Review on Official Languages 2020-2021

2020-2021 Achievements for the Implementation of Section 41

Part VII of the Official Languages Act

Prepared by: Nafissa Dramé Dia

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Minister responsible:
The Honourable Mélanie Joly
Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Deputy Head:
Francis P. McGuire
President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
francis.mcguire@acoa-apeca.gc.ca / Tel.: 506-851-6128

Name of the person responsible for official languages (Parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act (OLA)):
Stéphane Lagacé
Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services
stephane.lagace@acoa-apeca.gc.ca / Tel.: 506-851-6438

Ginette LeBlanc
Senior Advisor of Official Languages, Employment Equity and HR Planning, Human Resources
ginette.leblanc@acoa-apeca.gc.ca / Tel.: 506-851-6508

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

Gerry Morrissey
Manager, Communities and Inclusive Growth
gerry.morrissey@acoa-apeca.gc.ca / Tel.: 506-378-1179

Nafissa Dramé Dia
Program Officer, Communities and Inclusive Growth
nafissa.dramedia@acoa-apeca.gc.ca / Tel.: 506-961-1249

General Information

Context

The Official Languages Act (the Act) requires the President of the Treasury Board to submit an annual report to Parliament on the status of programs in federal institutions relating to parts IV, V and VI. It also requires the Minister of Canadian Heritage to submit an annual report to Parliament on the implementation of Part VII (particularly section 41) of the Act by federal institutions.

The specific responsibilities of the Minister of Canadian Heritage with respect to Official Languages are currently assumed by the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

The Treasury Board Secretariat and the Department of Canadian Heritage are working together to coordinate the collection of information required to prepare our annual reports to Parliament.

Instructions

This year, your institution is asked to submit a Review on Official Languages. The templates to be used are attached. Your duly completed review must be returned electronically to: OLReview-BilanLO@tbs-sct.gc.ca and pch.portail41-gateway41.pch@canada.ca by May 31, 2021. Exceptionally this year, given that institutional capacity may still be limited as organizations have shifted resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, certain flexibilities could be considered on a case-by-case basis. We will also use your statistical data, which we will obtain through the Position and Classification Information System as of March 31, 2021.

Federal institutions are also responsible for communicating the results of their Review regarding the implementation of Parts IV, V, VI and VII of the Act to the various community stakeholders (the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (info@fcfa.ca) and the Quebec Community Groups Network (info@qcgn.ca), amongst others) as well as to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and to both Parliamentary Standing Committees on Official Languages.

Part VII of the Act

Enhancing the vitality and development of official language minority communities and the advancement of English and French in Canadian society

All federal institutions should answer all of the questions. Information collected through this process is used by Canadian Heritage to prepare the Annual Report on Official Languages, the Best Practices Digests for part VII and various other tools to support federal institutions with the implementation of part VII of the Official Languages Act.

Ongoing Dialogue

How does your institution ensure that it is aware of the priorities and needs of French-speaking communities outside Quebec and English-speaking communities within Quebec?

Please specify the methods used, list the organizations/communities with whom you were in contact, as well as how you took the priorities and needs of these communities into account when planning your activities.

Throughout 2020-2021, the Agency ensured that it was aware of the priorities and needs of French-speaking communities outside Quebec through various activities or projects supported by its offices throughout the four Atlantic provinces.

Example of activities

ACOA Newfoundland and Labrador provided support for the official language minority community (OLMC) by engaging in consultations with the francophone community regarding ACOA programming and matters of interest to it. Organizations included the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador and the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité de Terre-Neuve et Labrador.

A few of the methods that are in place to ensure that ACOA Nova Scotia officials understand the needs and priorities of these OLMCs are described below:

Where possible, Agency staff are co-located with other economic development organizations within these OLMCs. The ACOA account manager for the Municipality of Clare and the Economic Development manager for southwest Nova Scotia are co-located with the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC), Réseau de développment économique et entrepreneurship (RDÉE), Le Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle-Écosse (CDÉNÉ), and the French-language career resource centre. The account manager serving the Municipality of Argyle is co-located with the Yarmouth CBDC, as well as the Yarmouth County career resource centre. Agency staff engage both formally and informally with these service providers in order to maintain an understanding of the needs and priorities of these OLMCs.

The Regional Enterprise Network (REN) is a provincially funded network of economic development organizations. The CEO of the REN serving the municipalities of Clare and Argyle and Agency staff meet quarterly as a means of exchanging updates regarding needs and priorities. Agency staff also attend biweekly REN meetings.

Université Sainte-Anne is the only French post-secondary educational institution in Nova Scotia. Four of their five campuses are located in OLMCs; the other is located in Halifax. Maintaining a close relationship with its president and other senior staff is achieved through a number of relationships between Agency staff and university officials.

Projects:

ACOA provided $691,520 to the Commission du tourisme acadien du Canada atlantique (CTACA) to support the CTACA in product development and marketing efforts.

This project will implement key activities included in the CTACA's operational plan, which includes product development and marketing to support the Acadian tourism brand "Experience Acadie." This project will allow the CTACA to deliver on its mandate to develop and market experiential Acadian travel products, supporting the tourism operators and ecosystem in the Acadian regions. According to the Atlantic Growth Strategy, tourism contributes more than $5 billion annually to the Atlantic Canadian economy, which is why it is one of the key priority pillars of the strategy. Through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, ACOA and the provinces have been able to develop a strategic and collaborative approach to tourism marketing, product development, training, and capacity building initiatives with national and provincial programs/priorities to increase industry's reach into international markets and improve industry's knowledge, professionalism and overall performance. A pan-Atlantic collaborative approach is being encouraged more than ever, which this project will support.

This project supports the Tourism Innovation Action Plan as it will create awareness and enhance growth and development of the francophone tourism cultural product in Atlantic Canada. The CTACA is implementing key elements of the Tourism Innovation Action Plan (TIAP), which includes increasing yield by creating unique experiential tourism products. The CTACA has also moved to a digital marketing strategy, using website and social media platforms to engage with operators and potential clients, which aligns with the TIAP pillar of using predicted marketing trends to create awareness of tourism products, experiences and regions.

ACOA plays an important role in the economic development of the Acadian and francophone minority communities and recognizes the significant contribution these communities make to the region's economy. This project supports this objective of the Agency and, as such, represents a strong positive measure in implementing Part VII (section 41) of the Official Languages Act. The implementation of the project will contribute to the cultural development of OLMCs in Atlantic Canada, as well as the continued promotion and use of the French language in Canadian society.

This project was supported under the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program.

ACOA provided $45,675 to La Société acadienne et francophone de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard to develop and deliver a human resources shared-service for francophone community organizations on the Island, with the assistance of an HR expert. Island francophone not-for-profit organizations will gain access to human resources expertise and support through hired professionals on a cost-shared and time-shared model. Several shared service models have been successfully implemented in the francophone community, including finance and communications.

As part of its strategic plan implementation, the applicant is proposing to offer professional human resources support to francophone not-for-profit organizations. Services will include strong hiring policies, increased opportunities for training and skills development, the ability to access professional answers to HR-related questions, higher retention of employees, improved clarity of roles and responsibilities for staff and volunteers, improved capacity of organizations to maintain or grow their level of activity, and improved general HR management.

Once established, the HR shared service will be linked to the shared finance service and will be self-sustaining.

Tangible Results

Please highlight the positive measures taken by your institution that enhanced the vitality and development of official language minority communities (OLMC). Please ensure to include activities taking place in the regions, where applicable.

To include in your response: a description of the initiatives, the impacts, the results and the success factors.

Through projects with high impact activities implemented across the Atlantic provinces, ACOA has contributed to the promotion of the vitality and development of OLMCs.

ACOA provided $1,211,595 to the Conseil économique du N.-B. to support the entrepreneurial recovery of francophone women in New Brunswick.

The Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick Inc. (CÉNB) is a not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1979 by francophone businesspeople. The mandate of the CÉNB is to provide its members, who are primarily francophone businesspeople, and the population with information on all issues involving economic development. The CÉNB has carved an important place for itself regarding the development of small and medium-sized businesses in New Brunswick and more particularly within the francophone population. This project aims to develop and implement a provincial coaching program fostering the entrepreneurial recovery of women belonging to francophone minority communities, including immigrant francophone women, for businesses in all sectors. The project aims to support women throughout the entire entrepreneurial recovery process by offering a whole range of tools tailored to their needs while maximizing the resources and services already provided by various partners in the ecosystem. Businesses in traditional underrepresented sectors (e.g., the manufacturing sector) will also be prioritized. The project will make it possible to implement a new program that will respond to the gaps identified in the francophone entrepreneurial ecosystem, that is, the lack of tools and services tailored to women’s needs regarding the specifics of entrepreneurial recovery. The project will aim to strengthen the commercial and entrepreneurial skills of women entrepreneurs by increasing the number of participants who have received support. The project will enable a greater number of entrepreneurial women to participate in sectors where they are traditionally under-represented and to participate in the growth of existing businesses. This project will provide support to a group of 10 to 15 women in minority communities who are primarily established in rural environments as well as francophone immigrant women, throughout the process of acquiring a business by providing advice and tools tailored to their needs. Priority will be given to businesses in traditionally under-represented sectors (e.g., the manufacturing sector).

In order to identify the specific barriers that women face during an entrepreneurial recovery project, an update of the situation will also be carried out. This will enable the creation, development and implementation of innovative tools that will be the basis of the proposed coaching program. As mentioned, women will be coached throughout the entire entrepreneurial recovery process, regardless of the model chosen (e.g., family transfer, external buyback, co-operative model, gradual buyback), according to all the stages of the continuum, from the search for a business, from buyback to profitability. A portion of the funding will also be dedicated to the promotion of women’s entrepreneurial potential and the leveraging of success stories in order to motivate other women in entrepreneurial projects.

This project was approved under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund – the non-commercial stream under the regional stream.

ACOA provided $99,075 to Fort La Tour Development Authority to support marketing and development of tourism experiences.

This project will support the development and delivery of in-person interpretation at the Fort La Tour site. The project will also support the marketing and communications needs for this new tourism asset. With 1.7 million visitors to the region, ensuring high quality experiences that either slow visitors down (resulting in them staying additional nights) or provide a reason for them to return is key to increasing profits for tourism providers not just in the region but the province. Fort La Tour is a provincial and national historic/ archaeological site located on Portland Point in Saint John between the Long Wharf and the Harbour Bridge.

Charles de La Tour built it in 1631 as a fur trading post. The site has cultural and historic roots for the First Nations and francophone communities, as well as the Loyalist settlers to Saint John. Fort La Tour was designated a Provincial Heritage Place in 1976 for its strategic location at the mouth of the Wolastoq (Saint John River) and its layered human history as indicated by its archaeological resources (including First Nations burial sites). Fort La Tour was designated a national historic site in 1923.

A key component of the TIAP is cluster development. The location of Fort La Tour – on the harbour passage on the Saint John waterfront – has the ability to bolster the tourism cluster of the City of Saint John. It will be an attraction for cruise ship passengers (linkages have already been made to Aquila Tours to offer this as a part of day-trip itineraries), tourists and the public.

Due to COVID-19 and the reduction in cruise ship traffic for the 2020 season and beyond, developing this cluster will support the Province of New Brunswick's "Staycation" strategy, which focuses on the local tourism economy in the province and/or the Maritimes. This is in response to the anticipated demand of tourists seeking a short-haul destination that can be reached by car.

The activities included in this project – creating a website and social media presence – also align with the Predicted Marketing Trends pillar of the TIAP, which promotes the online presence of tourism operators through websites and social media platforms, where they can connect with a global audience through cost-effective measures.

The linkages that can be developed from Place Fort La Tour to other areas within the province are vast and developing partnerships with likeminded organizations will be a guiding principle in the development and delivery of the experiential programming included in this project.

This project was funded under REGI.

ACOA provided $1,317,222 to Le Conseil de développement économique de la Nouvelle- Écosse (CDÉNÉ), which represents 66.366 percent of their operational budget for three years. The CDÉNÉ is a pan-provincial organization serving the OLMCs in Nova Scotia. Founded in 1999, it is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the economic advancement of the Acadian and francophone communities in Nova Scotia. The RDÉE is a business arm of the CDÉNÉ. As such, the CDÉNÉ can offer a broad blend of services to businesses, not-for-profit organizations, job seekers, economic immigrants and communities. The CDÉNÉ has offices in Argyle, Church Point, Halifax, Chéticamp and Petit-de-Grat. The Board of Directors is comprised of 8 to 11 economic stakeholders from throughout Nova Scotia.

Expected annual results (key performance indicators):

The CDÉNÉ is on track to achieve its targets with one fiscal year remaining in its funding agreement.

ACOA invested in many francophone-led businesses and not-for-profit organizations located in Nova Scotia’s OLMCs, which contributes to the vitality and development of these communities:

ACOA provided $19,275 to the Collège de l’Île to hire a consultant to develop and deliver an annual leadership and management course for the Island’s francophone community, in collaboration with partners.

The skills and knowledge of leaders, managers and directors of not-for-profits can dictate the success of their respective organizations. It is therefore imperative that these groups possess and maintain a strong understanding as relates to their governance, leadership, and management in order to provide effective services and supports to their communities. In particular, not-for-profit organizations may be exposed to a higher degree of general liability when leaders do not possess appropriate skills and understanding for their relative duties. This point is especially true in the context of topics such as fiduciary duty and human resources management. It is important to understand that boards of directors in Canada are regulated by strict rules, regulations and laws to ensure adequate protection to all.

A lack of basic understanding of such may place organizations in hazardous or precarious situations as relates to Canadian law; it may also result in various financial repercussions. The training will be targeted toward community leaders, particularly those engaged in not-for-profit organizations in Prince Edward Island. The training will cover a number of relevant topics for board members, management, volunteers, etc. The course will offer 10-12 hours of online classes, in addition to 37.5 hours of individual mentoring. The first cohort is expected to begin in late 2021.

ACOA provided $102,461 to the PEI RDÉE to implement the 17th year of its successful PERCÉ program.

The program ran for a 12-week period that began in spring 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The client pivoted its delivery and student intake to assist with the response to the increased need for essential workers, particularly around health care. As always, the internship period was preceded by a one-week training session and followed by a post-program evaluation. For the first time, the RDÉE offered the training session virtually. It was so successful, it anticipates continuing that practice post-COVID. A selection committee, led by the client, accepted and evaluated applications from post-secondary students, with priority given to students studying off-Island.

The RDÉE and stakeholders recognized that these students are more likely to establish careers elsewhere and, therefore, showcasing opportunities in Prince Edward Island encouraged them to establish permanently in Prince Edward Island following their studies. French communication skills are viewed as an asset in terms of serving an international market as well as the local market, which has a growing number of French-speaking immigrants. This focus was also an opportunity for the Agency to support the vitality of francophone and Acadian communities and their development, as per the Official Languages Act.

The RDÉE identified 30 students out of over 100 applicants in 2020 and matched them with suitable employers. The selection committee would normally focus on the province's and ACOA's priority sectors (such as biosciences, manufacturing, ICT, aerospace, etc.) as well as sectors that are faced with a shortage of skilled employees. In 2020, the priority was to identify essential jobs related to the pandemic. Among the top criteria for potential employers was their ability to provide permanent employment beyond the scope of the internship.

The intent was not merely to provide the employer with a summer student but a qualified individual who met their long-term HR needs. The opportunity for permanent employment was key to ensuring participants established their careers and their families in Prince Edward Island.

On average, over the last five years, 81 percent of participants were offered positions immediately following their internships. In 2021, an updated survey will be issued to participants. Employers have overwhelmingly reported a positive experience with the PERCÉ students, praising the initial one-week training sessions that prepare interns for the workplace.

Please highlight the positive measures taken by your institution that contributed to fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society. Please include activities taking place in the regions, if applicable.

To include in your response: a description of the initiatives, the impacts, the success factors and the results.

In 2020-2021, ACOA contributed to fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society through its various program delivery activities.

ACOA provided $515,000 to CBDC Chaleur for an Advanced Manufacturing pilot project in northern New Brunswick.

This pilot project includes a number of companies in the Chaleur region and introduces them to the concept of Industry 4.0 in two phases: a digital assessment of the opportunities presented to the company and the proof of concept. The Centre de développement et d'entrepreneurship Chaleur Inc. (CBDC Chaleur) is part of the network of CBDCs. The CBDCs are autonomous, not-for-profit corporations that serve business development needs in rural areas in Atlantic Canada. They assist in the creation of small businesses, and in the expansion, modernization and stabilization of existing businesses. They offer both technical and financial services for entrepreneurs in their respective regions. The CBDC Chaleur office is located in Bathurst, New Brunswick. The Board of Directors is made up of 11 volunteer members from various business sectors, representing different regions within its territory.

The project will allow the client to conduct Pilot Digital Opportunity Assessments (Phase 1) and Proof of Concept (Phase 2) with industry participants. This first step in the development of advanced manufacturing should have a snowball effect with other manufacturers as awareness around advanced manufacturing increases and companies start to seek out advanced manufacturing solutions to improve productivity. Through this initiative, the client will bring advanced manufacturing top of mind to northern New Brunswick manufacturers. As a result, this pilot will provide the Agency with a better knowledge of the northern New Brunswick advanced manufacturing expertise ecosystem and its capacity to assist SMEs and New Brunswick manufacturers in implementing advanced manufacturing in their processes.

New Brunswick has 857 manufacturing establishments, of which 54 percent have fewer than 10 employees. This project supports francophone businesses and represents a pilot that will attempt to establish a viable model for the development and support of advanced manufacturing for SMEs in New Brunswick even when challenged with a declining and aging population.

ACOA provided $428,610 to the Province of New Brunswick in support of the Study & Stay initiative in that province.

Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL) is the department within the Government of New Brunswick that holds responsibility for post-secondary education and population growth. As a partner in the Atlantic Growth Strategy, the Government of New Brunswick has identified PETL as the lead contact for projects relating to community inclusiveness, skills capacity and immigration. Study & Stay in New Brunswick is one of four such projects funded by ACOA in Atlantic Canada.

Arising from the federal-provincial collaboration through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, Study & Stay projects in Atlantic Canada were modelled after an existing program created by EduNova Co-operative Ltd. of Halifax. The project provides cultural awareness and career advice as well as professional networking opportunities to international students approaching graduation from a publicly funded post-secondary educational institution. The objective is to facilitate the transition from academic study to career opportunity for these well-educated international students who could fill the highly skilled labour needs of provincial employers. Study & Stay in New Brunswick was designed to deliver separate English and French cohorts of equal size, recognizing the critical need for skilled workers in all provincial communities.

ACOA provided $58,655 to Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité de Terre-Neuve et Labrador (RDÉE TNL) throughout 2019 and 2020 to produce a French-language tourism guide for Newfoundland and Labrador and to enhance its tourism website (www.exploretnl.ca) to meet market demand.

The tourism guide is available in hard copy, and a digital version is available on RDÉE TNL’s website, which serves to promote French in Canadian society. By providing French-language tourism resources that promote the province as a tourist destination to the francophone market, the project will foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society. As such, the project is expected to attract more francophone tourists and enhance their tourism experience.

One of the key factors for success is RDÉE TNL’s partnership with the provincial Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation (TCAR), through which the tourism guide is distributed free of charge via Visitor Information Centres. This collaboration by ACOA Newfoundland and Labrador, RDÉE TNL and TCAR is critical to the project’s success.

ACOA provided $100,000 to Société Saint-Pierre to coordinate and deliver Acadian cultural tourism products and experiences in the OLMC of Chéticamp.

The popularity of Cape Breton music and dance and the interest in the local culture are key underpinnings to Chéticamp’s economic activity. Visitors can experience the tourism offerings in English and in French.

This project is also in line with the 2015 report entitled The Cape Breton Acadian Cultural Tourism Experience - Product Opportunities Analysis. One of the strengths identified in this plan is the existence of authentic Acadian cultural communities in Cape Breton, situated primarily in Chéticamp and Isle Madame.

This project is consistent with the mandate of the Atlantic Canada Acadian Tourism Commission (Experience Acadie) in terms of the development of new authentic Acadian tourism experiences. A letter from Experience Acadie confirms their support.

The Community Economic Plan for the Acadian and Francophone Community of Chéticamp states its global strategy for the integration of arts and culture aimed at bringing together artists and the community through co-operation and collaboration. One of its priorities in this regard is to reinforce economic development for cultural entrepreneurs in all sectors. One of the ways to achieve this goal is for artists to participate in development activities for the creation of tourism experiences that add value to the community. This project is consistent with this plan as it integrates these artists into community activities that deliver an Acadian cultural tourism experience.

La Société Saint-Pierre plays an integral role in the community, operating the local visitor information centre and a museum. Additionally, it produces and distributes a regional guide and coordinates community programming for the Chéticamp Acadian region, including Festival de l’Escaouette, an Acadian cultural event in Chéticamp during the summer months. Festival de l'Escaouette has evolved over the past 35 years from a one-weekend community festival to a one-month major tourism event for the community. This project supports existing businesses and community infrastructure in Chéticamp and will assist merchants over the long-term by increasing traffic to the area, resulting in incremental revenue. The successful implementation of this project is expected to result in the establishment of new businesses, the creation of long-term employment and an increase in the number of tourists. This initiative helps to create a sense of community pride through the promotion of community values and the creation of a safe and welcoming community with a high quality of life.

Other expected results of this initiative include increased cultural experiences, improvements to Cape Breton's tourism product, the strengthening of Cape Breton's tourism destination appeal and the creation of opportunities for cultural preservation, education and economic development. The tourism industry in Chéticamp contributes greatly to the economy in the region.

ACOA provided $48,621 to La Société éducative de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard Inc. The Collège de l’Île has recognized the need to recruit beyond the local market in order to sustain its programs as well as to train students for the P.E.I. labour force.

Recruitment and retention of international talent and the development of high-demand skills is an essential and increasingly important component of a growing economy, particularly in Prince Edward Island, which has evolved substantially in the knowledge-based sectors. Delivering the college's programming abroad, as well as recruiting and retaining international students to the college's P.E.I. campuses has the potential for significant impact on the province's trade and investment relationships with foreign countries. The college targeted the development of a professionally executed recruitment program into Mexico aimed at francophone students. It also initiated work in both Cameroon and Morocco to build these potential markets. Note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visits to the target countries were not possible; however, the applicant was able to alter its approach to continue to promote the college virtually though its in-market post-secondary partners. This project continues until the end of March 2022.

Key Collaborations contributing to results

Did your institution collaborate with other federal institutions or partners (sectoral working groups, municipalities, provinces/territories, post-secondary institutions, the private sector) on a program, project or other initiative to enhance the vitality and development of official language minority communities and/or the advancement of English and French in Canadian society?

To include in your response: a description of these collaborations and partnerships, the results achieved as well as the success factors.

ACOA implements initiatives or financial projects in order to collaborate with other federal institutions or partners to enhance the vitality and development of OLMCs and/or the advancement of English and French in Canadian society.

Example of initiatives

In Nova Scotia, ACOA hosted a virtual meeting with the Congrès Mondial Acadien 2024 (CMA 2024) Organizing Committee on August 31, 2020. The focus of the discussion was on the vision and goals of the CMA 2024.

The next CMA is scheduled to occur in southwest Nova Scotia in the summer of 2024. The Agency’s Economic Development manager responsible for service delivery in the southwestern area has been assigned to work with Canadian Heritage, the provincial Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, the Municipality of the District of Clare, the Municipality of the District of Argyle, and the Executive Director of the 2024 CMA.

The Agency anticipates receiving a significant funding request during the summer of 2021. The collaboration between these key partners is critical given the magnitude of the event and associated costs. The Agency representative organizes monthly meetings with the CMA Executive Director in order to support the development of a funding request. Funders meetings will begin once the funding requests have been submitted.

Projects

ACOA provided CBDC Chaleur with funding of $15,375 to increase young people’s awareness of entrepreneurship and essential business skills.

This project aims to help CBDC Chaleur Inc. to support the region’s young people by coordinating various activities inspiring them to start a business and offering them opportunities to acquire new skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration. This initiative will make it possible to initiate young francophones to entrepreneurship, business development, network development, mentoring and development of the skills of the future.

Traditional educational and training models do not respond very well to the changing needs of the economy and this initiative will make it possible to highlight partnerships with the private sector. A more direct contact with the players of the business world will be prioritized in order to address the gap in young people’s skills. Mentoring provided directly by business leaders is a significant aspect of the project.

A lack of experience and significant linkages with employers are two of the main barriers to employment and retention of young people in their region, particularly in rural regions like the Chaleur region. Owing to this initiative, young people will be able to familiarize themselves with many concepts and tools available in their region, and learn from the experiences of business owners they are aware of. By facilitating the development of these exchanges and the development of networks, and by prioritizing the development of skills required by workers for success in today’s labour market, young people are more likely to stay in their communities and participate in their growth.

This project is related to the Agency’s priorities in support of economically diversified and inclusive communities, that is, a resilient community encouraging entrepreneurship among young people. More precisely, this project will help promote the development of new expertise thanks to the innovation of young francophones in the region. The various partners involved in this project include, among others, the Chambre de commerce Chaleur, Club Bizness (NBCC Bathurst), the Népisiguit Bathurst High School, NBCC Bathurst (Business Administration Program) and NBCC Miramichi (Business Administration Program).

ACOA provided $3,957,000 to Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to support the expansion of FutureNB to address skills gaps in New Brunswick.

This project supports the expansion and scale-up of FutureNB to include students from K-12 to post-secondary education and addresses barriers to connecting students to the labour market. This initiative will alleviate the talent/skills gap and labour shortages facing New Brunswick companies and organizations and will assist in retaining youth in the province. Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is the department within the Government of New Brunswick that holds responsibility for post-secondary education and population growth.

Experiential learning complements conventional education methods by allowing students to test their skills in new environments and adds to the benefits of an academic credential. In the process of connecting students with real-life opportunities, educators and employers are also better-connected, leading to valuable knowledge transfers that enrich both work and learning. Experiential learning opportunities tend to fall into three categories: Work-Integrated Learning, Experiential Learning, and Co-/Extra-Curricular Learning.

In recognition of critical labour availability gaps in the province, experiential learning has been identified as an essential link for talent development, youth retention and meeting immediate and projected labour market needs across all sectors of the economy.

Since 2016, ACOA New Brunswick has supported the enhancement of experiential learning as a tool in building New Brunswick's talent pipeline by increasing critical links between youth and future employers with three key early investments. This innovative approach to connecting students to business will alleviate the provincial labour shortage and skills gap today and in the future, as employers access the talent pipeline with the goal of recruiting and retaining skilled youth in the province. The program will support youth skills development to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on current and future youth employment opportunities.

ACOA continues to prioritize building the talent pipeline to remedy Atlantic Canada's growing skills and labour shortages, which remains one of the region's major barriers to business and economic growth. The economic prosperity of the province, particularly with a growing population of seniors, is dependent on the retention of youth in the labour market. Increasingly, traditional education and training models are failing to meet the evolving needs of the economy. An approach is needed to address skills shortages while increasing workforce diversity to enhance business performance and innovation. Among other initiatives, ACOA has been focusing its efforts on youth and supporting experience-based learning models that partner with the private sector.

ACOA provided $112,263 to the Friends of the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico Inc. to promote Acadian culture and history in Prince Edward Island to visitors and residents through hands-on experiences and interactive displays.

The Friends of the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico Inc. is the responsible organization for the site The Farmers' Bank of Rustico, a building of national importance, an important monument of P.E.I. architecture, as well as a symbol of Acadian survival. The Bank operated from 1864 to 1894 and was an important link in the establishment of Les Caisses populaires in Quebec and Credit Unions in the rest of Canada. Visitors can learn about historical events and figures through various experiences, which include enjoying an authentic Acadian meal prepared in the outdoor bake oven, making traditional costumes or weaving an Acadian basket.

The property has also been designated as a National Historical and Architectural Site. The Farmers' Bank and Doucet House target both francophone and anglophone visitors to Rustico; staff at the Farmers' Bank and Doucet House are bilingual and ensure that all communications are offered in both official languages. The property has undergone significant restorations over the years to be able to welcome visitors. Under the current project, the applicant has received support to renovate and improve the property (as per a consultant’s report) to attract visitors by creating new food and entertainment experiences as well as preserve the existing property. More recently, the former Credit Union building became part of the property, and the applicant is restoring it to develop an Acadian Welcome Centre. The interior will showcase interpretive heritage displays and interactive computer terminals, and interpreters will offer information about Acadian sites and businesses in the area and in the other five Acadian regions of the Island. It will also include a small retail component that will feature locally made products. Maps and information panels highlighting the various Acadian regions will be installed outside the Welcome Centre. Financial partners on the project include Canadian Heritage and several departments of the Province of Prince Edward Island.

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a situation resulting in extensive government measures implemented to support Canadians, including Official language minority communities (OLMCs).

Did your institution take part in COVID-19 response measures? If so, how did you consider the needs of OLMCs and the advancement of English and French in the application of these measures?

Please describe your activities as well as the results.

ACOA contributed to the COVID-19 response measures, while considering the needs of OLMCs and the advancement of English and French, through initiatives and the delivery of related programs.

Examples of initiatives

ACOA Nova Scotia organized roundtables with Minister Joly and francophone stakeholders to better understand the impact of COVID-19. The Vice-President for ACOA Nova Scotia and the local area account manager also attended.

ACOA Nova Scotia took part in COVID-19 response measures and, as it adjusted to online services, found an opportunity to provide enhanced services to all of Nova Scotia’s OLMCs. Whereas all OLMCs have always received services in the language of their choice, they now have access to all of the Agency’s bilingual staff regardless of location. That is, bilingual Agency staff located in southwest Nova Scotia are working with Acadian clients located on Cape Breton Island through the MSTeams platform.

Projects

ACOA provided $7,606,500 to the New Brunswick Association of CBDCs (NBACBDCs) through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to deliver the Urban Main Street Loan Initiative in New Brunswick’s major urban centres.

This project is providing the CBDCs of the NBACBDCs with working capital relief funds to support SMEs throughout New Brunswick's three major urban centres – Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton – which are struggling to recover after the significant economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This project supports the Government of Canada's approach to mitigate financial pressure experienced by SMEs, which are critical to the economic recovery of local communities. The Urban Main Street Loan Initiative is modelled on the loan program the Government of Canada implemented in rural communities across the country through funding to the Community Futures Organizations.

The unprecedented global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the survival of many businesses and organizations. Ongoing market uncertainty, significant economic downturns and financial pressures cannot be effectively mitigated with traditional financing measures. The RRRF is a priority of the Government of Canada. The program was created specifically to provide economic support to SMEs across the country that were unable to access funding through other federal COVID-19 relief measures. The RRRF complements those programs, as well as those offered by other levels of government or industry, and takes into account regional needs and realities.

Under a separate agreement, the NBACBDCs has delivered the RRRF program in its established rural jurisdictions through federal funding provided across the Community Futures national network.

ACOA provided $138,198 to the Office du tourisme Edmundston Madawaska Inc. (OTEM) to provide assistance to mitigate economic hardships resulting from COVID-19 through the RRRF.

Due to the closed borders, the OTEM is remotely isolated from any traffic from Quebec and Ontario, which are its usual tourism markets. Even with the opening of the Atlantic Bubble, the region has seen no increase in tourism traffic and, in fact, has experienced a decline in overnight stays. The impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry in the region has been significant. Providing support to the OTEM will allow it to continue to promote the region, thereby increasing tourism revenues by marketing unique and competitive tourism experiences.

With the response to COVID-19 and the restrictions that have been implemented, OTEM's members (e.g. restaurants, museums and attractions) have been concentrating their efforts on reopening and working within new health and safety guidelines.

Due to the financial burden that has been felt due to COVID-19, very few of these businesses will have the means for attracting tourists to the region. This role will be filled by OTEM's core activities, which will support local businesses by promoting and encouraging tourism attractions in the Edmundston-Madawaska region.

The RRRF funding will allow them to continue supporting the tourism sector and remain agile to respond to changes as they occur with COVID-19.

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