs and services.
Elders and community leaders being the most understanding of similarities between the two groups and most willing to encourage getting to know each other.
Barriers to Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian Multicultural Discourse
Very few agencies are tailoring to inclusion of Indigenous agenda in newcomer welcoming services (particularly in respect to themes of common colonization and systemic oppression).
Limited funding by various levels of government to encourage dialogue between Indigenous and immigrant communities (via arts, culture, and language learning).
Limited support for Indigenous languages fluency in Canada.
Current immigration programs in Canada are offered thorough several categories:
The Skilled Worker category is a popular visa program intended for people with high levels of skills and experience.
Canadian Business Immigration is specially designed to attract skilled business people to Canada.
The Provincial Nominee Program helps employers in several provinces to meet their needs by hiring migrant workers.
Family Immigration programs represent 40% of the annual immigration to Canada under the family reunion and refugee program category.
Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker program is a program where employers can hire immigrants for labour and skill shortages, particularly in resource-heavy industries such as agriculture.
Immigration and Social Services - What are the Issues?
The study “Making Ontario Home” by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) noted that the top four settlement and integration challenges reported by respondents were: finding employment (61.8%); limited English language skills (32.7%); social isolation (26.5%); and finding housing (23.4%). More than 83% of the respondents had used one or more settlement support services and 54.7% used language training programs and services particularly because language is seen as the biggest discriminatory factor in hiring.
Yet the top reasons for not accessing services were identified as:
Not needing assistance (36.5%).
Not knowing about availability of services (29.9%).
As Canada is committed to bringing in upwards of 350,000 immigrants over the next 3 years it is obvious that more services, including language, will be needed in the near future.
4. Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
Barriers to Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Communities
Low confidence in the police
Disproportionate incarceration rates
Insufficient education about the history, laws, local organizations, cultural/ spiritual practices, unique challenges of Indigenous communities, and the realities of specific geographic regions/settings.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls identified “mandatory Indigenous language capacity within police services" as one of the key strategies.
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement - What Are the Issues?
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to an interpreter for a party or witness who does not understand or speak the language of a court proceeding. Faced with an influx of defendants with an inadequate understanding of English/French, many provinces have been struggling for years to deal with the shortage of interpreters.
Failing to provide quality court interpretation services could be costly. In some provinces and territories crown prosecutors reported convictions being set aside or proceedings stayed because of an inability to provide quality interpreter services. In some jurisdictions, civil litigation has been commenced to seek compensation for an inability to access quality court interpretation services.
The Supreme Court of Canada recognized that people who belong to a racialized community and people who live in low-income areas often have more negative contacts with the police than other people. The cross-Canada round tables focusing on transformation of Canada’s criminal justice system identified a concern with the disproportionately high numbers of vulnerable and marginalized people in the criminal justice system. For instance, the Indigenous population that accounts for roughly 5 per cent of Canada’s total population represented 27 per cent of its prison population in 2016-2017.
To ease the pressure on courts, 115 new recruits have been added to the province’s interpreter registry since 2014, while 106 interpreters have upgraded their accreditation status to meet court requirements.
The key issues identified are:
Need for more frequent and successful interactions between police and interpreters; miscommunication worsens relations between law enforcement and vulnerable populations.
Need to meet demands for different languages despite rapid fluctuations in immigration patterns that change the list of languages available.
Need to address the precarious nature of interpreters' work.
Issues Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Persons
There are two main types of policing agreements in Canada: Self-administered Police Service Agreements, where a First Nation or Inuit community manages its own police service under provincial policing, and Community Tripartite Agreements, where a dedicated contingent of officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provides policing.
In 2018, the Government of Canada created a new program, Funding for First Nation and Inuit Policing Facilities, investing in buildings, health and safety standards.
However, as no budget is allocated to culturally and linguistically appropriate practices, systemic racism as well as discrimination against Indigenous peoples remains a serious issue.
- Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade (Ontario) - Ministry of the Attorney General - Toronto Police Services
- Language Interpreter Services (LIS) for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking - Court interpreters - 9-1-1 available in 150 languages in Toronto
- Legal Aid - Student Legal Aid Services Societies
- Legal representation for low-income individuals in courts
INDIGENOUS and NEWCOMER COMMUNITIES
- Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) - Friendship Centres
- Aboriginal Justice Strategy - Courtworkers - Community Justice Program
The police and courtroom officials interacting with victims, witnesses, and with persons committing crimes use some of the following tools in the context of multilingualism:
Language Interpreter Services (LIS) - for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence or human trafficking. As a program of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, interpretation services are available free of charge in communities across Ontario 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in over 70 spoken languages. Interpreter services are also available for deaf persons who use American Sign Language (ASL) or Langue des signes Québécoise (LSQ)
9-1-1 also provides initial contact in 150 languages
Improving Legal Aid and Access to Justice, TVO, The Agenda
The right to an interpreter was developed through common law and is supported in numerous federal statutes and the Constitution of Canada. Section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: "A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter." Judicial interpretation of s. 14 specifies certain limitations (see: Cormier v. Fournier, 1986) for the purposes of distinguishing between the language of a “party” and the language of a lawyer, especially in lower court jurisprudence.
Lawyers and legal professionals interacting with, in many cases, low-income individuals with limited official languages proficiency in Ontario, use Legal Aid Ontario's certificate program that allows eligible, low-income Ontarians to have full representation by their own lawyer. These groups, sometimes called "marginalized" groups, are also often racialized, live in remote locations, and typically cannot hire a lawyer to ensure that the system will operate in their favour.
Census data collected between 1996 and 2016 found that the number of people without knowledge of either official language has increased by more than 175,000 in Canada over the past 20 years, although it remained proportional as a percentage, to the total population.
5. Legal Information and Services
Barriers to Legal Information and Services Issues Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Persons
The Aboriginal Justice Strategy (AJS) established in 1991 enables Aboriginal communities to have increased involvement in the local administration of justice as timely and effective alternatives for the purpose of reducing crime, victimization, and incarceration. To include relevant Aboriginal values within the justice system, the Attorney General of Canada's Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples included a number of guidelines related to litigation.
Barriers to Legal Information and Services Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Communities in respect to Aboriginal Law
"Indigenous" is not a single life philosophy, belief or ethical code; there are at least 50 distinct linguistic groups within First Nations, Inuit, and Métis languages.
The number of Indigenous languages and scantiness of people who are fluent in those languages impedes appropriate interpretation of their legal traditions.
Geographically remote areas where members of many of these communities live might be served better by using technology for remote access versus having face to face interpreters.
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) created Steps to Justice, a portal providing a comprehensive list of resources and information on critical legal topics including newcomer-related resources in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu (available in print, pdf, and audio). CLEO is one of Ontario's 72 community legal clinics funded by Legal Aid Ontario that improves access to legal aid services for low-income people across Ontario, including help from Ontario's community legal clinics.
Legal Information and Services - What are the Issues?
38% of Canadian population resides in Ontario and uses 53% of the total Legal Aid budget.
Current cuts to the LAO increased demands on other Legal Aid programs across Canada reimbursing refugee legal aid services, leading to increased vulnerability and marginalization.
In Toronto alone, more than 132,700 residents are unable to have a conversation in either official language, accounting for 20.5% of the 648,970 non-English and non-French-speaking population across Canada.*
The changes to LAO funding in 2019 could mean a push for mediation services, to see whether disputes in a family law context as well as employment issues can be mediated outside of the court process.
Further funding could be provided for tribunals for interpreters in languages other than English or French.
A good example of this is the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (the HRTO). The HRTO has developed a process wherein a party that requires language interpretation or sign language interpretation services in a hearing or mediation can have the professional interpretation services paid by the province.
Interpreters, in facilitating dialogues, translate verbally; this is expressive and immediate work that requires flexibility and quick thinking. Translators, on the other hand, have to look more at the precise mirroring of the words and terminologies from one language to another. These two categories of language service professions cannot be seen as synonymous because they require unique and distinctive skills, and have very different certification processes and requirements.
There are also other underlying barriers aside from the language barriers, for example:
A lot of clients come from at-risk groups, such as women or minorities that have experienced abuse. Interpreters and translators need to be neutral in dealing with populations requiring their services.
Although language professionals are called to "interpret" or "translate," they in fact mitigate cultural differences while not being allowed to mediate in interactions between clients and social workers/counselors/immigration officials.
Reportedly, clients feel that there are few resources available to them because the information is not communicated properly (e.g., on immigration, on child services). Clients are experiencing barriers even where resources are available because of their lack of knowledge about the existence of such resources (indicating need for better communication plans).
As a result, limited or non-English/French-speaking clients often rely on word of mouth (i.e. another immigrant who has gone through the process).
First Nations and Indigenous Persons Languages and Translation and Interpretation Services
The House of Commons currently uses around 100 interpreters interpreting in 20 Indigenous languages, the most common being Cree, Dene, Innu, Inuktitut, Ojibway and Oji-Cree.
Call to Action 13 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Final Report recommends the acknowledgment that Indigenous rights include Indigenous language rights. The Government of Canada accepted the report and stated that the government would fully implement all of the Calls to Action found within.
In the Northwest Territories (NWT) Indigenous languages have equal status alongside English and French as official languages. The Northwest Territories’ Official Languages Act 37 (NWTOLA) was amended in 1990 to recognize a total of nine official Indigenous languages. The NWT Legislature chamber has three permanent interpretation booths and the ability to provide interpretation in three official languages at a time.
Barriers to Translation and Interpretation Services Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Communities
Lack of training programs that will create a solid roster of qualified interpreters
As majority of fluent speakers are elderly, need for investment into "cultural interpreter" education focused on health services (e.g. clinician–patient interaction)
The Issues in Translation and Interpretation Services
6. Translation and Interpretation Services
In the public policy arena there is no discussion of translator/interpreter shortages in civic services, entertainment or disaster-communications.
Non-Canadian sources used for languages other than English and French create external competition for local agencies. In addition, immigrants/migrants rely increasingly on foreign and/or fraudulent online services to get news and programs in Canada that matches their needs.
This creates a tiered approach to communications, as well as a system where some Canadians are not fully a part of their local communities.
58 Indigenous languages and more than 90 dialects are used across Canada and the vast majority of Indigenous languages are considered endangered. However, although 1.6 million Canadians identify as Indigenous only 260,000 are fluent in Indigenous languages.
Main action ideas:
Change minority language rights to make them more responsive to language needs.
Bring back cultural barrier facilitation/mediation or provide interpreters with accreditation to allow them to culturally mediate between the interlocutors.
Other than English and French, there are no legal rights by law protecting the rights of speakers of minority, non-official languages.
Only in a court of law does one have the right to an interpreter, but there is a need to be more expansive in terms of minority language rights in Canada.
As it stands, one is not forced to learn an official language, at least not constitutionally. However, socially, some might feel excluded from economic opportunities while being in the process of obtaining full language proficiency.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
- Regulatory agency for broadcasting and telecommunications. - The CBC/ Radio Canada offers news in English French eight Indigenous languages, Spanish Arabic and Mandarin through Radio Canada International
Mainstream, ethnic and Indigenous media sources
- Print, radio, television and online media and news sources - Can be accessed privately or publicly at libraries, schools and community centers
The News and Media - What Are the Issues?
News and media issues are about the ability to build a community and support system around shared communication channels, have people feel connected to their host communities and communities of origin, and build connections between the two.
Proportionate representation of diversity (culture and language) in the mainstream news and media is a way to include diversity of thought in our communication landscape and provide a more balanced view on complex political issues (inclusive of entertainment sources).
Social media used by citizens to communicate beyond the mainstream media or media blackouts also creates opportunities for deep coverage, continued conversation or organizing, just as it creates opportunities for manipulation, misinformation and spreading biases.
The issues here are created in respect to media selection and content because both mainstream and social media are centralized, and thus affected by subjective and/or systemic and algorithmic biases with respect to economic, demographic, and cultural factors. From the regulatory perspective, non-English/French news sources do not always comply with Canadian Press standards for cultural reporting but do operate withing a complex set of governing regulations that non-English/French or Indigenous media must face (e.g., must have 15% Canadian content, must produce itself.)
The key actions in filling these gaps are:
Rethinking relevant regulatory agency - the Canadian broadcasting regulation is regulation of speech, viewed as necessary to ensure fair and balanced usage.
Rethinking relevant, accountable and transparent online speech regulation while having citizens decide on how to implement them. (e.g. a public debate about hate speech, [multilingual] media monitoring).
Issues Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Media
Indigenous issues in this area are highlighted in the TRC Calls to Action, which addresses under-representation, social isolation, and lack of media and news sources as main challenge for Indigenous and First Nation communities. The TRC calls for the media to preserve, promote, and revitalize Indigenous culture and languages and acknowledges that the continuous lack of support and resources will further limit both job and educational opportunities.
Indigenous news sources, however, do exist and are regulated by their own set of CRTC regulations. These include:
APTN - The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
Turtle Island News
For Ontario’s Indigenous communities, especially those in the north, federal resources pay for translation related to “disaster communication.” However, the time it takes to translate materials often makes it obvious that this is not the most effective solution. This is one of many examples of how a language barrier, in fact, could be harmful to the well-being of people in Indigenous communities.
Barriers to News and Media Faced by First Nations and Indigenous Communities
A notable lack of resources - It is time consuming and costly to translate official releases and press summaries (an important factor being lack of dedicated funding for indigenous languages).
Small news outlets are less capable of keeping up with technological advancements and adapting to digital communications.
News and media is an area where there has been little specific research in the context of language policy. In Canada, the government regulated news source is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio Canada. Other news sources are private, and include a wide array of services. However, the majority of Canadian media sources are English and French.
News and media are key cultural and community touch points in society. They connect people in a community by:
giving job information
talking about services and supports
delivering elections platforms, news, and results
providing stories on how others manage life in Canada
keeping people informed about international events
providing news on entertainment
providing disaster communications
7. News and Media
Across Canada, the different levels of government are seeking ways to harness the power of communities to innovate, transform society, and improve economic opportunities in the global and local job markets. The Federal, Provincial and Territorial Declaration on Public Sector Innovations (2018) calls for "sharing knowledge and data with citizens in an open and transparent way, while learning from them and incorporating their expertise and input into our work...to succeed in the face of rapid social, economic, environmental and technological change." Engagement of this scope and ambition requires non-traditional collaborations. By seeing citizens as a resource of lived experience and localized knowledge and by creating opportunities for citizens to contribute to public policies more frequently, governments can actively modernize public governance, including how public decisions are made and how public actions are carried out. Social innovation in particular depends on inclusive, authentic, and easily implemented public policies.
As previously mentioned, our interest in having larger conversations around language as a policy and language as infrastructure of access was partially motivated by our interest to explore various aspects of language service delivery. However, we also wanted to see if policy making could inspire Canadians from all walks of life to connect with each other and with policy makers on issues that matter. In fact, 39% of the participants, irrespective of their professional or personal backgrounds, indicated that the greatest value of a hackathon is creating a space and “an atmosphere where people with different skill sets can brainstorm together, create partnerships, and learn about a problem or challenge.”
Through the hackathon we developed some very concrete and often unconventional suggestions, for example, a take on "innovation" that considers free Internet for rural Canada in lieu of access to services. It is also worth noting that many of the suggestions have been focused on end users and not language professionals, despite an ongoing cry for eliminating precarious work and for more substantial funding for training for the latter. Finally, because of the two decades of growth of third party service providers (non profit and for profit) replacing direct government service delivery, we also understood how the social services marketplace has become not only decentralized but also disconnected. Yet, because of this exercise, our participants realized, and contemporary policy research confirms this as well, that decentralization has in fact enabled end users to see themselves and be seen as consumers of services, which adds additional pressure on governments/service providers to invest more in engagement, technology and feedback to be able to shape more responsive service.
In that sense, policy and community hackathons could be seen as instruments of rapid innovation, a way of bringing all players to the table to collectively and equitably define how governments can leverage citizen input with appropriate technology, how public policy solutions can be optimized to be both practical and inclusive, and how social services design could adopt new participatory, crowd-sourcing methodologies to remove barriers to peer-productions and allow for simultaneous engagement of service providers, service users and governments alike.
The 21 insights put forth by participants for policymakers working to improve language access:
The Top 3 Priorities for Government to Consider in 7 Language Policy Areas:
1. Cultural competency training to service providers 2. Continuous needs assessment for newcomers 3. Public consultation with minority language speakers
1. Cultural competency training for police and first responders 2. Access to critical information and services available in all languages 3. Funding for settlement workers
1. More neighbourhood hubs with social, educational, and recreational programming to decrease isolation and siloed services 2. Same language workshops on available services, elder abuse, mental health 3. Public health visits and a matching buddy system from English and other languages
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
1. Budget allocated for language services and sufficient interpreter hiring 2. Training for law enforcement to assess language service needs 3. Support/plan hiring multilingual law enforcement officers
Legal/ Labour Information and Services
1. Funding for legal interpretation training, and more adequate pay 2. Stable working conditions for interpreters 3. Clear and standardized certification guidelines for all levels of language service provision
1. Improving awareness/education about existing services 2. Budget for language services, especially translation 3. Tying funding for government services to adequate language access
1. More funding for language services 2. Free Internet access in rural communities 3. Civic literacy through ESL programs and libraries
1. Cultural competency training for service providers and first responders.
After journey mapping across seven policy areas, the one thing that stood out to all participants was the need for service providers to be given mandatory cultural competency training. The 2016 Census counted over 7.5 million foreign-born individuals, representing 21.9% of the total population, and 29.1% of Ontario, or 3,852,145 foreign-born residents. According to Statistics Canada's population projections, the proportion of Canada's foreign-born population could reach between 24.5% and 30.0% by the year 2036. Since Ontario in particular now supports such a highly diverse population, service providers in the health, education, and law enforcement fields need to be provided with cultural training for cultures that make up a majority of the provincial population. Preventative training guidelines like this could help de-escalate difficult, anxiety-inducing, and dangerous situations for both newcomers and service providers.
2. More funding and support for language services and relevant technologies
A lack of resources and access for interpreters and translators was identified as a key issue in all seven areas. The group focused on Legal/Labour in particular highlighted interpreters' lack of perception of clear guidelines about rules and regulations surrounding their work, making their jobs unnecessarily difficult, and thus limiting access to language services. Should a review be conducted to centralize or streamline language and interpretation services, more freelance interpreters and translation service organizations would become increasingly accessible to vulnerable populations. Even with limited budgets, participants noted that the right mix of low cost innovative technology solutions (e.g., machine translation) could ease the financial burden of language services immensely (e.g., button for translation services for paramedics).
3. Neighbourhood/community supported language access
A further issue that participants agreed on was the need for better community and neighbourhood supports that could take various forms: informative workshops in languages that users fluently understand, neighbourhood hubs, public health visits to seniors or programs similar to New Zealand’s Family-by Family matching program (which matches newcomers with prior immigrants). Participants agreed that assisting a newcomer in assimilating with their local community could improve feelings of belonging and being connected, of well-being or even of digital literacy, especially that of seniors. This could also help newcomers grow familiar with their rights, receive proper medical care, become educated about resources in their communities, and significantly improve civic engagement.
Christiansen, J., and L Bunt. Innovation in Policy: Allowing for Creativity, Social Complexity and Uncertainty in Public Governance. London, UK: Mind Lab, Nesta, 2012.
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation Union. Powering European Public Sector Innovation: Towards A New Architecture - Report of the Expert Group on Public Sector Innovation. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.
European Union. Quality of Public Administration - A Toolbox for Practitioners. Observatory of Public Sector Innovation, European Commission, 2017.
First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC). A Guide to Language Policy and Planning for B.C. First Nations Communities. Brentwood Bay, B.C: FPCC, 2013.
Jedwab, J., "The 'Roots' of Immigrant and Ethnic Voter Participation." Electoral Insight 8, 2 (December 2006), pp. 3-10.
Levy, T., Minority Language Rights: What Matters? A Comparison of Belgium and Canada. Ontario: Concordia University, 2004.
Ling Chung, M M., The Relationship Between Racialized Immigrants and Indigenous People in Canada: A Literature Review. The University of Winnipeg, 2010.
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Modernizing the Official Languages Act. Ottawa, Ontario: Minister of Public Services and Procurement, May 2019.
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Making Ontario Home 2012. Toronto, Ontario: OCASI, 2012.
Parliament of Canada. The Use of Indigenous Languages in Proceedings of the House of Commons and Committees. Ottawa: Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, 42nd Parliament, 1st session, June 2018.
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, volume 1b, 2019.
Shergold, P., "Can Governments and Community Organisations Really Collaborate?” The Conversation (2011, 7 April).
Statistics Canada. Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada: Process, Progress and Prospects. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2003.
The Australian Center for Social Innovation and Community Services Industry Alliance. Commissioning for Outcomes: An Industry-led Approach. Sidney, Australia: TACSI, 2018.
Trinaistic, E. The What, Why, Who and How of the Language Policy Hackathon (Part 1; Part 2). Toronto, 2019.
Empathy Journey (Language Access Personas)
Votes* for #1
Votes for #2
Votes for #3
Making public spaces more inclusive by making minority language more visible
Continuous needs assessment for newcomers
Cultural competency training to service providers
Public consultation for minority language speakers
Life transitions are challenging; something Jamal is familiar with as he is applying to university. He also suffers from depression (untreated) and has no siblings. His parents speak Arabic and very little English. His father owns and works at a local convenient store and his parents are very much involved in their own ethnic community. They are also strict and regularly seek advice and insights from the imam (a leader in the Islamic community) at their local mosque. Jamal is a regular mosque-goer and also relies on the imam for advice and life direction. He does not have too many friends and is a bit isolated except for one very good friend, Mahmoud. Other than Mahmoud, Jamal feels alienated, even bullied sometimes. The assumption is that all of these circumstances relate to Jamal's mental health (i.e. the cycle of depression and loneliness, isolation, etc.).
Jamal's teacher seeks out support for his depression and speaks to his parents, but encounters a cultural barrier with a lack of support and understanding of mental illness. Because of pre-existing language barriers that are now compounded by the vocabulary around the issue of mental health, Jamal's parents are not aware of how to help their son or of the variety of supports available.
Possible barriers to Jamal's health care plan:
Isolation of Jamal and his family from the people and community outside of his own ethnicity.
Unawareness and ignorance about the extent of his illness, further contributing to the cycle of depression.
The stigma and taboo around mental health issues; involves gender norms (toxic masculinity leading to men not seeking help and support) and cultural norms.
1. Healthcare - How Might We:
1.1 Engage community leaders in the mental health process to build a trusted community source for mental health supports in culturally sensitive situations?
The Journey Map
Untreated mental illness and language barriers to being able to communicate what the problem is. Additionally, some cultural stigma.
Meeting with Jamal, his teacher, his parents, and a community outreach worker to discuss mental health. Counselor offers options and identifies that mental health supports may be required
Jamal drives home with his parents. They have a very uncomfortable and awkward ride home
"I don’t know why I feel this way, and it's up to me to figure it out. I can deal with it. I have to man up. It’s not like I broke my arm; it will go away. Sometimes though, I feel lost and lonely... sometimes I wish I knew how to talk to someone about this”
“I can’t believe she called my parents. She’s making a big deal. I hope my parents aren’t mad. I hope no one finds out. Maybe I can start to feel better though. I don’t know how this conversation will go"
“Do I really need to do counseling …how will my parents treat me now…My parents probably think I’m a failure, and they will be even more strict. So what if I’m sick?”
Sad, ashamed, scared, depressed, lonely, and anxious. Potentially feels pride, which makes him resistant to seeking help.
Many mixed feelings. Embarrassed and frustrated. Feels less pride, almost dishonoured. Also feels relieved and hopeful, but worried about the reaction from others
Neglected and angry, with many different sources for that anger (self, parent, teacher, peers, world). Confused, burdened, exposed, yet relieved
Jamal cares about what his community and parents think of him
Increase the accessibility of mental health information and reduce stigma around mental health. Increase ties with community leaders
Reduce cultural barriers to mental health services. Train service providers (e.g. teachers) on cultural differences that may exist for such issues
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for healthcare:
Cultural competency training to service providers.
Continuous needs assessment for newcomers.
Public consultation for minority language speakers.
To improve access to healthcare services, participants also thought that training or cultural competency should be provided for healthcare professionals, and education professionals such as teachers and counselors.
There is a cognitive gap between parents (with mainly minority language skills) and children learning in only English and/or French. Thus, there may be a need to build these cultural competencies or languages into the curriculum.
How do we select these minority languages?
Would it be catered to those that make up large parts of the population?
Future implementation of immigrant needs assessments could prevent situations like Jamal’s from arising, especially as it comes to integration.
Lastly, consultation should be held among minority language speakers to ensure that legislation and healthcare supports are accessible across the province.
Reported by neighbour for suspicious behaviour that includes sleeping in van and listening to foreign music loudly in his van at odd hours
When the police come to investigate, Ahmed responds in a loud voice, not in English. The police finds this aggressive
“After a long night at work, I just need to lay here in my van for a bit and listen to my tunes”
“What’s going on? I haven’t done anything wrong”
Stressed, scared, confused, and helpless.
Ahmed is trying to make ends meet
Ahmed doesn’t know his rights. He feels traumatized by this encounter
Community + public education + connections or interactions. Settlement support, community organizations (cultural support). Education about police, rights as part of settlement - Police education, community/ public education/ advocate; neighbour support for communication
Translation “machine” or strategies by police, for e.g., Google translate
Education and Job Training Priorities
Votes* or #1
Offer flexibility in choosing services to meet newcomer needs
More funding for settlement workers
Communication campaign to introduce cultures and new Canadians
Cultural competency training for police and first responders
Access to critical information and services, available in all languages
Ahmed has shift work with an irregular schedule that changes weekly. He loves Arabic music, and tends to play it loud in his car, unintentionally disrupting his neighbours.
A neighbour calls the police because he thinks that Ahmed is demonstrating suspicious behaviour. He sleeps in his van and comes and goes at random hours.
The police arrive late one night, but do not speak Arabic and have no access to an Arabic interpreter.
2. Education and Job Training - How Might We:
2.1 Improve awareness of rights for newcomers with limited language skills to advocate for themselves and access support networks?
2.2 Increase awareness to reduce fear-based behaviour for communities with limited exposure to newcomers, and build communities that are more inclusive and accepting?
2.3 Expand settlement services with ongoing support for police and settlement workers, to build trust between authorities?
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for Education:
Cultural competency training for police and first responders.
Access to critical information and services, available in all languages.
More funding for settlement workers.
Much like healthcare services, participants also thought that training or cultural competency should be provided for police, first responders, and service providers.
Access to political and safety information in all languages spoken in Ontario was identified as a priority for governments. It has been shown that Ontario has an increasingly diverse population, and access to all government information should always be accessible, not only upon request.
Finally, settlement workers are severely underfunded, and government should increase services for them.
3. Immigration and Refugee Services - How Might We:
3.1 Improve the self-sufficiency, independence, and wellness of seniors who come to take care of their grandchildren after their care services are not needed anymore?
3.2 Create language accessible networks, programs and caregivers on their arrival for sponsorship?
3.3 Incentivize the sponsors through tax-saving programs (akin to RESPs) for sponsored seniors?
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for immigration:
More neighbourhood hubs with social, educational, and recreational programming to decrease isolation and the nature of services existing in silos.
Same language workshops on available services, elder abuse, mental health, etc. to ensure that individuals are able to understand the information and material being provided.
Public health visits and a matching buddy system from English and other languages (E.g., For the first six months have a case worker and public health nurse follow the individual to support them in connecting with services and assess their living situation, ensuring that the worker can either speak the individual’s native language as well as English or has access to an interpreter)
Expectations from all levels of government tied to federal funding for language services and more efficient and effective use of resources with measurable outcomes and standardized level of service across Canada.
Smart and age friendly cities include language access as a strategy for growth. This would increase the ability for immigrants, especially the elderly, to access services and decrease isolation (E.g., include technology and phones for translation and interpretation in communities).
Name: Najma, Somalian grandmother
Grandmother arrived from Somalia six years ago to take care of her grandchildren. She has no social life outside of her family and very limited command of the English language. The oldest grandchild , at 17 years of age, occasionally serves as his grandmother's interpreter. All of the grandchildren are affectionately connected to the grandmother.
The father in the family has decided to excommunicate the grandmother for various reasons, and she is now on her own. She cannot return to Somalia and she is not familiar with the services available to her in Canada.
Immigration and Refugee services Priorities
Standard expectations from all levels of government tied to federal funding for language services.
Smart and age friendly cities including language access as a strategy for growth.
More neighbourhood hubs with social, educational, and recreational programs.
Public health visits and a matching buddy system from English and other languages.
Same language workshops on available services, elder abuse, mental health
Caring for grandchildren for six years
Asked to leave the family
Grandmother is on her own
"I feel useful and needed. However, I’m dependent on the family, I miss home, and I find the culture here strange"
"I'm scared and anxious. I feel abandoned and lonely, like I have no value"
"How will I pay for anything? I have no choice but to live on the streets or in some shelter. There's no access to information and my health is steadily declining"
Felt she had value and that her family recognized her value.
Has lost sense of purpose
Six years in this new country and still unable and uncomfortable taking care of herself.
Mandatory education for sponsors of parents and grandparents regarding rights and responsibilities
A savings programs for children to prepare their parents
Case worker + translators following periodically to help with transition. One on one. Seniors and family
Public health: family visitor program - matching buddies from English to other language (seniors)
More neighbourhood and HUBS with social, recreational and educational resources for newcomers
Basic income tax for caregivers
Same language workshops (interpreter aided). Accessible resources on mental health elder abuse
Standard expectations from all levels of government tied to federal funding for language services
Smart cities are age-friendly including language access as strategy at all levels.
4. Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement - How Might We:
4.1 Improve training for interpreters to provide effective cultural mediation, not just interpretation?
4.2 Improve cultural competency training for law enforcement police officers to understand the needs/assess needs of persons with language barriers/ pick up one criminal breakdown?
4.3 Increase the budget for language services/interpretation for victims to understand the needs assess the needs of persons with language barriers?
Law Enforcement Priority
Incorporate new language technologies into service provision (use of technology in a safe way)
Training guidelines for cultural mediation
Budget allocated funds for language services and sufficient interpreter hiring
Training for law enforcement to assess language service needs
Support/ Plan hiring law enforcement officers who can speak multiple languages and provide service directly in the person’s language
The interpreter is briefed on the case
Deciding on whether he interprets for one person or both individuals
The post phase is a result of the decision on who received the service
Confident, professional, useful, happy about getting paid.
While interpreting for man: glad to be providing a service; helpful. While interpreting for woman: protective
Domestic violence is messy, triggered, why are men picked on, surprised that woman is also being charged
Angry that this situation exists or that incident happened; feeling vulnerable.
Interpreters have lot of power
Anxiety due to shift in power balance.
Being paid in part for realizing that you have a potential bias.
Should have asked for help and pointed out the need to hire a second interpreter
Competency training for interpreters; larger budget for hiring culturally competent interpreters (bias)
Cultural interpretation - does the Police need cultural competency training too?
Develop mechanism for interpreters to turn down assignments
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for Law Enforcement:
Budget allocated funds for language services and sufficient interpreter hiring.
Training for law enforcement to assess language service needs (E.g., when it is acceptable to use technology/ when to use multiple vs one interpreter).
Support/plan hiring law enforcement officers who can speak multiple languages and provide service directly in the person’s language.
The use of technology (E.g., online translators) should also be made a priority, although there is a risk of mistakes.
These would be high-stake mistakes, with chances of people being imprisoned
Requires guidelines and training on proper and safe use
Location: Police station
Use of Service: Professional Interpreter
The interpreter, Ahmed, has been hired by police services for someone being held in custody for a domestic violence case.
The husband has also been changed and there is only one interpreter at the station for both parties involved.
Ahmed has been asked to interpret for both the man and the woman in a domestic violence case.
The emphasis in this case is on the point of view of the interpreter. The assumption here is that there is a conflict of interest because of unconscious biases when hearing both sides of the story, and personally deciding that one party is lying. This could be due to gender bias (male vs. female perspective) and who you would sympathize with.
5. Legal/Labour Information and Services - How Might We:
5.1 Improve timely distribution of adequate legal and labour information to ease access to justice and access to employment for newcomers?
5.2 Improve working conditions of language services/interpretation workers to ensure that adequate supply of qualified language professionals will be available?
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for Legal/ Labour:
Funding for legal Interpretation training, and more adequate pay for language professionals providing services in legal settings.
Stable working conditions for (all) interpreters: avoid creation of precarious work opportunities (filling permanent job needs without permanent employee rights). Precarious work, subject to lower wages, unstable employment and unsafe working conditions often classified as “short-term” or “independent contract work,” is disproportionately filled by immigrants, minorities and women.
Clear and standardized certification guidelines for all levels of language service provision.
How do we create an open, accessible data base of professional legal interpreters to ensure that access to professionally trained legal interpreters will be available?
Location: GTA , Ontario
Use of Service: Interpreter
Anka is a European immigrant who provides language interpretation services. She enjoys spending time with her husband and children. She requires professional training as an interpreter. However, like many others, Anka faces the common barriers that aspiring language interpreters face, such as completing the different certifications required.
Anka is a freelance interpreter who is struggling to work through obtaining training and eventually becoming court certified. She goes on an interpretation job and is sent home because she lacks the proper certifications. Anka is frustrated with the little recognition given for her experience and skills, the minimal time she has to prepare for the test, and lack of funds.
Goes to work to the courthouse in the city
Informed that the court needs a particular type of certification, one she does not have
She keeps trying to obtain the requested certification
Happy for the chance to provide financially for the family
Upset and frustrated by unclear guidelines
Nervous in anticipation of a new job. Accountable to do it well
Feeling rejected, disappointed, and discouraged
Resilient and hopeful
Awareness about urban vs. rural access to services and resources for interpreters
Cultural barriers compound language barriers
To de-centralize legal interpreter certification process and create a platform where pathways to legal information and certification are clearly displayed
Interpreters could support even rural areas with remote/ over the phone interpreting.
Legal (Labour) Priorities
Access to information on being an interpreter
Clear and standardized certification guidelines for all levels of language service provision
Funding for legal interpretation training, better pay for language professionals
Stable working conditions
Increase the scope of minority rights in Canada
Guidelines/best practices for interpreter to culturally mediate while maintaining impartiality
Budget for language services, especially sufficient media/ news translation
Tying funding for government services to adequate language access
Improving awareness/ education about existing services
6. Translation and Interpretation Services - How Might We:
6.1 Improve awareness of rights for newcomers with limited language skills to advocate for themselves and access support networks?
6.2. Increase awareness to reduce fear-based behaviour for communities who have had limited exposure to newcomers to build communities that are more inclusive and accepting?
Location: Scarborough, Ontario
Use of Service: Professional Interpreter
Maria is a mother of 3 children, originally from El Salvador. She is Spanish monolingual, with a history of experiencing abuse and domestic violence. She lives in a small, rural community.
Scenario: The school reports to children services that one of Maria's children has bruises and was possibly spanked. The Children's Aid Society (CAS) receives the complaint and is required to complete an investigation of the family, but requires an interpreter to effectively communicate with Maria.
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for translation and interpretation services:
Improving awareness/education about existing services.
Budget for language services, especially translation.
Tying funding for government services to adequate language access.
How can we increase the scope of minority (language) rights in Canada? Language policy affecting translation and interpretation is not static, but rather fluctuating and dynamic, and policy outcomes depend on a number of factors (E.g., demographic changes, economic and political place of a language group, as well as the current political culture).
In that sense policy outcomes are sometimes changed in order to protect certain values, if there is a sense or perception that the value is threatened.
The school reports to Child Services regarding the origin of some bruises and the possibility of spanking
Maria receives a visit from Children's Aid Services
Possibility of the child being taken away
"I am disciplining the child the way I was disciplined as a child."
"I am confused. What is going on? I do not understand who these people are and why they are here."
"What are my next steps?"
Feeling indifferent in response to school's notice (no understanding of the context)
Confused, shocked, and anxious. Some feeling of relief after the interpreter has joined the conversation
Agony and distress at the thought of her child being taken away
Unaware that there is a problem
Awareness about cultural barriers and the importance of clear communication
Getting more resources translated to let people know the services they can access
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Use of Service: Translation
Shereen is a recent privately-sponsored refugee from Syria. She is interested in civic literacy and wishes to be more engaged with her new community. She is taking ESL classes and lives in Thunder Bay area.
Her wish is to become a nurse, as she was a nurse in Syria.
Shereen always has been politically engaged and enjoys following politics via news sources. There is a municipal election happening in Thunder Bay and she is unsure on whether she can vote or how she can participate as a newcomer.
7. News and Media Services - How Might We:
7.1. Increase civic engagement and participation among immigrants and newcomers?
7.2. Increase newcomer voter turnout among immigrants?
The 3 priorities that participants felt should be the highest on government agenda for News and Media Services:
More funding for language services
Free Internet access in rural communities
Civic literacy through ESL programs and libraries
Other conversation in this group addressed not only media but reason for voting and absence from voting, indicating that strong connection with ethnic community does not always mean weak connection to Canadian society at large, leading to reduced interest to vote.
In fact, an Environics survey found that 41% of Canadians think that the main reason for reduced electoral participation is that their votes have no impact. This has been consistently the most important single reason given by survey respondents in this category, year after year.
News and Media Priorities
Civic literacy through ESL programs and libraries
More funding for language services
Accessible political platforms in different languages
Free Internet access in rural communities
Promote diversity in media
Wants to gain civic literacy and be more engaged within her new community
Cannot access election material on candidates, election practices, platforms or law
Politically curious, eager
Could not communicate with representative at constituency office, due to language barriers
She did not participate civically, but wishes she had
Angry frustrated, confused, isolated, alone, impotent, and powerless
Frustration and isolation
This is how one ends up staying confined to one's own ethnic community
Provide a translator for essential services, better Internet access in rural areas, add civic literacy to ESL and other newcomer programs, and provide better access to libraries with civic resources
Ensure quality of local news covering topics of interest (be it through television, radio, print, etc.)
Publicizing issues/refugee testimonials in mainstream media
Regulating news media/setting quotas
Translating civic websites
Diversity of news
Affordable and accessible phone interpretation services
Policy Innovation Orientation Package
"A social innovation is any initiative (product, process, program, project, or platform) that challenges and, over time, contributes to changing the defining routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of the broader social system in which it is introduced.
Successful social innovations have durability, scale and transformative impact."
Frances Westley's keynote speech on the history of social innovation at Nesta's Social Frontiers, Nov. 14-15, 2013.
Part II: Linked Slides
Part II: Linked Webinar Recording
Part I: Linked Slides
Part I: Linked Webinar Recording
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