2019-2020 Achievements for the implementation of section 41

Part VII of the Official Languages Act

Minister responsible:

Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault

Deputy Head:

Ian Scott, Chairman and CEO

Person responsible for official languages (Parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act (OLA)):

Catherine Lacasse-Joyal
Manager, Organisation & Classification/Official Languages

National coordinator or contact person responsible for the implementation of section 41 (Part VII) of the OLA:

Juliana Trapolino
Analyst, Strategic Policy and International Affairs

Regional contact person(s) for section 41 of the OLA (if applicable):


Introduction: Particular Context of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC or Commission) is an independent administrative tribunal that is responsible for regulating and supervising the activities of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors under their respective legislation. Established to develop, implement and enforce regulatory policies on the Canadian communications system, the CRTC also performs a wide range of functions, including rule making and policy development. As an administrative tribunal, the CommissionFootnote 1 is subject to various legal requirements notably with respect to the conduct of its hearings. In line with these obligations, the Commission offers interested persons, including official language minority communities (OLMCs), the opportunity to make submissions in all proceedings on issues relevant to them. Commission decisions are made based on the record presented before it.

For several years, the CRTC has instituted a practice whereby an analysis of the record associated with a given proceeding must be prepared by Commission staff with a view to integrating, in a systemic fashion, the objectives of subsection 41(1) of the Official Languages ActFootnote 2 (OLA). This analysis forms part of the Commission’s deliberations. The CRTC has developed a tool, known internally as “Lens 41,” which has been systematically integrated into the decision process for proceedings that affect OLMCs.Footnote 3 The Lens 41 analysis serves to assess the probable effects that a given decision or policy will have on OLMCs and to better ensure that the vitality and development of these communities are fostered. This practice is consistent with the specific mandate entrusted to the CRTC under the Broadcasting ActFootnote 4 (BA) and the Telecommunications ActFootnote 5, and the limits imposed by this legislation.

All information documents regarding public hearings and all memoranda for Commission meetings also include a cover page entitled "Document at a Glance", which contains a section where Commission staff must indicate whether the record presents issues for official languages and/or minority language communities. Where such considerations exist, staff must check the appropriate box and specify exactly where in the document the relevant Lens 41 analysis can be found. This mechanism is used to draw the attention of Commission members (decision makers) to the fact that Commission staff is of the view that a given record has official languages implications for one or more OLMCs and that those implications are addressed in the related documentation.

The staff analysis included in “Lens 41” serves to raise issues for discussion by the Commission as well as ensuring that all Commissioners, including the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, are informed of OLMC issues that will be the subject of deliberations and decision processes.

At the CRTC, the implementation of section 41 of the OLA is carried out through regulatory policies, regulatory amendments and the imposition of conditions of licence on broadcasting undertakings or conditions of service on telecommunications service providers. To verify compliance, the Commission may impose monitoring and reporting requirements.

If the Commission is concerned about apparent non-compliance with regulatory obligations, it may investigate, hear evidence and rule on the issue. The Commission can impose a variety of measures, such as renewing the licence for a short period, imposing a mandatory order, denying licence renewal, suspending or revoking a licence, or imposing new conditions.

In conclusion, we would like to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that promoting the use of English and French across Canada is part of the Commission’s DNA, given that the Commission shall regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system with a view of implementing the broadcasting policy which states, among other things, that:

In addition, as a federal designated institution, the Commission has, under section 41 of the OLA, a duty to take positive measures to enhance the vitality of English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada, support and assist their development, and to foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

Part VII of the Act

Development of official language minority communities and promotion of English and French in Canadian society

Tangible Results

All federal institutions must answer these questions. Partners of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023 must identify one initiative that is included in the Action Plan, and if applicable, another initiative that is not part of the Plan.

  1. If your institution had to highlight key initiatives (at least two) that contributed to the development of official language minority communities, what would those be?

    1. Please describe these initiatives.
    2. What are the tangible results of these initiatives on/in the official language minority communities?
    3. What do you think is the determining factor for the success of these initiatives?

    Key initiative 1: CRTC Broadband Fund (Telecom)

    1. Description of initiative

      The CRTC issued Modern telecommunications services – The path forward for Canada’s digital economy, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-496. As part of this policy, the CRTC established the following universal service objective for Canada: Canadians, in urban areas as well as in rural and remote areas, have access to voice services and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed and mobile wireless networks.

      However, many Canadians, particularly in rural and remote areas, do not yet have access to broadband Internet access services that are comparable to those offered to the vast majority of Canadians in terms of speed, capacity, quality, and price. That is why, as part of its policy, the CRTC also created a new Broadband Fund to provide $750 million over five years towards achieving the above universal service objective.

      Subsequently, the CRTC issued Development of the Commission’s Broadband Fund, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2018-377, which addressed various matters related to the Broadband Fund, including its governance, operating and accountability frameworks, eligibility, and assessment and selection criteria for projects to be proposed under the Fund.

      Among other criteria, the CRTC decided that, consistent with the Official Languages Act (OLA) to support and assist in the development of English and French linguistic minority communities, it may, as part of selecting projects for funding, give special consideration to whether the communities affected by proposed projects are official language minority communities.

    2. Tangible results

      In 2019, the CRTC issued its first call for applications under the newly created Broadband Fund. This first call was reserved for all types of eligible projects in (i) satellite-dependent communities in any area of Canada, or (ii) any eligible geographic areas in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, or Yukon. In 2020, the Commission announced that five high-quality projects would receive funding under the Broadband Fund’s first call for applications, which will improve broadband services to 51 communities in Manitoba, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. The communities in question include Whitehorse, which is listed as an OLMC with at least one minority school at the following link: Official Language Minority Communities Canada.

      The Commission’s second call for applications was announced on 13 November 2019. This time, the Commission called for applications for funding for all types of eligible projects in all eligible geographic areas throughout Canada. Consistent with the project selection considerations established in the CRTC’s regulatory policy mentioned in section a), the Commission may, when making its funding decisions in relation to this second call for applications, give special consideration to proposed projects that provide service to official language minority communities. The Commission expects to begin making funding announcements in relation to this second call in 2021.

    3. Determining factors of success

      The public consultations conducted by the CRTC, which garnered participation from several thousands of citizens and organizations from coast to coast, made it clear that high-quality broadband Internet and mobile wireless service have become a basic need for all Canadians, including those living in official language minority communities.

      The CRTC heard directly from official language minority communities that, for example, Francophones in minority situations across Canada – particularly those living in Canada’s North and in other rural and remote parts of the country – need broadband Internet to overcome the scarcity of content in French in their community, including books, mobile apps for youth and schools, and television and radio content. Furthermore, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) submitted that the lack of Internet access and cellular coverage in certain parts of Canada has a significant impact on the vitality of official language minority communities and limits their ability to participate in broader French language society.

      Other community organizations such as the English-Language Arts Network (ELAN) and the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA) also took part in the CRTC consultations, and their participation contributed to the inclusion of the above-mentioned selection criteria in the CRTC’s Broadband Fund policy as a favourable outcome for Canadians living in official language minority communities across our country.

    Key initiative 2: Review of the Commercial Radio Policy Framework (Broadcasting)

    1. Description of initiative

      During the 2019-2020 broadcast year, the Commission commissioned public-opinion research to assess how Canadians across the country felt about the commercial radio offer in their respective markets, to which extent it is meeting their needs and interests, and where they thought commercial radio could be improved. The research was conducted by selecting candidates from all backgrounds with different levels of education, socioeconomic statuses, linguistic preferences, services used, and content preferences. The questions spanned a variety of subjects, such as Canadian content levels, satisfaction with programming, listening habits, overall market impressions, diversity in the market, and use of digital streaming platforms.

    2. Tangible results

      This research is being carried out in two phases. The first part was carried out in March 2020, and the data collected will be used in the review of the Commercial Radio Policy Framework, which was announced in Broadcasting Notice of Proceeding CRTC 2020-25. The first phase included two sessions with participants from OLMCs (one group of French-language participants from Timmins, Ontario and one group of English-language participants from Montréal, Québec). In addition, two sessions were held in the National Capital Region, which is considered a bilingual market. In that instance, one session was held with French-language participants from Gatineau, Québec and the other with English-language participants from Ottawa, Ontario.

    3. Determining factors of success

      As stated in the introduction, as an administrative tribunal, the Commission is subject to various legal requirements, including certain requirements imposed by administrative law with respect to the conduct of its hearings. In line with these obligations, and as is the case with all Commission proceedings affecting the rights, interests and/or privileges of natural or legal persons, the Commission provides interested persons, including OLMCs, with an opportunity to make submissions on issues relevant to them. Following this, the Commission reaches its decisions on the basis of the Law, Regulations, and the record presented before it.

      However, in its initiatives and policies, the CRTC is committed to consider the views and the needs of official language minority communities. The success of this research relies on the active participation of official language minority communities. As stated in the Broadcasting Notice of Proceeding CRTC 2020-25, the Commission will determine whether the information collected will allow it to complete the proceeding without the appearance of the parties.

      In that instance, the Commission may determine that an appearing hearing is necessary to better address some or all of the potential issues. In such case, further details will be announced during the course of the proceeding. The second phase of the process includes the simultaneous publication of the research and the Notice of Consultation in support of the review of the Commercial Radio Policy Framework.

  2. If your institution had to highlight key initiatives (at least two) that contributed to the promotion of English and French in Canadian society, what would they be? (Please do not confuse with obligations related to Parts IV and V)

    1. Please describe these initiatives.
    2. What are the tangible results of these initiatives in Canadian society?
    3. What do you think is the determining factor for the success of these initiatives?

    Key initiative 1: CRTC-CLOSM discussion group

    1. Description of initiative

      The CRTC-OLMC discussion group (discussion group) is a tangible example of the Commission’s efforts to promote the participation of OLMCs in its public processes. Since 2007, the discussion group’s activities have helped the Commission to support the vitality and development of OLMCs within its mandate and assisted in the promotion of Canada’s linguistic duality. The discussion group meets twice a year at the Commission’s offices, or via teleconference or videoconference.

      Some thirty organizations (including representatives from both English- and French-language OLMCs) from across the country are members. The list of member organizations also includes the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Commission’s federal partner, the Commission’s Official Languages Champion, the Commission’s National Implementation Coordinator for Section 41 of the OLA, and the Commission’s Sector Coordinators.

    2. Tangible results

      As a forum for exchange, communication and collaboration, the discussion group encourages OLMCs to share their broadcasting and telecommunications needs, concerns, and priorities, resulting in fruitful discussions. It also informs OLMCs of public processes that may affect them: licence renewals, notices of consultation, decisions, etc. while increasing the participation of OLMCs in the Commission’s public processes. The discussion group is intended to promote networking between English- and French-language organizations, thereby establishing important links between them.

      The last discussion group took place during the fall of 2019 and was focused on the discoverability of OLMCs-generated content. Several participants presented their work and initiatives on that front:

      • Experts from the research laboratory Laboratoire de recherche sur la découvrabilité et les transformations des industries culturelles à l’ère du commerce électronique of Université du Québec à Montréal shared the results of their research into the discoverability of Canadian productions that had been carried out on various non-Canadian digital services. The results of the research showed that Canadian English- and French-language productions are rarely viewed by non-Canadian suppliers. It also demonstrated that few, if any, OLMC-produced productions are available to non-Canadian suppliers.
      • On Screen Manitoba (OSM) shared that, over the five past years, it has been providing training on discoverability strategies to its members and that the organization itself has been using those strategies to promote its members’ productions and societies.
      • The Association des producteurs francophones du Canada (APFC) gave a presentation on Au coeur de la découvrabilité, a project launched in 2018 to develop, establish, and validate discoverability and audience growth strategies for audiovisual content producers who are APFC members and to disseminate the results of the test bench and the tools and strategies developed through it.
    3. Determining factors of success

      The broadcasting industry, which includes television and radio, is a vehicle for social cohesion and the development of OLMCs. They can see themselves on the screen, listen to themselves on the radio, and feel they are an integral part of Canadian society. Also, the growing importance of Broadband for the distribution of Canadian culture and values are important to all Canadians, particularly those who, like many OLMC communities, live in remote regions of the country with limited access to high-speed internet services at affordable prices.

      By encouraging the participation of OLMCs in the Commission’s public processes, the discussion group contributes, through its activities, to the greater participation of OLMCs in the CRTC’s public processes. It also gives the CRTC a chance to better understand the challenges they face and their priorities in order to adapt our public policies accordingly.

      The CRTC recently implemented a system of self-identification of persons from OLMCs when written interventions are filed with the Commission’s public processes. For the period from March 31, 2019, to April 1, 2020, some 492 individuals or organizations self-identified from English- or French-speaking OLMCs;

    Key initiative 2: Improved access for OLMCs production to television broadcast - Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2019-284 – Licence renewal of the independent television service “Game+”

    1. Description of initiative

      Since 2017, the Commission has taken the following positive measures to encourage reflection of Indigenous peoples and OLMCs by allowing all large ownership groups, as well as independently owned services, to claim, by way of COLs:

      • a 50% credit against their Canadian Programming Expenditures (CPE) requirements for expenditures on CPE produced by Indigenous producers.
      • a 25% credit against their CPE requirements for expenditures on CPE produced by OLMCproducers.

      * These credits, combined, could account for a maximum (expenses plus credit) of 10% of the groups’ overall CPE requirement.

      The vast majority of television services now include the condition of licence mentioned above. The only service that received this new condition of licence and did not already have it during April 1, 2019, to 31 March 2020 period was the English-language discretionary service Game+.

    2. Tangible results

      The service Game+ was renewed in Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2019-284. In that decision the Commission stated the following:

      11. (…) Consequently, the licensee will receive a 25% credit against its CPE requirements for expenditures on Canadian programming produced by OLMC producers, up to a maximum (expenses plus credit) of 10% of the licensee’s overall CPE requirement when combined with the credit discussed in the preceding section on Indigenous reflection. (…) Further, the OLMC producer must be an independent producer as defined by the Commission and (i) if in the province of Quebec, the original language of the production must be English or (ii) if outside of the province of Quebec, the original language of the production must be French.

      12. Accordingly, the Commission has set out conditions of licence to that effect in the appendix to this decision.

    3. Determining factors of success

      Through this initiative, the Commission has created an incentive for Game+ to commission programming made by OLMC producers in order to meet its regulatory requirements pertaining to Canadian production expenses. It is too soon to establish at this time whether or not Game+ will use this flexibility. However, the incentive is intended to benefit all OLMC (French and English-language) independent producers who want to sell their productions to broadcasters with the same condition of licence as Game+.

      The Commission does not yet have sufficient data on the use of this credit by Broadcasters to evaluate its impact on OLMC production (not just for Game +, but in the Canadian broadcasting system in general). The Commission should be in a better position to assess the impact of the initiative at the time of the next licence renewal of the major ownership groups, as it will have access to data that covers the entire licence period.

  3. What is the “key achievement” with a regional impact (progress or results in official language minority communities or for the promotion of French and English in Canadian society) that your institution would like to highlight?

    Key achievement: Approval of new English-language CBC FM-station in Kuujjuaq (Quebec) and in Chisasibi (Quebec)

    1. Description of initiative

      The Commission has undertaken various initiatives to serve and develop Official Language Minority Communities and to promote linguistic diversity across the country. For instance, one key initiative in promoting English and French in Canadian society is the licensing of new radio programming undertakings to better serve underserved markets in either official language. Since 2019, the Commission has approved new radio stations to serve OLMCs, and the most recent examples are the application approval by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to operate new English-language FM radio stations (Radio One) in both Kuujjuaq and Chisasibi, two English-speaking communities located in the province of Quebec.

    2. Tangible results

      According to data from Statistics Canada’s 2016 Survey, a significant portion of the population of the Nunavik region of Quebec speaks English. Its population was previously served by an English-language station located in Iqaluit, Nunavut which did not provide distinct local programming to these communities. Broadcasting CRTC Decision 2020-86, outlines the establishment of a new English-language FM radio station (Radio One) in Kuujjuaq, Quebec. Rebroadcasting transmitters will connect the communities of Kuujjuaq and allow listeners to access relevant local, national, and global news in their most commonly used language. Other English-language minority communities in the region will also benefit from the new radio offering.

      Chisasibi is currently served by a transmitter of Québec City’s Radio One station (CBVE-FM Québec) and, as a result, is not providing local and regional programming to the communities of Chisasibi, Wemindji, Waskaganish, Waswanipi, and Mistissini, Québec. The approval to operate a new English-language FM radio station (Radio One), as well as rebroadcasting transmitters of this station in other communities of northern Québec, will allow the CBC to transfer the local Cree-language programming (Winschgaoug and Eyou Dipajimoun) that currently airs on ICI Radio-Canada Première, the French-language station in the region, to the new English-language station. Consequently, the local community of Chisasibi, where most residents speak English, should experience improved service.

    3. Determining factors of success

      The Commission’s approvals of two new English-language FM radio stations (Radio One) in Kuujjuaq and Chisasibi are consistent with paragraph 3(1)(k) of the Broadcasting Act that state that a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as resources become available, as well as with the spirit of the OLA.

      These decisions illustrate how the Commission views the introduction of new radio stations in underserved OLMCsas a means to promote and protect the interests of both French and English-speaking listeners. The Commission approved both applications, concluding that their operation is in the public interest and would contribute to meeting the Commission's policy objective of providing a range of broadcasting services in both English and French languages.

    50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act in 2019

    The 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act in 2019 was a unique opportunity for federal institutions to contribute to the development of official language minority communities and to promote official languages.

  4. Did your institution take part in the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act?

    1. If yes, please describe the activities.
    2. Please identify the results.
      1. Description
        Projects Target audiences Launch date
        OL Champion Tour - raise awareness among all CRTC employees of their OL rights and management of their obligations, with a reminder of the 50th anniversary of the OLA. Employees Fall 2018
        Creation of internal CRTC language training programs - raise the language profile of all employees with supervisory duties to CBC levels by 2021. Employees January 2019
        Official Languages’ section in the "News of the Week" communication on the Zone (CRTC Intranet) - fun questions or interesting facts on OL, including historical reminders on the OLA and its 50th anniversary, share with employees every week. Employees 2019 (ongoing)
        Twinning program (to be launched under the theme of the 50th anniversary of the OLA) - based on evaluations made by teachers (French and English), participants are matched to practice their second official language with a colleague with a similar profile at a rate of 2 X 30 minutes per week. Employees Spring 2019
        Share information about the 50th anniversary (from Canadian heritage) through social media and other communication approach used by the CRTC Employees Spring 2019
        Presentation to the employees of the CRTC on the 50th anniversary of the OLA and the objectives of the OLA: presentation with music, champions' speeches. This activity was held in a public place accessible to many citizens. Employees March 2019
      2. Results

        Thanks to the activities mentioned above, the awareness of the 50th anniversary of the OLA and the objectives of the OLA were enhanced by the Commission staff as well as by the general public.

        Also, the CRTC is very proud of the two Awards of Excellence and Leadership in Official Language it received during an awards ceremony held at Library and Archives Canada to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act. The awards were presented by the Excellence and Leadership in Official Languages Award Committee as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Official Languages Act. The award recipients from the CRTC are:

        • The Organization and Classification/Official Languages and Language Training Program Unit comprised of Catherine Lacasse-Joyal, Sylvie Cardinal, Danielle Coulombe, Bernard Dubé, Stefan Ferraro and Pascal Villeneuve. The Unit has been recognized, in particular, for the development of a language training program at the Commission, which has proven to be a great success. As a small organization such as ours, we are very proud to have our own language school.
        • Frédéric Janelle, Broadcasting. Frédéric’s commitment to Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) is remarkable, and has made him an ally to these communities. In this capacity, he has forged strong links between OLMC representatives and the Commission, based on the principles of trust and mutual respect.
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