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Final Report

February 2008

Table of Contents

Acknowledgment

The Evaluation Division would like to thank senior management, directors, managers and client service agents who were called upon and took the time from their busy schedule during the months of September to November 2007 to provide various types of information to assist us with this evaluation.

Executive Summary

This report presents the results of the evaluation of the Multi-language Service Initiative (MLSI), conducted on behalf of Service Canada (SC). Service Canada is the Government of Canada's one-stop service delivery network. In partnership with other departments, agencies and levels of government, it provides Canadians with easy access to a growing range of government programs and services. In 2005, the Service Canada delivery network consisted of some 320 in-person offices, a national telephone information service, on-line services, as well as some 96 mobile and outreach service sites that provided access to government services and information for Canadians living in remote, rural or northern communities.

Upon its inception in 2005 Service Canada stated its assumption that a low level of awareness of Government of Canada (GoC) programs and services, as well as a low take-up of benefits and entitlements existed among certain client groups because of the inability of some clients to communicate in English or French. The Federal government made a commitment in 2006 “to improve opportunity for all Canadians, including Aboriginal people and new immigrants”.

To reach more Canadians in more communities, Service Canada's Multi-language Service Initiative (MLSI) was introduced in 2005. The MLSI began by encompassing the existing multi-language services being provided by a number of its service centres. By early 2006, Service Canada started formally to pilot four of five (4) in-person service delivery approaches.

The in-person channels piloted are: (1) Service Canada staff who speak the targeted languages are used to deliver Multi-language service to clients in selected Service Canada Centres (SCCs); (2) Third-party telephone interpretation service is used when SCC staff does not speak the language of the client with service provided within a SCC; (3) Service Canada Centre staff are used who speak the targeted languages to deliver Multi-language service through scheduled or mobile outreach service; (4) Service Canada staff are accompanied by an accredited interpreter to deliver multi-language service through mobile outreach; and (5) A contractual relationship or a collaborative arrangement with a community partner is used to deliver Multi-language service in Service Canada Community Offices. Approach #4 was not piloted in 2006-07, but was researched and assessed for future implementation.

The purpose of the evaluation is to address five major evaluation issues: relevance of the MLSI; design and delivery (including best practices); early impacts and results; cost-effectiveness; and monitoring (performance measurement).

The evaluation objectives are: (1) To analyze the relevance of in-person multi-languages services (MLS) for addressing barriers to communication in an official language of Canada (Newcomers, Aboriginal People and other Canadians who may require MLS); (2) To assess the design and implementation of the MLS pilot projects; (3) To identify best practices by reviewing Canadian and international practices; (4) To assess the impacts on the achievement of Service Canada's strategic objectives (citizen-centred service and collaborative and networked government); (5) To assess the impacts on staff and clients; (6) To determine/estimate the costs and benefits of MLS, especially by comparing the different approaches with a view to proposing the most cost-effective approaches; and (7) provide evidence for the development of an MLSI business case.

The overall evaluation approach is based on an Evaluation Evidence Matrix. Three data collection methods were used followed by a meta-analysis of the three lines of evidence. Data collection methods are: a) review of national and international literature, administrative and financial files and records; b) 54 key informant interviews; and, c) a telephone survey of 148 MLSI clients.

Key Conclusions

Key Conclusions about MLSI Relevance: (1) The MLSI statement of objectives and the nature of its activities are consistent with both priorities of the Government of Canada and with Service Canada's strategic objectives, in particular to provide integrated, one-stop service based on citizens' needs and help deliver better policy outcomes. (2) MLSI meets genuine and growing needs of Aboriginal Canadians and Newcomers who are not sufficiently capable of accessing and benefiting from Government services to which they are entitled. (3) While MLSI is targeted to the people who need the service, multi-language services appear to have been offered to persons capable of speaking in at least one of Canada's official languages. This may have inadvertently contributed to a higher than necessary workload and increase in costs.

Key Conclusions about Effectiveness of MLSI Design and Delivery: (1) All four in-person delivery approaches piloted are entirely consistent with those that had been planned. (2) MLSI employs known good practices, but other practices have been identified that have not yet been considered as pilot options, such as more extensive use of the Internet and machine-translation. Their usage may enhance effectiveness and efficiency. (3) In-person multi-language services at SCC are provided where a substantial demand in a targeted foreign language (e.g. Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Arabic) warrants provision. This approach might be enhanced by inviting Regions to compete for specially funded MLS Centres of Excellence designed to deliver local client services in specified languages, as well as provide language-specific leadership at the regional and national levels by means of model facilities. Such an approach might be not only effective by focusing on expertise, but also efficient by generating knowledge and experience that can be readily transferred. (4) Client satisfaction with MLSI services is high to very high among Aboriginal Canadians and Newcomers, respectively. As their satisfaction varies according to the delivery approach used this finding indicates a need to differentiate the service delivery approach for other client segments. (5) Management practices might be improved, in particular in the areas of internal and external communication and staff training. (6) Staff work load is intertwined with the choice of delivery approach, and tailoring the right delivery approach to local needs is a management challenge. The right choices will have work load and budgetary implications. (7) The MLSI was intended to support the One-Stop-Shop service concept. There is a potential for MLSI to build on its current scope by helping its clients to access needed information offered by other federal, provincial, municipal and private entities.

Key conclusions about Early Results/Success: (1) Aboriginal and Newcomer clients, as well as key informants, consider MLSI effective in improving access and take-up rates to services and benefits offered by the Government of Canada. (2) MLSI contributed to the formation and maintenance of effective partnerships with community organizations. (3) Early success might have been even greater if the MLSI had been promoted more effectively and if funds had been granted for the promotion of the MLSI.

Key Conclusions about Cost-Effectiveness and Alternatives: (1) A business case for a long-term MLS service delivery is being developed using MLSI pilot experiences and the results of this evaluation as evidence. Systematic and detailed analysis of costs and benefits for MLS has not yet been done. A first analysis based on limited financial and available client data is found in Annex E. Due to poor planning and rapid implementation of the pilot, cost estimates are weak and should be treated as estimates only. Appendix E outlines all assumptions used to estimate costs associated with delivering multi-language services. (2) The analysis completed for the evaluation can confirmed that the Outreach approach incurs the highest per client cost (about $70 per client) and in-office services the lowest (about $10 per client). Third party telephone interpretation and community partner delivery do not differ significantly in terms of cost per client (about $30 per client). Cost per client per delivery approach should be interpreted with caution. A majority of client service agents spent 1% to 3% of their time throughout a year to provide MLS at piloted SCCs. For the Outreach approach, cost per client varies significantly with the number of clients seen and served. As each service delivery approach is associated with a different depth and quality of service it is not surprising that the cost per unit of service varies. However, and as noted, costing estimates are weak and must be interpreted with caution. (3) Several complementary approaches merit closer consideration for potential enhancements of the effectiveness and efficiency of MLSI services. (4) Given the perceived variability of need of different languages groups, their size and geographic concentrations, as well as the widely varying costs of providing MLS, the choice of MLS local delivery approaches might best be left to the discretion of management of Service Canada Regions and centres, in the context of their future MLSI approved budgets.

Key Conclusions about Monitoring and Performance Indicators: (1) Service Canada is not collecting the kind and quality of data needed to determine adequately whether the pilot MLSI is achieving the expected results. (2) Service Canada lacks a baseline measurement of the GoC program and service take up rates of clients who might need access to MLS against which to make future comparisons. (3) Service Canada's First Come, First Served computer tracking system does not require the mandatory recording of the language, other than English or French, in which a client was served. This limits the usefulness of the system for reporting on the outcomes/results achieved for clients served using MLS. (4) Achievement of the MLS ultimate outcomes currently included in the Draft MLSI Logic Model cannot be accurately determined within normal service delivery time and resource constraints. Service Canada could not presume to show a direct connection between the MLSI activities and the ultimate outcomes suggested by the Draft MLSI Logic Model. Particularly, at the pilot stage, it is unclear if MLS reduces integration challenges for Newcomers or strengthens and enhances Aboriginal communities served by Service Canada. Other socio-economic factors, overall governmental priorities and community service settings may influence the indicated outcomes for clients that require MLS as much as, or even more, than the provision of information and transactional assistance through MLSI.

Key Areas for Suggested Improvements

  • 1. MLSI be directed exclusively to clients who speak insufficient English or French to gain access to, and benefit from, services of the Government of Canada.
  • 2. Service Canada enhances its MLSI management practices, in particular in the areas of communication and staff training.
  • 3. Service Canada improves and develops performance indicators as well as financial data.
  • 4. Service Canada provides a strong in-person tracking system that will provide timely and accurate data to inform the assessment of costs and benefits of the MLSI in a consistent manner.

Key Areas for Consideration

  • 5. To enhance multi-language services being offered at SCCs, the Initiative can consider adopting the concept of MLS Centres of Excellence, where regions are invited to compete for additional funds that provide language-specific training at the regional and national levels. MLS Centres of Excellence aim to generate knowledge and best practices that can be readily transferred within the MLS Network.
  • 6. Service Canada considers exploring the usefulness and potential for One-Stop-Shop service for MLSI to help its clients to access needed information offered by other federal departments and agencies or partnering provincial, municipal and private entities.

Management Response

Management response to the Evaluation of the Multi-Language Service Initiative (February 25, 2008)

Section 1: Service delivery and Evaluation context

The Federal government made a commitment in 2006 “to improve opportunity for all Canadians, including Aboriginal peoples and new immigrants”. The official launch of Service Canada in September 2005 represented a significant transformation in service delivery within the Government of Canada with a focus on citizen-centred service. In 2006, Multi-language Service Initiative (MLSI) was launched to meet Service Canada's public commitment to reach more Canadians in more communities; test and evaluate different approaches for in-person service delivery, and make an informed business decision on expanding beyond information services. The MLSI began by encompassing the existing multi-language services being provided by a number of its service centres. By early 2006, Service Canada started formally to pilot four (4) of five (5) in-person service delivery approaches to Newcomers and Aboriginal clients.

As a pilot initiative and at the time of the evaluation, Service Canada delivers Multi-language services (MLS) to clients in 14 Service Canada Centres (SCCs). Third-party telephone interpretation service is available at 41 SCCs and sites. MLS is also delivered through scheduled or mobile outreach service in Alberta, British Columbia, Nunavut, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Contractual relationship or a collaborative arrangement with a community partner was used in Alberta to deliver MLS.

The purpose of the MLSI evaluation was to assess the needs for MLS, to evaluate the implementation of the piloted approaches to the provision of services in multi-languages, and to identify early impacts and results. Cost-effectiveness of four approaches being piloted and performance measurement were also examined.

Section 2: Overall comments on evaluation report

The Capra International Inc. evaluation report provides helpful observations and direction on the future development of the Aboriginal and Newcomer service strategies and business cases for the provision of multi-language services.

Management is pleased to note that evidence gathered in the evaluation demonstrates that “there is a need for MLSI, both among Aboriginal Canadians and among Newcomers;” that the “MLSI employs known, good practices” in terms of it's approach to service delivery; and that the client surveys demonstrated high satisfaction among Aboriginals and very high satisfaction among Newcomer with the extent to which the MLSI satisfies their needs.

In addition to Capra's observations, management noted that the evaluation report raises an important finding in Sections 2.2.3 and in 2.2.4 which outlines that “fundamental to best practice is the development of an MLS policy.” This underscores the importance of developing a Government of Canada policy on the provision and the delivery of multi-language services to the public we serve. The Service Canada MLSI evaluation report recalls the European Union's (EU) evaluation of its Multi-Lingual Information Society Programme (MLIS) published in 2000. The EU evaluation found that :

“… in considering the conclusions of this evaluation and the possibilities for further interventions in the field of the multilingual information society it would be helpful if there was a comprehensive EU language policy that could provide a framework for all relevant interventions.”

This finding is important and management recognizes the need for a Government of Canada policy framework that provides a coherent approach to the effective, efficient and equitable delivery of services in languages other than English and French to the public we serve. Protected

Leadership in implementing the recommendations contained in this report will be provided by Citizen Service Branch Management Team in collaboration with the regions, who are driving the MLS Initiative, and partner organizations, and will be overseen by the Assistant Deputy Minister of Citizen Service Branch, Service Canada. The recommendations contained in the evaluation report will be addressed within operational plans and service delivery strategies to be undertaken by CSB and the regions in 2008-09.

Language of service continues to be a strategic priority and has been identified in the Service Canada 3-Year Workplan.

Evaluation Observations and Management Response/Action(s) to be Undertaken

  1. Action plan required : MLSI be directed exclusively to clients who speak insufficient English or French to gain access to, and benefit from, services of the Government of Canada.

    Management Response : Partially agree.

    Given the small sample of Aboriginal clients interviewed/observed for the evaluation report, this may be the case with a limited number of Aboriginal clients. However, there is no evidence provided by the evaluation report that this is the case with Newcomers.

    At times, Aboriginal and Newcomer's basic knowledge of French and/or English is insufficient to ensure an accurate interaction. Even if a client can have a basic conversation in either of the official languages, they may not fully understand written documentation or have the skills to understand complicated information. In these cases, Citizen Service Agents (CSA) should have the ability to provide support to their clients when they observe that significant language barriers exist.

    Although some Aboriginal clients may have sufficient knowledge of English and French to conduct a transaction, the decision by CSAs to provide service in the client's preferred language is often a valid one. CSAs who speak the client's language or dialect often share the client's social, cultural, or ethnic background. This facilitates trust, comfort, and acceptance of the service delivery process. This fact is validated in Section 3.1.1 “Unexpected Positive Effects” of the Evaluation Report. For this reason, it is important to encourage our staff that speak Aboriginal languages to continue doing so with members of their communities, whether in an SCC or an Outreach site.

    However, we agree that every effort should be made to continue to limit MLS to Newcomers who speak ‘insufficient' English or French to gain access to, and benefit from, services of the Government of Canada.

    Action to be taken :

    • 1.1 Clarify that, in addition to improving access for those who cannot speak English and French, we also aim to support the vitality of our Aboriginal cultures by adding these objectives to Aboriginal Peoples Service Strategy.
      Planned Completion Date : May 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Emerging Segments / Service Policy
    • 1.2 We will work with management in the regions to develop information products f or regional management and service delivery staff to advise that MLS services available (on a pilot basis) in select SCCs and outreach sites are to be promoted and offered to:
      Planned Completion Date : May 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy
      • Newcomers clients who are unable to speak ‘sufficient' English or French to access GoC programs and services; and
      • Aboriginal clients who are unable to speak English or French or who prefer, for cultural reasons, to be served in their native language.
    • 1.3 We will continue to consult with MLS providers in other jurisdictions to determine best practices in this regard.
      Planned Completion Date : Ongoing
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy
  2. Action plan required : Service Canada enhances its MLSI management practices, in particular in the areas of communication and staff training.

    Management Response : We recognize that the lack of promotion of fact sheets and MLS services in pilot sites across the country has hindered the take-up by Aboriginal and Newcomer clients. We also acknowledge that disseminating information to our employees in a timely manner is key to effective service delivery.

    However, the low key approach to external communication of pilots was a strategic decision made by Service Canada senior management in February 2007 in order to better manage public expectations until a final decision is made on a long term commitment to the delivery of services in multi-languages. Protected

    For these reasons, the MLS fact sheets are the only products/service that may be actively promoted at this time. Any other enhancement to external and internal communications must be aligned with recent direction from SCMB.

    With regards to training, the Service Excellence training currently has a module on Cultural Competence that addresses cultural awareness. Service Canada has also developed a training program for the newcomers client segment which will also address cultural awareness (see action item 2.7 below.)

    Action to be taken :

    External Communications/Promotion:

    We will increase the promotion of the fact sheets in Aboriginal and foreign languages by:

    • 2.1 Posting fact sheets on the Service Canada Internet site in such a manner that they will be easily accessed by the targeted audiences, community partners and SC staff.
      Planned Completion Date : March 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy, Web-Channel; PPCA: Communications
    • 2.2 In collaboration with regions, we will inform community partners such as Aboriginal Band Councils and Immigrant Serving Organizations of the availability of the fact sheets on the internet, and seeking their support to distribute them to the target audiences.
      Planned Completion Date : Summer/Fall 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Emerging Segments, Partnerships; REGIONS
    • 2.3 Updating the MLS communication plan for 2008-09 to state that a low key approach must continue to be used by regions in the promotion of MLS pilots to the local communities.
      Planned Completion Date : March 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy; PPCA: Communications

    Internal Communications and Staff Training:

    To support the ongoing publication of fact sheets and the continuing pilots during FY 08-09, we will enhance our internal communications by:

    • 2.4 Working with the regions and other branches to develop and distribute to service delivery staff information products on:
      • 2.4.1.1 the topics and languages of fact sheets available on the internet;
      • 2.4.1.2 other MLS services available to clients on a pilot basis and the targeted audiences; and
      • 2.4.1.3 for those piloting telephone interpretation, how to work effectively with professional interpreters.
      Planned Completion Date : May 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy
    • 2.5 Posting internal communication products on the Service Canada intranet site.
      Planned Completion Date : July 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Web-Channel; PPCA: Communications
    • 2.6 Continuing with monthly teleconferences and e-mails with regional management staff to address issues with the delivery of MLS.
      Planned Completion Date : Ongoing
      Responsibility : CSB : In-Person Channel, Service Policy
    • 2.7 In collaboration with the Service Canada College, the Newcomers to Canada Client Segment team will provide a “Newcomers to Canada ” online computer based training course which will include a reminder to staff of the availability of the MLSI fact sheets in foreign languages.
      Planned Completion Date : Starting 2008-09
      Responsibility : CSB : Emerging Segments; PPCA: Service Canada College
     
  3. Action plan required : Service Canada improves and develops performance indicators as well as financial data.

    Management Response : Agree with observation.

    Management is committed to the continued development of its performance measurement data systems and management processes generally. Service Canada (CSB) is implementing a results-based management practice for all client segment strategies, service offerings and service policies it develops and implements in compliance with the Treasury Board Policy on Service and the Directive on Service Standards and Client Satisfaction Measurement for External Services. Service Canada's Corporate Performance Framework includes the measurement of three of the most important and universal drivers of clients' perceptions about service quality, namely access to services, timeliness and accuracy as well as the demonstration of value for money and achievement of public policy outcomes.

    CSB is also working to improve its systems tracking capability in order to capture information on clients who are served in Aboriginal and in Foreign languages. CSB recognizes that performance information must not only be collected, it must be used to make decisions on service policy development and delivery. Such information will be reviewed regularly and incorporated into decision-making on an ongoing basis throughout CSB.

    With regards to financial data, there are no approved budgets for the MLSI fact sheets and pilots. These activities are currently being undertaken and funded within national and regional budgets. While there are detailed financial data available on the production of MLS fact sheets and on two (2) of the four (4) ongoing pilots: the telephone interpretation service (CanTalk contract) and the Service Canada Community Office, we are lacking detailed financial data for the two (2) remaining in-person pilot approaches: in SCCs and Outreach.

    Action to be taken :

    Performance Indicators:

    These are the actions to be taken for managing the MLSI effectively:

    • 3.1 Develop a Performance Measurement Strategy (PMS) for the MLSI which includes the revision of the Logic Model and ensure alignment with the PMS for the Newcomers to Canada and Aboriginal Client Segments. The PMS for MLSI will be based on current service commitments and will be revised once a final decision is made on formalizing the MLSI pilots.
      Planned Completion Date : September 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Segment Leads, Service Policy, Performance Measurement
    • 3.2 Develop performance measures and reasonable targets; define corresponding business processes and systems requirements.
      Planned Completion Date : September 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy, In-Person Channel, Performance Measurement
    • 3.3 Identify and implement priority components of the PMS for MLSI.
      Planned Completion Date : April 2009
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy; REGIONS
    • 3.4 Perform ongoing monitoring of MLSI performance results against key performance indicators.
      Planned Completion Date : Ongoing
      Responsibility : CSB : Performance Measurement, Segment Leads; REGIONS
    • 3.5 Identify performance issues and put in place corrective measures to ensure continuous improvements.
      Planned Completion Date : Ongoing
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy; REGIONS

    Financial data:

    • 3.6 We will seek expert advice from CFOB on how to improve the tracking of financial data for the current pilots.
      Planned Completion Date : May 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy
    • 3.7 We will develop a financial management framework that could be applied to potential ongoing MLS services.
      Planned Completion Date : January 2009
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy, Performance Management; CFOB 
    • 3.8 MLS funding, accountabilities, and governance, will be clearly articulated in any long term policies/guidelines on the provision of services in Aboriginal and Foreign languages once a final decision is made on formalizing the MLSI pilots.
      Planned Completion Date : TBD 
      Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy
  4. Action plan required : Service Canada to provide a strong in-person tracking system that will provide timely and accurate data to inform the assessment of costs and benefits of the MLSI in a consistent manner.

    Management Response : Agree, an improved tracking and reporting system has already been identified as priority for the in-person channel.

    Action to be taken :

    • 4.1 Quality Assurance Plan - CSB is developing and implementing a Quality Assurance Plan to validate the data currently being tracked in SCCs and Outreach sites.
      Planned Completion Date : June 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : In-Person Channel; REGIONS
    • 4.2 In-person Client Reporting System (ICRS) – For scheduled outreach sites, CSB has undertaken the In-person Client Reporting System (ICRS) Enhancement project including improvements such as the:
      • 4.2.1 creation of a central database that will compile all MLS information being tracked, including tracking the Aboriginal and Foreign language in which the service was provided.
      • 4.2.2 production of automated and timely weekly reports, including MLS info.
      Planned Completion Date : September 2008
      Responsibility : CSB : In-Person Channel; IITB 
    • 4.3 Proposed upgrades to First Come, First Served (FCFS) – For SCCs, CSB will upgrade the current system used for queue management and tracking of clients. This measure will allow for the tracking of the Aboriginal and Foreign language in which the service was provided.
      Planned Completion Date : March 2009
      Responsibility : CSB : In-Person Channel; IITB 
    • 4.4 Client Management, Tracking and Reporting (CMTR) - CSB has undertaken the CMTR initiative to replace the FCFS system and will, among other elements, capture client interaction information at first point of contact in the in-person channel (e.g., language of service and client segments.) CMTR will also result in more detailed corporate reports on MLS.
      Planned Completion Date : September 2009
      Responsibility : SB : In-Person Channel; IITB 
  5. Consideration for action : To enhance multi-language services being offered at SCCs, the Initiative can adopt the concept of MLS Centres of Excellence, where regions are invited to compete for additional funds that provide language-specific training at the regional and national levels. MLS Centres of Excellence aim to generate knowledge and best practices that can be readily transferred within the MLS Network.

    Management Response : Agree, depending on future direction from Service Canada Management Board.

    The MLSI pilot experience and activities will be reviewed when these are formalized and, if expanded to other regions, the potential for creating MLS Centres of Excellence will be explored. In addition to the existing five (5) MLS approaches, other concepts for consideration could include the provision of MLS services through: videoconferencing or call centres.
    Planned Completion Date : N/A
    Responsibility : CSB : Service Policy

  6. Consideration for action : Service Canada explores the usefulness and potential for One-Stop-Shop service for MLSI to help its clients to access needed information offered by other federal departments and agencies or partnering provincial, municipal and private entities.

    Service Canada will continue to work with key partners to expand the array of ML fact sheets and publications available (e.g., the recent fact sheet on Worker's Rights in Canada was developed in partnership with HRSDC and Labour Canada.
    Planned Completion Date : N/A
    Responsibility : CSB : Emerging Segments; Service Policy

Prepared by: Policy, Planning and Communications Branch

Management Response and Action Plan Prepared by: Citizen Service Branch, Service Policy

Introduction

1. This report presents the results of the evaluation of the Multi-language Service Initiative (MLSI), conducted on behalf of Service Canada (SC). The report is divided into five (5) sections. The first section presents the initiative and evaluation context. Section 2 presents the evaluation methodology, including a discussion on limitations. Section 3 presents the evaluation findings organized by evaluation issue. Finally, key conclusions and key areas for suggested improvement are found in sections 4 and 5. Six separately bound annexes form an integral part of this report: Annexes 1 and 2 report on the document and literature review and on key informant interviews; Annexes 3 and 4 report on the client satisfaction survey and on the cost administration analysis; Annexes 5 and 6 report on monitoring and performance indicators and the client satisfaction survey questionnaire in English, as well as in the two indigenous and ten foreign languages.

1. Context

1.1 Initiative Context

2. Service Canada is the Government of Canada's one-stop service delivery network. In partnership with other departments, agencies and levels of government, it provides Canadians with easy access to a growing range of government programs and services. In 2005, the Service Canada delivery network consisted of some 320 in-person offices, a national telephone information service, on-line services, as well as some 96 mobile and outreach service sites that provided access to government services and information for Canadians living in remote, rural or northern communities.

3. Upon its inception in 2005 Service Canada stated its assumption that a low level of awareness of Government of Canada (GoC) programs and services, as well as a low take-up of benefits and entitlements existed among certain client groups because of the inability of some clients to communicate in English or French. Service Canada noted that only a few government departments in Canada and abroad provided information services in Aboriginal and foreign languages. The provision of those multi-language services varied in form and by locale.

4. To reach more Canadians in more communities, Service Canada's Multi-language Service Initiative (MLSI) was introduced in 2005. The MLSI began by encompassing the existing multi-language services being provided by a number of its service centres. The Government of Canada (GoC) government made a commitment in 2006 “to improve opportunity for all Canadians, including Aboriginal people and new immigrants”. Early in 2006, Service Canada started formally to pilot four of five (4) in-person service delivery approaches.

5. The in-person channels piloted are:

  1. Service Canada staff who speak the targeted languages are used to deliver Multi-language service to clients in selected Service Canada Centres (SCCs);
  2. Third-party telephone interpretation service is used when SCC staff does not speak the language of the client with service provided within a SCC;
  3. Service Canada Centre staff are used who speak the targeted languages to deliver Multi-language service through scheduled or mobile outreach service;
  4. Service Canada staff are accompanied by an accredited interpreter to deliver multi-language service through mobile outreach; and
  5. A contractual relationship or a collaborative arrangement with a community partner is used to deliver Multi-language service in Service Canada Community Offices.

6. Approach #4 was not implemented as of 2006-07, but was researched and assessed for future implementation.

1.2 Evaluation Context

1.2.1 Purpose of the Evaluation

7. The purpose of the evaluation is to address five major evaluation issues: relevance of the MLSI; design and delivery (including best practices); early impacts and results; cost-effectiveness; and monitoring (Performance Measurement).

1.2.2 Objectives of the Evaluation

8. The evaluation objectives are:

  1. To analyze the relevance of in-person MLS for addressing barriers to communication in an official language of Canada (Newcomers, Aboriginal People and other Canadians who may require MLS);
  2. To assess the design and implementation of the MLS pilot projects, including training and communication, in order to identify areas for improvement;
  3. To identify best practices by reviewing Canadian and international practices in MLS and by comparing them against the different approaches tested by Service Canada's Citizen Service Branch (CSB);
  4. To assess, as much as possible at this early stage of MLSI implementation, the impacts on the achievement of Service Canada's strategic objectives (citizen-centred service and collaborative and networked government);
  5. To assess, as much as possible at this early stage of MLSI implementation, the impacts on staff and clients; and
  6. To estimate the costs and benefits of MLS, as well as the cost by service delivery approach, in order to proposing the most cost-effective approach(es).

1.2.3 Evaluation Approach and Methodology

9. The overall evaluation approach is based on an Evaluation Evidence Matrix using multiple lines of evidence. Three data collection methods were used followed by a meta-analysis: a) review of national and international literature, administrative and financial files and records; b) 54 key informant interviews; and, c) a telephone survey with 210 MLSI clients. A meta-analysis of the lines of evidence was undertaken.

10. The original evaluation methodology called for focus groups and pilot site visits. Focus groups could not be organized in the circumstances surrounding the evaluation of the MLSI for two reasons: 1) unavailability of staff to participate in focus groups during normal work-hour due to the implementation of a court ordered settlement known as the Common Experience Payment; 2) reluctance from regions to have staff retributed (in overtime and/or attendance incentives) for participating in focus group outside of working hours.

11. Sites visits were cancelled due to the cancellation of focus groups. Without site visits, a number of important on-site observations could not be made, including: ease of access to SC offices; timeliness of MLS; Service Canada or third party contracted staff competence; and, clients' interaction with staff.

12. Table 1 reports the planned and completed number of interviews with SC staff and third party delivery agents by area of responsibility and client segment. Table 2 reports the actual number of clients surveyed by piloting regions. For Aboriginal clients, the sample size used is less than 1% of the total MLS client pool. For Newcomer clients, the sample size used represents about 0.5% of the total MLS client pool.

Table 1: Actual number of interviews with SC and third party staff by area of responsibility and client segment
Areas of responsibility Client segment Total Planned Total Completed
Newcomers Aboriginal
Planned Comp. Planned Comp.
Coordinators, Managers and/or Directors 16 14 19 14 35 28
Client Service Agents 26 8 17 10 43 18
Third Party Service Delivery Agents 3 2     3 2
No client segment or both client segments         13 6
Total 45 24 36 24 94 54
Table 2: Actual number of clients surveyed by pilot region
Client Group BC/YK  AB/NWT/NU/SK  ON  Total
Newcomers N = 78 N = 10 N = 34 N = 122
Aboriginal People Not applicable N = 17
(Exit interview)
N = 9 N = 26
Total N = 78 N = 27 N = 43 N = 148

13. Newcomer language groups included: Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Dari (Afghani), Arabic, and Somali. Aboriginal language groups included Inuktitut and Ojibwe.

1.2.4 Limitations

  • Focus groups and site visits, which could not be conducted, were replaced by telephone interviews for reasons listed in section 1.2.3.
  • Only limited financial data were available for the evaluation.
  • With respect to MLS approaches in delivering services, Service Canada has only one (1) community partner to provide services in foreign languages. This limitation has an impact when comparing delivery approaches.
  • The number of Aboriginal clients surveyed (26) is too small to yield statistically valid results.
  • Of the 122 Newcomer clients surveyed, 45 spoke Punjabi, 30 Cantonese and 15 Mandarin leaving only small sample of speakers of other languages.
  • The total number of clients surveyed is small (148) and considerably less than planned for due to difficulties in collecting names of MLSI clients willing to be surveyed despite having extending the on-site enrolment at sites by three weeks.
  • The data collected are largely qualitative, and often not statistically representative.
  • Responses to both the key informant interviews and the survey were voluntary and both had to be limited due to time constraints without the benefit of replacement sampling.
  • Multi-language clients may have a greater appreciation for the Initiative as services are being provided in their mother tongue.
  • Feedback to assess the usefulness and utilization of fact sheets was collected with a small number of respondents (n = 36).

2 Key Findings

14. This section presents a summary of the evidence upon which the evaluation conclusions and areas for suggested improvement are based. The section is structured by evaluation issue. Throughout this section, when possible, the information provided is attributed to one or more of the lines of evidence when the evidence was non-conflicting. The report specifies when information can only be attributed to one line of evidence of a specific interviewee group.

2.1 Relevance of the MLSI 

2.1.1 Multi-language Services at the Government of Canada Level

15. The number of people in Canada whose primary language is neither English nor French is expected to continue to rise. For example, some 30% to 40% of the Greater Toronto Area population is foreign born and up to 60% of them are not sufficiently fluent in English or French to obtain and understand information on government services. Therefore, pressures on service delivery organizations, such as Service Canada, are expected to increase for improved access to services to meet the needs of clients who are unable to communicate in English or French. Many citizens who may be eligible for Government of Canada (GoC) benefits and services may not receive them or may face service delays due to their inability to comprehend and/or communicate in either English or French.

16. The planned outcomes of the MLSI are aimed at helping Service Canada to provide better and more equitable service to clients who do not speak English or French as their first language. These outcomes are stated as: increased awareness about GoC programs and services, greater take-up of benefits and entitlements and increased client satisfaction with Government. Citizenship and Immigration Canada 's (CIC) Annual Report to Parliament in 2004 emphasized the importance of Canada continuing to be a ‘destination of choice' for immigrants. CIC also stressed removing barriers to integration to ensure that Newcomers make a successful transition into the labour market so they can enrich the country both economically and culturally. This requires Canadian service delivery and social infrastructure to respond to the needs of new immigrants. T he Multi-Language Service Initiative is aimed at responding to this challenge, at least in part, by providing basic information on programs and services to Newcomers.

17. The Service Canada baseline client satisfaction study found that clients were most likely to have contacted the organization for information or service related to Employment Insurance or a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Over half made contact regarding public pensions or income security programs (OAS, CPP Retirement, the GIS, and CPP Disability), and one in ten made contact for passports or employment programs.

18. The document and literature review, as well as the key informant interviews have confirmed that there is a need for MLSI, both among Aboriginal Canadians and among Newcomers. That need exists, above all, with the older Newcomers and is rising. Nevertheless, it should be noted that while there are, according to the 2001 Census, about 15,000 Aboriginal Canadians who speak neither English nor French, there are many others living on reserves. Aboriginal clients acknowledged that they were able to access and understand programs and services because someone was able to speak their language (n=21 of 26, or 80%). For Newcomers, 108 of 122 surveyed (96%) also recognized that MLS enabled them to access and understand programs and services.

19. English remains the preferred language to interact with the government for a majority of aboriginals. In the case of Ojibwe clients surveyed, the use of Aboriginal languages has virtually disappeared. This latter finding became evident when only one of 20 referred Ojibwe clients required an interpreter and all others spoke English well, and in some cases English was their only language.

20. The documents and literature review, as well as the key informant interviews, revealed that the MLSI rationale is reflected in the practices of other jurisdictions. At the level of the Federal Government of Canada, similar programs were noted in Environment Canada, the Department of Justice, Citizenship and Immigration, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), as well as in the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education. In the case of Environment Canada, dry cleaning regulations, a compliance guide, and a checklist for dry cleaners are available in Chinese, Korean, Punjabi and Persian. Apart from English and French, the Department of Justice publishes Abuse is Wrong in any Culture in three Inuit languages and eight foreign languages. The same department publishes in several languages Don't Become a Victim in the Illegal Trade in Persons and Stalking is a Crime Called Criminal Harassment. It also provides contracted interpreters as “court escorts” when needed. Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Application Guide advises applicants that, if needed, the visa office may provide an interpreter, and the Immigration Settlement and Adaptation Program (ISAP) funds service providers to deliver direct services to immigrants such as translation and interpretation. Many immigrant-serving associations provide interpreters to assist the CIC. The department also has documents translated into a number of foreign languages. HRSDC posts information on the internet in multi-languages (e.g., publications on the Canada Education Savings Grant). DFAIT has a multi-language document translation service, as does the CRA. CRA provides in-person interpretation for customers on an as required basis. The interpreters are staff members with the requisite language skills and knowledge of the culture. The agency maintains an inventory of staff with foreign language skills. The Canadian Foundation for Economic Education provides the Internet website Potential to Prosperity, which has been created to help Newcomers to Canada learn how to get their foreign credentials assessed and to work towards employment in their chosen profession. It should be noted that Service Canada does not provide interpretation for the 1 800 O CANADA telephone information service. It also does not post information on its website in multi languages. Its print products consist of fact sheets currently available in twelve Newcomer and nine Aboriginal languages.

2.1.2 Multi-language Services at the Provincial and Municipal Levels and in the Private Sector

21. At the Provincial, Municipal and Private levels, similar services were noted. In British Columbia these include Service BC, which offers telephone-based interpretation services. That province also has a large number of provincial publications and fact sheets available in several different languages. It also offers the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Immigrants' Services Society of British Columbia. Ontario offers the Multi-lingual Community Interpreter Services of Ontario. Comparable Municipal services were noted in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Private Immigrant Servicing Organizations exist in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.

22. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in British Columbia offers fact sheets in 15 foreign languages on subjects such as the following: About mental health; Asking for help when things are not right; Understanding Addiction; and Coping with Stress. The Immigrants Services Society of BC  (ISS) has developed a number of Occupational Fact Sheets for internationally educated professionals that are available in English, French, Hindi, Chinese, Punjabi and Russian. Service Ontario has started providing its services in multiple languages, particularly in the employment area where a hot line for Employment Ontario offers service in multi-languages. Additionally, the Government of Ontario website offers some information in multiple languages on the government services. The Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS) of Ontario, established in 1989, is funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and the Ministry of the Attorney General to provide free interpretation services to the domestic violence court and hospital and community based programs. MCIS also receives funding from the City of Toronto to provide services for clients accessing homeless shelters. MCIS' core service areas are interpretation (face-to-face and by telephone), translation, using a network of well qualified translators, language skills test administration, interpreter professional development and training, and service provider training. MCIS engages the services of over 800 interpreters, who collectively speak over 90 languages province-wide. Also in Ontario, health and education services are provided in Ojibwe, and this is done using government employees.

23. At the Municipal level, the City of Vancouver, Community Services, Social Planning, offers a Newcomer's Guide to Vancouver in Chinese, Punjabi, Vietnamese and Spanish, as well as Multi-lingual telephone services where people can record their questions or comments on an answering machine and expect a return call within two days. The City of Toronto is a leader in the provision of MLS. It has adopted a Multi-lingual services policy in accordance with which both telephone and in-person service is provided through oral interpretation in 52 languages and through written translations in 37 languages. Many municipal departments in Toronto provide their services in languages other than English and French. Examples include: Service Toronto which has a 211 service for MLS; Toronto Emergency Response System 911; and, the Toronto City Hall website provides information in a number of foreign languages. Also, the Toronto Transit Commission offers information on the internet and by telephone in 19 foreign languages. The City of Ottawa maintains a public health information line on such subjects as immunization, breastfeeding, tobacco cessation, physical activity and healthy eating, HIV/AIDS, and food safety. Under this program, a public health nurse answers the telephone, asks the client to state his or her language preference, immediately connects to an interpreter and then responds to questions.

24. In the private sector, many immigrant-serving organizations across the country provide their services in certain foreign languages, particularly in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. As well, community services in Alberta such as the Calgary Centre for Newcomers and the Community Services Centre in Calgary provide their services in a couple of foreign languages. SUCCESS, MOSAIC, ISS (Immigration Service Society), among others in BC, have dedicated people who speak other languages.

25. At the International level, multi-language services are offered in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the USA and the European Union. In Australia, translations into the Aboriginal languages are required by legislation. Their website is in 80 languages. CentreLink in Australia provides telephone interpretation services in Aboriginal languages free of charge. The Aboriginal Interpreter Service provides Aboriginal language interpreter services for criminal court proceedings. At the Royal Darwin Hospital on-site interpreter services are available during weekdays. New Zealand provides a number of public services, including court interpretation to Maori speakers. The United Kingdom maintains the UK National Register of Public Service Interpreters, to assure quality of interpretation service. The USA founded the US National Council on Interpreting in Health Care to: (1) establish a framework that promotes culturally competent health care interpreting, including standards for the provision of interpreter services in health care settings and a code of ethics for interpreters in health care; (2) develop and monitor policies, research, and model practices; (3) sponsoring a national dialogue of diverse voices and interests on related issues; (4) collecting, disseminating and acting as a clearinghouse on programs and policies to improve language access to health care for limited-English-proficient (LEP) patients. The European Union is perfecting a machine translation approach to service the administrations of member governments (see also 3.2, below).

2.1.3 Multi-Language Services and Existing Needs

26. Nineteen of 26 (or 72%) Aboriginal clients surveyed agreed, and strongly agreed, that the way information and/or service was provided to them in their own language was well suited to their needs at that time. About 110 of 122 (or 95%) of Newcomers surveyed shared the same views. Eight of 26 (or 32%) Aboriginal clients did not think that the way information and/or services provided to them in their own language fully met their expectations. Only seven out of 122 (or 7%) of Newcomers indicated that their expectations were not fully met. These findings are similar to those found in the SC client satisfaction survey conducted in 2006.

27. Two out of three managers, directors and client service agents of MLS sites noted that regional offices' overall capacity to serve Canadians effectively improved since MLS was implemented. There is an ongoing need to provide MLS to Aboriginal clients based on 2001 Census data. For Nunavut, about 13% of Canadians do not speak English or French, and MLS were provided to 9.3% of in-person visits with assistance at Nunavut SC centres. For British Columbia and Yukon regions, 2.6% of the Canadian population do not speak English or French, and MLS were provided to 1.6% of in-person visits with assistance. In Ontario, only a small fraction (0.2%) of MLS was available to 2% of Canadians who do not speak either official language. As for Newcomer clients, the top language needs are determined on the basis of Immigration data, which are provided by CIC officials. Census data are used by regions to validate Newcomer needs within a given locality.

28. Key informant interviews with MLSI staff confirmed that MLSI improves their clients' awareness, access to services and satisfaction with services provided to them.

The document and literature review indicated that the right groups are being targeted, since 73% of Newcomers settle in large cities in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, and since 94% settle in Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA). Service requests predominate in piloting provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and are picking up in Quebec. Several informants expressed the need to expand the number of pilots to serve clients who live far from pilot sites. There is also a need to expand the capacity of existing pilots. About half of the interviewees said that demand for MLS continually outstrips their ability to supply the services. Key informants also believe that Service Canada needs to embrace activities and information from other federal departments. The MLSI is intended to support one-stop shop service concept. However, the MLSI currently deals only with HRSDC-managed programs and services and not all GoC programs and services. MLSI does not help clients to make connections and get information about other departments such as information on taxation and health services.

29. Languages targeted in the pilot projects were representative of the target population. Nevertheless, the incidence of English speakers who were referred to the Evaluators as potential survey interviewees, suggests, that the provision of MLS service should be tightened and limited to those who are unable to speak effectively in either English or French, and that the extent of such service should be tracked statistically to provide firm take-up data.

2.2 Effectiveness of MLSI Design and Delivery

2.2.1 Implementation Process

30. The steps in the design and implementation of the MLSI as a pilot study follow. Starting in November 2005, Service Canada identified the various approaches to in-person multi-language services that might be used, and subsequently identified the number, types and potential locations for pilots to test each approach. At the request of the Citizen and Community Services Transformation Committee (CCSTC) in September 2006, Service Canada sought the approval of the Deputy Head and Minister before moving forward with pilots for 1 800 O-Canada, Internet and national call centres. In 2006, Service Canada consulted with central agencies and other government departments on the policy issues associated with providing MLS in all channels. In August 2007 Service Canada contracted a Consultant to conduct an evaluation of the MLSI as a pilot program. A business case for in-person MLS will be drafted, based on the early results of the evaluation as well as on broad consultations. If policy consultations lead to agreement to expand services via telephone and Internet, Service Canada would conduct pilots in FY 2007-08 and present a business case for the longer-term use of these channels. By early 2008, Service Canada aims to have associated MLS Aboriginal and Newcomer Policies developed on multi-language services that would ensure the implementation of a consistent service across all regions.

2.2.2 MLSI Implementation Process Outputs

31. At the time of the evaluation, the outputs expected from the MLSI pilots are: MLS In-Person Business Case is to be presented to the Service Canada Management Board (SCMB) which was originally planned for the fall of 2007. The evaluation of MLSI is required to inform the next steps with respect to the business case and ensuing policies. The Service Canada Policy Division of the Citizen Service Branch aims to complete the MLSI business and ensuing policy proposals for approval by SCMB. The case is to include recommendations for long-term delivery of in-person services effective April 2008. A Business Case for other channels is to be presented 12 months after the start of potential pilots using other channels. A Service Canada Policy on MLS Aboriginal and Newcomer services will mark the transition from “initiative” to “ongoing business process”.

2.2.3 Importance of a Multi-Language Policy Framework

MLS Policy in the Government of Canada

32. To date, a comprehensive policy has not been published on the use of languages other than English and French in the delivery of federal government services to the public. A number of federal departments have been providing print and Internet materials in certain foreign languages to meet immediate client needs (see Section 2.1.1). Examples of the use of interpretation services by one or two federal departments for foreign languages were also given in Section 2.1.1. However, no federal department has enunciated a policy on the use of foreign languages in the delivery of services. Departmental policies on the use of Aboriginal languages in service delivery are found in Canadian Heritage (PCH).

33. Service Canada has recognized the critical importance of having a comprehensive policy on the use of foreign and Aboriginal languages for service provision. The production of such a policy is needed immediately to guide Service Canada's further investments in the development of multi-language service approaches that will best meet client needs, to avoid overlap and duplication of language services development both within Service Canada and among federal departments that serve the same clientele, and to ensure a consistent and fair application of multi-language services.

34. At the minimum, the Service Canada Service Policy for Multi-Language Services should state Service Canada's commitment to MLS, specify the target client segments, the languages in which services are to be offered, the level of services and level of information to be provided, the governance framework, cost administration, clear performance measurements and service standards for delivering MLS services. More importantly, MLS policy must fit with the overall GoC policy direction.

MLS Policy in Other Countries: The Case of the Multi-Lingual Information Society Programme (MLIS) of the European Union.

35. Multilingualism in the European Union (EU) has been widely perceived as a barrier to economic integration. Consequently, the EU has commissioned a variety of projects aimed at finding ways to address this issue. As a follow up to previous multi-lingual studies and experiments, all of which largely focused on the use of technologies to facilitate language translation, the Multi-Lingual Information Society Programme (MLIS) was undertaken in 1995. An evaluation of the initiative was completed in 2000. The Programme was highly focused on finding appropriate technologies for language translation, and on methods to promote multi-lingual use in the private sector. However, one important conclusion of the MLIS evaluation was that “further interventions in the field of the multilingual information society…would be enhanced if there was a comprehensive EU language policy that could provide a framework for all relevant interventions. Otherwise, given the large number of relevant programmes there is a danger of confusion and a dilution of effort”. Having noted the importance of a having comprehensive language policy, the evaluation went on to say that the policy should not be too constraining in its definition of language interventions given the very rapid change in language translation and interpretation technologies.

2.2.4 Best Practices in MLS Delivery

36. Several good practices have been identified. In each case, there are trade-offs, ranging from completeness of service provided in aboriginal and foreign languages, and a high degree of confidentiality, to less costly options of facilitating access to written information and relying on some transitional in-person support from family members, friends and affinity groups.

37. Delivering MLS with Service Canada staff who speak the targeted languages with clients in selected Service Canada Centres (SCCs) and delivering through scheduled or mobile outreach service improves the take-up rate of federal programs and services as both approaches allow for full service (complete transactions, from explaining programs and services to assisting clients with filling out appropriate forms). On many occasions, SC staff also referred clients to community partners, for language training or other services. In fact, 3-in-4 Aboriginal and 4-in-5 Newcomer clients visited SCCs or community partner office.

38. Delivering MLS through third-party telephone interpretation using a contractual relationship or a collaborative arrangement with a community partner in Service Canada Community Offices improves the awareness of federal programs and services. Both approaches are limited to providing basic services (general information, referrals).

39. The document review indicated that fundamental to best practice is the development of an MLS policy. Best practices that have been identified include:

  • For basic information giving, the use of on-line publications, multi-language fact sheets and information booklets, machine translation for multi-language on-line access and telephone interpreter service;
  • For in-depth service, particularly if privacy and confidentiality issues prevail, in-person service, to the extent possible by staff having the required language capacity, and if that is lacking, service provision with the support of interpreters;
  • For in-depth service provision involving Indian and Méti staff, the provision of professional development programs, such as cultural understanding and sensitivity;
  • The involvement of the community, since many clients show greater trust in community support than in government;
  • With a view to long-term multi-language service, the use of language policy or language legislation, as in the case of the Northwest Territories, which recognizes eleven languages.

40. The key informants identified four main steps: identification of target languages for MLS; building on the language skill and affinities of staff; involving the community in outreach delivery; and, using centralized and certified interpretation services.

2.2.5 Client Satisfaction

41. The client survey revealed that 20 of 26 Aboriginal clients (or 76%) were satisfied with the overall MLS service. Aboriginal clients appreciated SC staff courtesy, fair services and the time it took to get the service. A higher proportion of Newcomer clients (94%, or 104 of 111) surveyed were satisfied with the overall service provided. Newcomers' level of satisfaction was associated with SC staff sensitivity and courtesy as well as their knowledge of programs and services. The survey also indicated a perception of moderate effectiveness of the promotion of services among Aboriginals and high effectiveness among Newcomers. Only half of all clients knew that service might be offered in other languages than English or French.

42. From SC employees' perspective, 22 of 35 interviewed (or 63%) believe that providing MLS increased their sensitivity to client needs and fairness of services and that MLS improved the overall satisfaction with GoC. Remaining SC staff (or 37%) saw some or no improvement in the overall satisfaction with GoC with MLS. A number of SC staff recognized that access to multi-language services needs some improvement. Only half of SC staff (16 of 35, or 46%) shared the opinions that MLS improved client awareness of GoC programs and services and the take-up rate of GoC benefits.

Remarks from Aboriginal Clients  

43. About Fact Sheets. A significant percentage of the Aboriginal as well as the Newcomer clients said they had not received, or made use of, the Service Canada fact sheets that are published in a number of Aboriginal and foreign languages. Nonetheless, 12 of 26 Aboriginal respondents (46%) suggested that more documentation (fact sheets) in Inuktitut would be a good thing. They indicated that many Aboriginal people in the North are not aware of the services provided in Inuktitut, and that it would be important to invest more to make this service visible.

44. About In-person Services. Six of 26 Aboriginal respondents (23%) said that Service Canada should increase the number of Aboriginal language speakers on staff that serve the public and that more offices with staff able to speak Aboriginal languages are required.

45. About MLSI Promotion. Four of 26 Aboriginal respondents (15%) said that not enough is being done to promote the MLSI. One respondent suggested: Promote it (MLSI) in person or at the community band council meetings and with door-to-door flyers. Do it in conjunction with the schools or other organizations. The promotion activities should be piggy-backed with community functions. Service Canada could even go house to house. One respondent suggested that open door days should be organized from time to time to improve Service Canada visibility among he Inuit people and to tell them about the kind of services that are provided.

Remarks from Newcomer Clients  

46. About In-person Services. A total of 38 of 122 Newcomer survey respondents (31%) suggested in one way or another that the in-person services should be expanded to reach more Newcomers and in more locations. It was further urged that the service be expanded to include more language groups. The shortage of foreign language speaking staff leads to long wait times, according to eight respondents (7%).

47. About Fact Sheets. The need for more fact sheets in various languages was suggested by just four respondents. The low level of response may be attributable, in part, to the fact that the question about the fact sheets had been added after the survey had started.

48. About MLSI Promotion. A total of 21 of 122 respondents (17%) commented that the MLSI is not promoted very well. They suggested that MLSI be advertised widely on multicultural T.V. channels, in community newspapers, or by fliers sent to homes because many people do not have the time to go to Service Canada Centres or the Library to get this information.

2.2.6 MLSI Management Support

49. The document review indicated that the governance of MLSI involves all Service Canada levels, and that high quality staff enhances satisfaction with the service. Nevertheless, the key informants noted that since the MLSI is still in a pilot mode, its organizational structure is ad hoc. At all levels, job descriptions are lacking and services to Aboriginals and Newcomers should not be grouped since their needs are different. Consistent staff training is not yet available. It was noted that the Regions offered some training in the beginning for new hires, but in general such training is limited to some conference calls, meetings and demonstrations, but the usefulness of these approaches is limited due to changing circumstances. In terms of communication, a full communication strategy is required. The 1-800-O-Canada number should be included in its MLS strategy. No full-fledged promotional strategy exists. Nevertheless, some offices display posters while others publish advertisements in the ethnic press. Officials at SC Headquarters reported that MLSI cannot be adequately resourced from within the current SC resource base. Regional officials concurred.

2.2.7 Staff Work Load

50. The key informants indicated that there is no consistent pattern across the MLSI delivery system. In fact variations in demand have varied from 1 to 500 clients per week, depending on which delivery approach is used and where Outreach activity is high. Half of the client service agents perceive no extra burden (9 of 18). Some regions have hired new MLS agents, while others piggy-back MLS on to other services. It was noted that improved training should help to ease work load. No impact was observed where telephone interpretation was used. No focus groups were held preventing opportunities for site visits (see Section 1.2.3).

2.2.8 Allocation of Staff and Financial Resources

51.Service Canada key informants pointed out that since MLSI is a pilot, only short-term MLSI resources are available, and even these are taken from the general budget, since no new funding for the pilots had been approved. Respondents from headquarters pointed out that MLSI cannot be adequately resourced from within the current SC resource base, and only two out of 42 regional respondents (5%) indicated that the current funding was adequate for in-office and Outreach services. Staff members are predominantly concentrated at the PM-1 level. Community partner views vary from adequate to not adequate. Third party telephone, the perceived more efficient option, had its resources reduced when take-up was low and these are now considered to be inadequate. Cantalk does not appear in the budget, since it is paid centrally. The need for a resource determination and allocation model was pointed out, and it was noted that under-funding limits access to good interpreters.

3. Early Results or Success

52. Key informants expressed the opinion that each approach has its own unique strengths and weaknesses: Outreach allows Service Canada managers to tailor services to client needs, while retaining some control; In-person approach has the best chance for providing service and follow through, while maintaining privacy; Community Partners Delivery reaches clients in locations where they are comfortable and surroundings are familiar but service is limited to the basic level; and Third Party Telephone Interpretation is capable of reaching the largest number of clients, approximately in 150 languages, but also is limited to the provision of basic level services.

53. Without differentiating between delivery approaches, the perception among the combined survey clientele was very high that MLSI is effective in improving their access to services of the Government of Canada. In particular, 14 of 15 (or 93%) of managers of MLS sites believed that client awareness of GoC programs and services has improved much or somewhat as a result of MLSI. Sixteen of 18 (or 89%) of managers of MLS sites and non- MLS sites believe that client uptake of GoC programs has improved much or somewhat as a result of MLSI. Similarly high ratings were reported regarding overall client satisfaction with GoC services.

3.1 Success Factors and Obstacles

54. In terms of success factors, the key informants observed that Outreach enjoys greater client trust while having a lesser impact on In-Office workload. On the other hand, In-person services at SCC  success is dependent on dedicated staff and the quality of their training. Approaches drawing on Community partners (only one partner was available to participate to the evaluation) tend to target the right language and location for service. Community partner staff is known for providing services beyond contract requirements, which leads to high client satisfaction and word-of-mouth promotion. The community partners have sufficient staff who speak the required language and understand their clients' culture. Section 3.1.2.1 summarizes major success factors by delivery approach and reports some obstacles. More importantly, some unexpected positive effects were found with few unexpected effects.

3.1.1 Unexpected Positive Effects

55. Many unexpected positive effects of the MLSI were noted. T he co-location of the outreach service in Community Partner offices has increased the comfort level of clients who are not normally comfortable in government offices, and it has enabled a more complete service for clients because it complements what the community partner employees were able to provide. Consultation with the province and municipalities has had a positive effect, at least in one case, of bringing over 20 ministries to the table to discuss and resolve MLS issues. One consultation result is the collaborative development of a multi-language tool kit and policy statement for British Columbia. Another result has been the drafting of best practices in MLS.

56. Collaboration with other federal government departments in the establishment of the Service Canada MLSI pilots has led to more interaction and information exchange between Service Canada and CRA than previously existed. The MLSI seems to be helping to improve the image of the Government of Canada in terms of being citizen-focused. MLSI clients are surprised to find out that they can be served in their own language. They are informed of the procedures, processes and reasons for the decisions regarding their claims in their own language. They do not always get the answer they were hoping for but now they understand why the answer is what it is. MLSI seems to be reducing client shyness and fear of government. Also, MLSI has improved communication with Aboriginal people.

3.1.2 Unexpected Negative Effects of the MLSI 

57. Few respondents reported that their clients are becoming too dependent on being served in their own language through Outreach and thus are avoiding going to the SCC for regular services. Clients are also not using the internet sufficiently to obtain information. Several respondents expressed concern about the appearance of favouritism for some language groups which the MLSI seems to foster.

3.1.2.1 Major success factors and obstacles by delivery approach  
APPROACH: Service Canada Centre staff are used who speak the targeted languages to deliver Multi-language service through scheduled or mobile outreach service  

Major success factors

Subject to technological and practical limitations, MLS Outreach services are successful for several reasons. They are most often provided by SCC staff at a community site, having less impact on the in-office availability of staff to serve English or French speaking clients. Outreach co-locating with a community office builds trust with immigrant communities because clients are most often served in their communities and do not have to go to a government office.

Obstacles

  • Ability to conduct transactions is only possible where high speed internet service is available. Necessary technological support for Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and other technologies is not always available to the Outreach team when they need it.
  • It is may be costly and time-consuming to rent space once a week, travel, set-up and take down equipment.
  • This mode of service is also faced with a shortage of targeted language speakers, a problem that is complicated by hiring rules of the Public Service Commission.
  • Being able to hire sufficient staff that speak the targeted languages for Outreach services is an ongoing problem. Human Resource rules of the Public Service for hiring staff make it difficult to use knowledge of languages other than English or French as merit criteria in hiring. Often, the SCCs have found that they have to rely on the voluntary effort of SCC staff, and very often these persons move on, as a result of which the SCC has to hire new staff continually.
APPROACH: Service Canada staff who speak the targeted languages are used to deliver Multi-language service to clients in selected Service Canada Centers (SCCs);  

Major success factors

This approach is considered to be successful when staff dedicated to the MLSI are as well trained as any other SCC delivery agent. Staff do not feel that by delivering high quality services in MLS that the service provided in English or French has to be compromised. Dedicated MLSI staff have a passion for providing the service. In-office delivery is equipped with good technology and system support as well as solid support from the management team. As well, dedicated MLSI staff are given the time to provide full service to their clients, including the completion of transactions such as EI application.

Obstacles

  • In-person services at SCC approach is limited by problems relating to recruitment, training and staff turn-over.
APPROACH: Third-party telephone interpretation service is used when SCC staff does not speak the language of the client with service provided within an SCC   

Major success factors

This approach is considered to be successful when all staff in the office have been provided with cultural sensitivity training. The service is available in all large urban areas with significant Newcomer populations and there is immediate accessibility to the service in the targeted language. It is recognized that the service can only support provision of “basic” or “first level of service” (due to client confidentiality requirements in Service Canada). Sufficient staffs are made available to support the service.

Obstacles

  • Third party telephone interpretation is limited to the basic level of service due to confidentiality rules and due to the fact that interpreters are often unfamiliar with the context of the services, and in some cases, interpreters may not speak French when the office environment requires this. This type of service is also affected, if there are power outages.
APPROACH: A contractual relationship or a collaborative arrangement with a community partner is used to deliver Multi-language service in Service Canada Community Offices  

Major success factors

This approach is considered to be successful because extensive consultations with the community partners are undertaken to ensure that the right language for service and the right locations are targeted. Community partner staff are made familiar with the Service Canada website. The partner is willing to spend more time providing the MLS than indicated in the contractual agreements. Word of mouth advertising resulting from high levels of client satisfaction contributes to increases in the number of clients. The Community Partner is able to provide sufficient staff that speaks the targeted languages to meet client needs for service. Partner staff often belong to the targeted groups (for example Aboriginal people who speak Ojibwe) and are familiar with the culture as well as the language; and, the partner is able to get help from local Aboriginal people, for example certain elders who assist the staff either in person or by telephone.

Obstacles

  • Community partnership is limited to the basic level of service due to confidentiality rules and access to SC systems to process full transactions.
  • Community Partners are not always immediately informed by Service Canada of changes to policies and programs.
  • Although a Community Partner may be contracted by the SCC to provide MLS on its behalf, partner staff sometimes find that they are given the same priority and amount of assistance in resolving client issues as the general public.
  • Government programs and services are complex, and partner staff find they require more help from the SCC in understanding the programs than originally envisaged in the service delivery contract.
  • Confidentiality requirements of Service Canada mean that the client must fill out documents and submit them to the SCC, which sometimes takes a long time.

58. General Challenges. All respondents noted that a current obstacle to better implementation of the MLSI is getting the word out, telling clients that MLS in their language is offered. There has been too little promotion of the Initiative because of concern over raising expectations that cannot be met. Service Canada face a situation similar to other federal department providing MLS where they must limit themselves to a number of foreign languages because of limited funding.

3.2 Deficiencies with the MLSI 

59. The MLSI is a pilot initiative. One purpose in piloting an initiative prior to deciding to expand from the current in-person channel to other service channels such as Internet or by telephone is that the pilot process should expose deficiencies that either can or cannot be corrected before full implementation. It is important that deficiencies in the MLSI design, delivery approaches, costing, and implementation strategy be outlined not only as a part of this evaluation, but also on an ongoing basis up to the point of full implementation. Listing and correcting deficiencies is an iterative process that perhaps should not even end at the point of full implementation.

60. The following perceived deficiencies were noted. Aboriginal and Newcomer client segments are gathered together in one initiative even though the client segments are vastly different. The focus of the pilots is on in-person MLS. However, in-person services have less chance of achieving their aims in the absence of good supporting materials and tools. At the time of the evaluation, the MLS website content is not complete. Furthermore, there are a limited number of fact sheets. Printed materials are not available in all relevant subjects and important language groups. Even though the MLSI is still a pilot initiative, complete job descriptions for the staff positions that provide MLS in the regional offices and SCCs are required. Issues have yet to be resolved around the inclusion, as a selection factor in hiring, of competency in a language other than English or French. Training that incorporates the delivery of MLS with the acquisition of the general knowledge and skill needed by all SCC staff has yet to be developed and deployed. Approaches to making the transition from pilot initiative to a full blown Service Canada program have not yet been decided upon. The MLSI has not been promoted to any great extent. A full communication strategy is required. SCC staff and clients use the 1-800-O-Canada number quite routinely to obtain Service Canada information. Privacy and confidentiality of client information has to be protected. At the same time, better use could be made of the third party telephone interpretation approach to MLS if the confidentiality and privacy issues could be resolved in some way (e.g. having interpreters sign confidentiality agreements; using only certified interpreters who have security clearances and have signed confidentiality agreements). The MLSI is intended to support the One Stop Shop service concept. However, the MLSI currently deals with mostly HRSDC -managed programs and services and not all GoC programs and services. For instance, MLSI does not help the client make connections and get information about other departments (e.g. health issues).

3.3 MLSI's Role in Fostering Community Partnerships

61. One of many unintended positive effect includes t he co-location of the outreach service in Community Partner offices which increased the comfort level of clients who are not normally comfortable in government offices. This practice enabled for more complete services for clients because it complements what the community partner employees were able to provide. Key informants viewed good communication as the primary requirement for the formation and maintenance of effective partnerships with community organizations, and that applied in particular to the introduction of the MLSI and the delivery of its services. At the same time, key informants noted that Service Canada must have a good exit strategy, if it should be required.

3.4 MLSI Promotion

62. The need for effective external communication was recognized in all three lines of evidence. The awareness of Service Canada among Aboriginals and Newcomers was relatively low, particularly so among senior clients. Key informants indicated that existing communication methods included posters in Service Canada offices, advertising in the ethnic press, as well as the web site and more importantly through word-of-mouth. Two-in-three Aboriginal clients learnt about SC offering services in multi-languages from family members, friends or at work (11of 26 or 65%). Close to three-in-four Newcomer clients (72 of 88 or 71%) learnt about SC MLS through the same means of communication. Only half of all clients knew that service might be offered in other languages than English or French.

63. The survey results indicated a perception of moderate effectiveness of the promotion of services among Aboriginals and high effectiveness among Newcomers. The perception of usefulness of the fact sheets was low among Aboriginals and moderate among Newcomers (only 36 clients or 24% provided feedback on fact sheets). Nevertheless, Inuktitut speakers indicated that fact sheets in Inuktitut would be helpful, if properly promoted.

3.5 Satisfaction with MLSI Quality of Service

64. Key informants indicated general satisfaction with the services they provided, pointing out that Outreach allows SC managers to tailor services to their client needs, while retaining some control. In-person at SCC  approach was perceived to offer the best chance for providing service and follow through, while maintaining privacy.

65. The perception of the quality of MLSI services was generally high among 26 Aboriginal clients interviewed and very high among 122 Newcomer clients. Quality measures include level of satisfaction with respect to communication, staff courtesy, knowledge, sensitivity to client needs, fairness of service, access to service in language of choice/need, as well as accuracy, clarity, completeness, relevance of information provided and the timeliness of services.

4. Cost Effectiveness

4.1 The MLSI Business Case

66. One purpose of the MLSI is to develop a business case for the implementation of long-term multi-language services. Pilot experiences are expected to provide the information needed to develop a business case with a complete cost administration analysis. A business case is being drafted at headquarters to support the development of Service Canada Service Policy for Multi-Language Services as well as to seek further funding. Each region previously developed its own business case and approach for the pilots.

4.2 MLSI Costs

67. Sources of cost data were the Service Canada Inventory of MLSI Pilots for Aboriginal and Foreign languages, the MLSI Identification of Costs 2007-08 to 2009-10 for ERC dated June 12, 2007, monthly report on client volumes by pilot regions and responses to specific questions from key informants. Using these sources, unit (per client) costs for each of the four MLSI delivery approaches in the pilot sites were developed.

68. Costs are estimated separately for the provision of MLS to Newcomer and Aboriginal clients and are given in Table 3. The costs for Newcomers MLS are given in table 4, while the Aboriginal client costs are provided in table 5 (see Appendix E). The sources of particular data, methods for calculation, and necessary assumptions made are given in a series of notes to these tables (see Appendix E). Newcomer and Aboriginal MLS Client Volumes and Per Client Costs are given in Tables 6 and 7 of Appendix E.

69. The cost data for third-party telephone interpretation covers the period of January 2007 to August 2007. However, much of the client volume data run from October 2006 to September 2007. Financial data for SCCs and scheduled outreach sites equipped with third-party telephone interpretation were not available for all sites.

Table 3: Comparison of Per Client Costs by MLS Delivery Approach Broken Out by Client Segment, Fiscal Year 2006-07
MLS Delivery Approaches Client Group
Newcomers
Cost per Client
Aboriginal People
Cost per Client
In-person in SCCs $10.10
(full services)
$10.04
(full services)
Scheduled and/or mobile outreach $36.31
(full services)
$70.22
(full services)
Third-party telephone interpretation (FY2006-07, 2008-09) $35.02
(basic services)
N/A
Community partnership (one partnering contract) $33.14
(basic services)
N/A

70. The perceptions of MLSI staff (management and Client Service Agents) about the relative costs of three approaches (in-person and in SCC; scheduled and/or mobile outreach; and third-party telephone interpretation) can be summarized as follows.

The total and per client costs will differ depending on the level of service provided through the different approaches. For Outreach, operations and maintenance (O&M) costs including travel costs. Third party telephone interpretation costs are considered to be the least expensive, and up to the time of the evaluation, grossly underused.

71. According to Table 3, it is estimated that in-person delivery is the least expensive approach for both Newcomer and Aboriginal clients for full-services but reached a significant lower number of clients (4,000 for both segments). It is about one-third the cost of third party telephone interpretation or community partner delivery for Newcomer clientele. There is relatively little difference in cost when delivering basic services to Newcomers using the latter delivery approaches.

4.3 MLSI Effectiveness and Benefits

72. The key informant interviews identified the following key benefits that are also consistent with those implied in the Draft MLSI Logic Model:

  • Increase in take-up of Government of Canada programs and services;
  • Improved image among targeted clientele of the Government of Canada (GoC);
  • Possible increase in efficiency of the SCCs because the staff are not slowed down by clients' language needs;
  • Improved referral of targeted clientele to GoC programs and services with the consequence of reducing waste in program usage; and,
  • Making one stop service and citizen-centred service a reality for targeted clientele.

73. The MLSI is not at the stage of implementation where direct measures of the desired impact and of the accrual of benefits such as those just listed can be made. Thus, it is necessary to use a proxy. One proxy for measuring the effectiveness of the MLSI for each delivery approach could include all of the following (these are taken from the MLSI Logic Model – immediate outcomes):

  • Number of clients served by delivery approach regardless of the extent or complexity of the service given;
  • Client perception of the extent to which a barrier to service was removed by receiving initial service in their own language; and,
  • Client perception of any increase in awareness of Service Canada programs and services that resulted from the provision of information/service in their own language.

4.4 Effectiveness Based on Client Volumes

4.4.1 In-person MLS 

74. The key informants expressed the view that in person approaches offer the best chance of really helping Newcomer and Aboriginal clients that require help in their own language to get the information they need and to follow through with the information to take up program/service activities or benefits. In the case of both in-person MLS at SCC and Outreach MLS, SC employees are working face-to-face with the client. Because the client meets with a Service Canada agent the client's privacy is maintained. The greatest difference between MLS delivered in-person and by Outreach is the capability of the CSA to follow through with the client after the provision of information (basic service). Not all Outreach sites support the provision of full services such in the case of Northern regions.

75. Constraints of the in-person delivery approach are that of client reluctance to go to a government office, and the accessibility of the office location to the client. These factors seem to have constrained, according to the client volume data for 2006-07, the Newcomer client usage of the in-person approach but not the Aboriginal client usage of in- SCC service (see Tables 7 and 8 of Appendix E). Few CSAs expressed the view that the main reason for a lower client usage of in-person MLS than for the usage of Outreach was the availability of in-person delivery staff.

4.4.2 Scheduled or Mobile Outreach and In-office Service

76. The Newcomer client volumes by MLS delivery approach for 2006-07 presented earlier in table 6 of Appendix E indicate that more clients were reached through Outreach than through the provision of much the same service in the SCC (at a ratio of 10 to 1). Client Service Agents interviewed were almost unanimous agreed that in their views, the Outreach approach has the most potential for providing the targeted clients (both Newcomers and Aboriginal people) with the level of service they need at a location that is accessible and comfortable for them. The pilot experiences of 2006-07 suggest that more Newcomer clients are likely to seek and accept MLS provided through Outreach than by going to an SCC in BC regions. For Ontario regions, more Newcomer clients are likely to seek and accept MLS provided by going to an SCC. In-person services at SCC or scheduled and/or mobile outreach delivery are equally accessible for Aboriginal clients. When the Outreach teams for Aboriginal clients in northern regions find suitable facilities and are supported by the necessary technologies (e.g. high speed internet connections at the Outreach location), they are able to provide almost the same level of service as is available in the SCC.

4.4.3 Community Partner Delivery

77. The client volumes in 2006-07 for this delivery approach are only given for one community partner. At the time of the evaluation, community partnership was limited to providing basic information, that is, general information about the GoC programs and services. Key informants noted that Community Partner delivery provides in-person service and maintains a close connection with the community. Little client reluctance to access services through this approach is expected. The quality of service was said to be acceptable, while serious constraints in full service delivery were noted. Specifically, the number of clients at the present time whose service needs can be fully met by a Community Partner are limited because of limited knowledge of GoC programs and services of the Community Partner delivery agents; and client privacy and confidentiality concerns related to full service provision by a third party.

4.4.4 Third Party Telephone Interpretation

78. Third party telephone interpretation service has the potential to reach the largest number of targeted clientele (up to 150 different language groups). Access to this service could be made from any SCC or Community Partner office once contractual arrangements with a service provider are put in place. And at an estimated $35 per client (for an average 10 minute call) it is affordable.

79. Even though third party telephone interpretation has a potential to reach a large number of clients from a large number of locations, the 2006-07 experience indicates that client usage might generally fall below expectations. This may mean that clients are aware of the availability of service and/or that the service is not capable of meeting the full client requirements for information and administrative action (e.g. filing an EI claim). This delivery approach is indeed limited at the present time in its application because of privacy and confidentiality issues.

4.5 Effectiveness Based on Staff (Key Informant) Interview Findings

80. The MLSI staff views about the comparative effectiveness of the four delivery approaches, which are included in the pilot, follow.

  • Scheduled/Mobile Outreach is considered to be successful in terms of client volume and quality of service given based on the 2006-07 and early 2007-08 results. It provides SC managers the opportunity to tailor the service to client needs and gives the managers some measure of control. They can equip the MLSI teams with the appropriate technology to provide full service in many cases. The capability to provide full service is constrained in some locations at this time by accessibility to high speed internet connections. All of the issues surrounding the delivery of MLS by SC staff are the same for Outreach delivery as for in-office delivery (e.g. capability of hiring the number of staff required with the right language skills).
  • The in-person services at SCCs approach in regions is seen to be effective in terms of the scope and quality of service given. Dedicated staff are made available to serve clients in targeted language groups and are able to provide full service, including the follow through needed to help clients complete forms, etc. For Ontario regions where MLS are being piloted, about 140 Newcomer clients visited SCC per month compared to about 340 Newcomer clients serviced by Outreach. In Northern regions, about 204 Aboriginal clients visited three SCCs per month compared to 62 clients serviced by Outreach at 14 locations. For BC region, only Outreach approach was available.
    • When comparing in-person services between Kenora SCC with MLS to Timmins SCC without MLS, cost per client does not differ significantly. For Kenora with MLS, it cost $110 per client compared to $119 per client at Timmins SCC without MLS. Kenora sees 15,119 clients who needed assistance over fiscal year 2006-07 compared to a higher number of 19,009 clients in Timmins.1
  • Third party telephone interpretation was considered by almost all key informants to have the potential of reaching the largest number of clients for the provision of information only. At the present time, the scope of service is limited to the “basic” level because follow through with clients is constrained by privacy and confidentiality issues, as they are for Community Partner delivery. This service is seen as being the most flexible for delivery of services to Newcomers in that it can serve up to 150 different language groups. Staff also indicated that clients are not all that receptive to getting service using a telephone conference call.
    • In comparison with telephone services in English or French, it cost $6.10 per call to address enquiries related to the Employment Insurance program in fiscal year 2006-07. For Canadian Pension Plan /Old Age Services programs, telephone services in official languages cost $6.32 per call for the same period. More complex telephone enquiries related to the Canada Student Loan Program cost $23.20 per call. The latter type of enquiries can be used to compare MLS costs to non- MLS costs, provided that MLS telephone service leads to complete transactions.2
  • Community Partner delivery provides in person service in an environment that is familiar and acceptable to clients. It achieves everything that SCC in-office and Outreach can except that the level of service remains basic (i.e. usually transactions are not completed). Moreover, concern was expressed about the capability of Community Partner staff to get and maintain an adequate knowledge of GoC programs and services to equip them to give full service, even if the privacy and confidentiality issues are resolved. This approach has the potential to expand the reach of Service Canada to targeted language group clientele to much the same level as Outreach would.

  1. Unpublished data. Service Canada fiscal year 2006-07 salaries, wages and operational costs for Kenora responsible centre 3514 and Timmins Kenora responsible centre 3548. Number of personally assisted clients derived from First Come, First Serve.
  2. Unpublished data. Service Canada operational costs related to telephone services.

4.6 Effectiveness Based on Client Survey Findings

81. In terms of the clients' perceptions of MLSI effectiveness in helping them meet their needs, Newcomer clients were slightly more positive than Aboriginal clients. The client survey revealed that: satisfaction with the time it took to receive, staff knowledge, staff sensitivity, staff fairness, consistency of advice, level of guidance received, clarity of advice, and staff helpfulness is high among Aboriginals and very high among Newcomers. Satisfaction with staff courtesy is very high among the combined clientele of Aboriginals and Newcomers.

4.7 Alternative Approaches to the Pilot Approaches

82. The document and literature highlighted a notion that contracting out of MLS is likely less costly to Service Canada than employing its own staff. This approach is similar to pilot service option #5. The following examples were found in the document/literature review:

  • Example 1: Language interpreter services for victims of domestic violence;
  • Example 2: Aboriginal Interpreter service of Northern Australia;
  • Example 3: Centrelink in Australia provides access to Aboriginal language service;
  • Example 4: The European Union is perfecting the use of machine translation in the provision of multi-language services to public administrators across its member states.

83. While the key informants found it difficult to discuss alternatives to their known approaches, several alternatives were cited:

  • Staff language database (CRA): Advantage : Language service providers are subject experts. Disadvantage : Difficult to use in high volume environment such as SCCs.
  • In-person MLS through Outreach, using staff or contracted interpreters (CIC). Advantages. As in the case of SC Outreach, this approach provides services at a client's location and draws on community resources. Disadvantages. Interpreters not subject experts.
  • Telephone interpretation (Toronto, Service BC, Service Ontario). Advantages. Low cost for large variety of languages). Disadvantages. Interpreters often lack subject knowledge.
  • Community Partners (CIC). Immigrant servicing is contracted, including language service, while Service Canada pays separately for language service. Service Canada faces confidentiality and privacy concerns.
  • Internet-based MLS. Service Canada could make better use of the Internet. Secure transactions are possible, which are used by banks and for the administration of the Canada Pension Plan. Centrelink, in Australia, uses this approach to book interpretation services.

5 Monitoring and Performance Indicators

5.1 Existing Performance Criteria and Standards

84. The document review identified the existence of a Draft Logic Model. However, the key informants generally expressed the view that the kind of performance measures that would be used in an impact evaluation of a service delivery do not exist at present for the MLSI. The Initiative is a pilot and, as such, serves as a test bed from which appropriate performance measures can be developed. Nevertheless, some de facto indicators do exist, such as number of clients needed MLS by regional offices, the language in which service was requested, as well as the type of service required. For telephone-based service, de facto indicators include the office offering the service, language in which service is being provided, as well as the duration and the cost of the call.

85. As for suggestions for improvement of the performance criteria and standards for the MLSI, key informants noted that the measures eventually applied to an MLS program should only be those for which Service Canada can provide a system or systems capable of capturing necessary data. At the moment, such systems are not available. For example, the current First Come First Served (FCFS) system does not require, on a mandatory basis, that the language in which service is given be captured. Further, data on government program and service take up for clients that receive initial service in multi-languages are not tracked systematically.

86. Also, it was evident from the document review that the Draft Logic Model needs to be revised to include leadership and management support. The definition of the ultimate outcome needs to be reconsidered to ensure that it is realistically achievable.

87. In particular, the Evaluators noted that a direct connection between the MLSI activities and the planned ultimate outcomes as indicated in the Draft Logic Model cannot be demonstrated, since many other factors in the economic, social and government or community services settings influence the indicated outcomes for clients that required MLS as much as, or even more, than the provision of information and limited assistance in hands-on services through the MLSI. Thus, the Evaluators consider these outcomes/results to be beyond the current initiative.

5.2 Tools and Processes for Reporting Outcomes/Results

88. As mentioned above, the MLSI is a pilot and has not developed of a complete performance measurement system for reporting outcomes/results. Existing client data collection tools and processes have been used to track as much as possible the number of clients served in the pilot sites and the types of services rendered. However, data all lacked consistent reference to the language in which the client was served.

89. It should be noted that key informant responses suggest that agreement has yet to be reached by all staff levels and all stakeholders on data that will be required to determine the effectiveness of MLS performance, and on the optimum approach for systematically collecting the data. In addition to existing information being collected, some proposed performance indicators include staff and client perception of MLS meeting their needs, the usefulness of fact-sheets, the effectiveness of communications or promotional activities and some impacts of MLS on clients' attitudes towards the federal government, awareness and take-up rates of GoC programs and benefits. Other important indicators related financial information and resources need to be considered when comparing with other service offerings.

5.3 Processes Required for Full Impact Evaluation

90. A majority of key informant respondents expressed the belief that Service Canada is not currently collecting the kind and quantity of data that will be needed to adequately determine whether the pilot MLSI has achieved the expected results. The information collected now is not structured to include the language of service systematically.

91. It was noted that the Service Canada "First Come, First Served” computer tracking system might be used to obtain consistent statistics on program and service take up rates by different client groups (increased take up is a medium-term outcome/result included in the Draft MLSI Logic Model). However, in this data system, the language in which a client is served (other than English or French) is only an optional entry at this time. The system was modified in April 2006 to include all of Service Canada's current service offerings, but language of service remains an optional data entry.

92. At the present time, Service Canada lacks a baseline measurement of the GoC program and service take up rates of clients who might need access to MLS which could be used for comparison with the take-up rates of those clients after a period of MLSI implementation.

6 Key Conclusions

6.1 Key Conclusions about MLSI Relevance

  1. The MLSI statement of objectives and the nature of its activities are consistent with both priorities of the Government of Canada and with Service Canada's strategic objectives, in particular to provide integrated, one-stop service based on citizens' needs and help deliver better policy outcomes. 
  2. MLSI meets genuine and growing needs of Aboriginal Canadians and Newcomers who are not sufficiently capable of accessing and benefiting from Government services to which they are entitled.
  3. While MLSI is targeted to the people who need its services, multi-language services appear to have been offered to persons capable of speaking at least one of Canada's official languages. This may have inadvertently contributed to a higher than necessary workload and the associated costs.

6.2 Key Conclusions about Effectiveness of MLSI Design and Delivery

  1. All four in-person delivery approaches piloted are entirely consistent with those that had been planned.
  2. MLSI employs known good practices, but other practices have been identified that have not yet been considered as pilot options, such as more extensive use of the Internet and machine-translation. Their usage may enhance effectiveness and efficiency (See Appendices D).
  3. In-person multi-language services at SCC are provided where a substantial demand in targeted foreign language (e.g. Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Arabic) warrants provision. This approach might be enhanced by inviting Regions to compete for specially funded MLS Centres of Excellence designed to deliver local client services in specified languages, as well as to provide language-specific leadership at the regional and national levels by means of model facilities. Such an approach might be not only effective by focusing on expertise, but also efficient by generating knowledge and experience that can be readily transferred.
  4. Client satisfaction with MLSI services is high to very high among Aboriginal Canadians and Newcomers, respectively. As their satisfaction varies according to the delivery approach used, this finding indicates a need for differentiation of approach for other segments. However, the business case should recognize that Aboriginal and newcomers have different satisfaction with delivery approach used. This finding indicates a need for differentiation of approach for other segments.
  5. Management practices might be improved, in particular in the areas of internal and external communication and staff training.
  6. Staff work load is intertwined with the choice of delivery approach and tailoring the right delivery approach to local needs is a management challenge. The right choices will have work load and budgetary implications.
  7. The MLSI was intended to support the One-Stop-Shop service concept. There is a potential for MLSI to build on its current scope by helping its clients to access needed information offered by other federal, provincial, municipal and private entities.

6.3 Key Conclusions about Early Results/Success

  1. Aboriginal and Newcomer clients, as well as key informants, consider MLSI effective in improving access and take-up rates to services and benefits offered by the Government of Canada.
  2. MLSI has contributed to the formation and maintenance of effective partnerships with community organizations.
  3. Early success might have been even greater if the MLSI had been promoted more effectively and if funds had been granted for the promotion of the MLSI.

6.4 Key Conclusions about Cost-Effectiveness and Alternatives

  1. A business case for a long-term MLS service delivery is being developed using MLSI pilot experiences and the results of this Evaluation as evidence. However, due to poor planning and rapid implementation of the pilot, cost estimates are weak and should be treated as estimates only. Systematic and detailed analysis of costs and benefits for MLS has yet been done. A first analysis based on limited financial and available client data is contained in Annex E to this evaluation.
  2. Analysis completed for the Evaluation can affirm that the Outreach approach incurs the highest cost per client (about $70) and in-office services incurs the lowest cost per client (about $10). Third Party Telephone Interpretation and Community Partner Delivery do not differ significantly in terms of cost per client (about $30). Cost per client per approach should be interpreted with caution. Eleven to 16 client service agents spent 1% to 3% of their time throughout a year to provide MLS at piloted SCCs. For Outreach approach, cost per client varies significantly with the number of clients seen and served. As each service delivery approach is associated with different degrees of depth and quality of service, it is not surprising that the cost per unit varies. However, and as noted earlier, costing estimates are weak and must be interpreted with caution.
  3. Several complementary approaches merit closer consideration for potential enhancements of the effectiveness and efficiency of MLSI services.
  4. Given the perceived variability of need of different languages groups, their size and geographic concentrations, as well as the widely varying costs of providing MLS, the choice of MLS local delivery approaches might best be left to the discretion of management of Service Canada Regions and Centres, in the context of their future MLSI approved budgets.

6.5 Key Conclusions about Monitoring and Performance Indicators

  1. Service Canada is not collecting the kind and quality of data needed to determine adequately whether the pilot MLSI is achieving the expected results.
  2. Service Canada lacks a baseline measurement of the GoC program and service take up rates of clients who might need access to MLS against which to make future comparisons.
  3. Service Canada's First Come, First Served computer tracking system does not require the mandatory recording of the language, other than English or French, in which a client was served. This limits the usefulness of the system for reporting on the outcomes/results achieved for clients served using MLS.
  4. Achievement of the MLS ultimate outcomes currently included in the Daft MLSI Logic Model cannot be accurately determined within normal service delivery time and resource constraints. Service Canada could not presume to show a direct connection between the MLSI activities and ultimate outcomes suggested by the Draft MLSI Logic Model. Particularly, at the pilot stage, it is unclear if MLS reduces integration challenges for Newcomers or strengthens and enhances Aboriginal communities served by Service Canada. Other socio-economic factors and overall governmental priorities, and community service settings may influence the indicated outcomes for clients that require MLS as much as, or even more, than the provision of information and transactional assistance services through MLSI.

7 Key Areas for Suggested Improvement

  • 1. MLSI be directed exclusively to clients who speak insufficient English or French to gain access to, and benefit from, services of the Government of Canada.
  • 2. Service Canada enhances its MLSI management practices, in particular in the areas of communication and staff training.
  • 3. Service Canada improves and develops performance indicators as well as financial data.
  • 4. Service Canada provides a strong in-person tracking system that will provide timely and accurate data to inform the assessment of costs and benefits of the MLSI in a consistent manner.

Key areas for consideration

  • 5. To enhance multi-language services being offered at SCCs, the Initiative can consider adopting the concept of MLS Centres of Excellence, where regions are invited to compete for additional funds that provide language-specific training at the regional and national levels. MLS Centres of Excellence aim to generate knowledge and best practices that can be readily transferred within the MLS Network.
  • 6. Service Canada considers exploring the usefulness and potential for One-Stop-Shop service for MLSI to help its clients to access needed information offered by other federal departments and agencies or partnering provincial, municipal and private entities.

Appendix A: Summary of Provincial/Territorial Multi-language Services

BRITISH COLUMBIA

  • Enquiry BC (telephone call centre similar to 1 800 O-Canada)
    Some multi-lingual staff is available. Any other multi-lingual inquiries are directed to Cantalk.
    • The service has been offered for over six years.
    • They do not advertise the service.
    • They receive no more than 20 multi-lingual requests per month.
    • There is no mandate for Service BC to offer multi-lingual services in their Government Agent Offices. The contract with Cantalk does not serve their in-person offices.
    • Staff can use any of the 150 languages offered by Cantalk.
    • They do not track the languages requested by service offering. They only track the services requested.
  • Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC)
    • ICBC is a provincial Crown corporation established to provide universal auto insurance. The Corporation is responsible for driver licensing, vehicle registration and licensing.
    • Clients are able to take their written tests in multiple languages: on the computer and with voice-over: French Cantonese, Punjabi, Mandarin; on the computer no voice-over: Croatian, Russian, Spanish Vietnamese; on paper only: Arabic, Farsi.
    • Written tests must be completed in English.
  • Multi-language publications available online
    • Newcomers' Guide to Resources and Services available in Punjabi, French Korean, Traditional and Simplified Chinese.
    • Senior's guide available in French, Punjabi and Chinese.
    • Enquiry Centre Service Code and Ministerial values available in Chinese, Filipino, French, Hindi, Persian, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese.
    • Fact sheets on various topics including Child protection and mediation, Pandemic Influenza, Employment standards. All of these are translated into at least four if not more of the following languages: Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Punjabi, Farsi, French Korean, Tagalog, Filipino, Polish, Russian.

ALBERTA

  • Service Alberta
    • Service Alberta provides three streams of service:
      1. Utilities – this group serves as an ombudsman for the Government of Alberta;
      2. Consumer Services – this group ensures fair trade in commerce across the province; and,
      3. Registries – interface between the provincial government and the registry offices.
    • Registries:
      • Registries are 225 privately owned issuing offices which are the retail arm of the provincial government. They offer motor vehicle registration and licensing, vital statistics, corporate registries, personal property and land titles.
      • These registries are not required to provide services in any language other than English. However, owners generally come from the community they serve so in theory they would represent the demographic make-up of the community. They are encouraged to provide service in the languages required in their communities.

Alberta International and Intergovernmental Relations (IIR)

  • Fact sheets on the province including information on the Geography, People, Site-seeing, Economy, Energy Rankings and Economic Development are available in: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian.
  • IIR advertises a number to call if you're a citizen or if you're a government department to access certified interpreters. This service is not paid for by the province.

MANITOBA

  • Manitoba Cancer Care
    • The organization provides publications on breast cancer, cancer treatments, and pap smears in foreign languages including: English, French, Chinese, Filipino, German, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Urdu, Amharic, Arabic, Dinka, Farsi, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, and Ukrainian.
    • As well one publication is available in three Aboriginal languages: Cree Roman, Cree, Ojibwe Roman.
    • Publications are available for download from the web.

ONTARIO

Telehealth Ontario

  • Telehealth Ontario is available in English and French with translation support for 110 languages and a direct TTY number at 1-866-797-0007 for people with a hearing impairment or speech difficulty.

Multi-language fact sheets found online

  • Influenza pandemic - 22 foreign languages and one Aboriginal language.
  • Centre for addiction and mental health fact sheets – 15 foreign languages.
  • About mental health (fact sheet).
  • Asking for help when things are not right.
  • Understanding Addiction.
  • Coping with Stress.
  • Smoke free Ontario - 20 foreign languages and 5 Aboriginal Languages.

The Ministry of Labour

  • Information about employment workplace rights and responsibilities is available in 20 foreign languages and one Aboriginal language.
  • In 2006, the Ministry launched a multi-language outreach program where staff present information on various topics in foreign languages to community organizations including: Canadian Arab Federation, the Chinese Professional Association of Canada, the Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood Social Services, the Canadian Netherlands Business & Professional Association, the Korean Canadian Association of Metro Toronto, the Ontario Korean Businessman's Association and the Federation of Export Clubs of Canada.
  • Other Ministry of Labour listed initiatives include:
    • Developing community partnerships with the Centre for Information and Community Services (CICS), reaching out to vulnerable workers, providing multilingual information about employment rights.
    • Launching a two-year partnership agreement with SISO (Settlement and Integration Services Organization) of Hamilton where councillors and staff were trained to explain workers' rights in over 40 languages.

Employment Ontario

  • Offers multilingual web access, with all program information available in 21 languages in addition to English and French including three Aboriginal languages.
  • Foreign: Arabic, Chinese (Traditional), Farsi, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.
  • Aboriginal: Cree, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree

Language Interpreter Services For Victims Of Domestic Violence1

  • The Ontario government is investing $2.1 million in 10 organizations to provide spoken-language interpretation services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in over 60 languages.
  • The Language Interpreter Services Program is part of the government's comprehensive, four-year $68 million Domestic Violence Action Plan.
  • Social, health and legal services and associated agencies that receive the Ontario's Government grants deliver interpretation services at no cost. Women use the interpreter services when dealing with police officers, Crown attorneys, the Victim/Witness Assistance Program, the Partner Assault Response Program, and probation and parole officers. 

  1. Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration web site

QUEBEC

  • The structure of the Government of Quebec (French) website is mirrored in English and Spanish. Basic information is translated into all three languages but many pages are only available in French.

NEW BRUNSWICK

  • The province publishes information booklets on moving to New Brunswick in German, Korean, and Chinese

NOVA SCOTIA

  • The executive summary of a document on diversity and social inclusion in primary health care was translated into French and Arabic.

NUNAVUT

  • The Department of Education has a bilingual education strategy. Its goal is to graduate students who are fully bilingual in Inuktitut and English.
  • The English government site is almost mirrored into Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut.
  • Some downloadable forms on the website are bilingual (English and Inuktitut) such as the Birth, Death and Marriage certificate applications.
  • Nunavut's translation policy states that all Nunavummiut are entitled to receive government service in English, French and Inuktitut.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

  • The Department of Culture, Heritage and Language has a languages Division. The Languages Division is mandated, through the Canada-NWT Cooperation Agreement on Languages, to deliver translation and program services for French, Cree, Inuktitut (Inuvialuktun and Inuinnaqtun), Chipewyan, Gwich'in, North and South Slavey and Dogrib speakers across the territory.
  • The Official Languages Act recognizes eleven official languages in the Northwest Territories : Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich'in, Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Inuvialuktun and South Slavey. North Slavey is also an official language but was included as part of the “Other Category” of languages in the 2001 Census.

Appendix B: Multi-Language Service Initiative Pilots in Aboriginal Languages – FY 2007/08

Approach: IN-PERSON -SERVICE CANADA CENTRES — (SCCs)
Dedicated SC staff who speak targeted language in selected SCCs
Region  Location  Languages 
ON  Kenora Ojibwe
SK  La Ronge; Stony Rapids Cree; Denesuline
AB/NWT-NUNAVUT Nunavut : Rankin Inlet; Iqaluit; Cambridge Bay Inuktitut; Inuinnaqtun
NS  Port Hawkesbury or Sydney; Halifax or Truro Mi'qmaw
QC  Kuujjuaq  
Approach: SCHEDULED/MOBILE OUTREACH
Dedicated SC staff who speak targeted languages
Region  Location  Languages 
ON  Kenora (Scheduled – 8 sites)
NW Angle #33; NW Angle 37; Shoal Lake #39; Shoal Lake #40; Washagamis Bay; Dalles; Rat Portage; Whitefish Bay
Ojibwe
NS  Mobile - Cape Breton; Antigonish; Mainland Nova Scotia; Mi'qmaw
AB/NWT- NUNAVUT Nunavut (Scheduled – 10 sites)
Artic Bay/Nanisivik; Cape Dorset; Chesterfield Inlet; Coral Harbour; Kugaaruk; Pangnirtung; Repulse Bay; Taloyoak; Whale Cove; Gjoa Haven
Inuktitut; Inuinnaqtun
SK  (Scheduled – 3 sites)
Buffalo Narrows; Stony Rapids; Hudson Bay
(Mobile – 3 sites)
Fond du Lac; Wollaston Lake; LaLoche; Pelican Narrows
Cree; Denesuline
NB  (Scheduled – 2 sites)
Tobique; St. Mary's
Maliseet
(Scheduled)
Eel Ground; Red Bank
Mi'kmaq
(Mobile Outreach – as required)  
Approach: SCHEDULED/MOBILE OUTREACH
SC Staff accompanied by an accredited Interpreter
Region  Location  Languages 
QC  Nunavik – 9 Communities
Northern Quebec
Innus; Crie, Algonquins, Naskapi
NL  (Scheduled):
Sheshatshiu
(Mobile – 3 sites)
Nain; Hopedale; Natuashish;
Innu-Aimun
(Mobile – 3 sites)
Makkovik; Rigolet; Postville
Inuktitut
Approach: THIRD PARTY TELEPHONE INTERPRETATION SERVICE
(National Contract)
Region  Location  Languages 
SK  Regina SCC; Melfort SCC; LaRonge SCC and via outreach  8 Aboriginal languages/dialects
MB TBC 
Approach: CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP/COLLABORATIVE ARRANGEMENT WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS (SCCOs)
Region  Location  Languages 
ON  Kenora  
MB Aboriginal Language Centre Aboriginal

Appendix C: Inventory of Multi-Language Service Initiative Pilots in Foreign Languages – FY 2007/08

Approach: IN-PERSON -SERVICE CANADA CENTRES (SCCs)
Dedicated SC staff who speak targeted language in selected SCCs
Region Location Languages
ON  Etobicoke Punjabi, Cantonese
Ottawa W. Arabic, Mandarin
Approach: SCHEDULED/MOBILE OUTREACH
Dedicated SC staff who speak targeted languages
Region Location Languages
BC/YUKON
(Scheduled - 6 sites)
United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society Mandarin, Cantonese
(SUCCESS) – Vancouver; Mandarin, Cantonese
Multilingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Lansdowne Mall – Richmond; Mandarin, Cantonese
Surrey Delta Immigrant Services Society (SDISS)- Surrey; Punjabi
Sunset Community Centre-Vancouver; Punjabi
Progressive Intercultural Service (PICS)- Surrey Punjabi
ONTARIO
(Scheduled – 15 sites)
Rexdale/Jamestown : 1620 Albion; 925 Albion; 23 Westmore Dr.; Northwood Neighbourhood; Elmbank Community; North Kipling; Albion Public Library; Jane Sheppard Library; Woodview Park Library 16-18 Bradstock Rd; North York Community House 700 Lawrence; Jane-Finch-Humber River Reg Hospital 2111 Finch; Weston/Mt. St.Denis-Humber River Reg Hospital 200 Church St.; Lawrence Heights Humber River Reg Hospital 2175 Keele St; Rexdale/Jamestown William Osler Health 101 Humber College Blvd.; Lawrence Heights George Harvey Collegiate Inst. 170 Keele Punjabi, Cantonese
Approach: SCHEDULED/MOBILE OUTREACH
SC Staff accompanied by an accredited Interpreter
Region Location Languages
QUE.  Montreal Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic
Approach: THIRD PARTY TELEPHONE INTERPRETATION SERVICE
(National Contract)
Region Location Languages
ON  Etobicoke; Lakeside; Ottawa W.  40 foreign languages
SK  Regina SCC; Melfort SCC; La Ronge SCC   
MB  Winnipeg Centre, Brandon, Steinbach, Morden  
NS  Halifax  
QC  Montréal North, Montréal West  
BC/YUKON Surrey - TBC   
Approach: CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP/COLLABORATIVE ARRANGEMENT WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS (SCCOs)
Region Location Languages
AB  Calgary – Calgary Centre for Newcomers; Edmonton - TBA  Punjabi; Hindu; Urdu; Cantonese; Mandarin; Vietnamese; Serbo-Croatian; Arabic; Spanish; Russian

Appendix D: Good or Best Practices for MLS in Other Organizations and Jurisdictions

City of Toronto Policy on Multi-lingual Service Provision1

  • Process for selecting languages to be used in providing service
    • In Toronto, city staff first consulted about the need for multi-language services with a variety of stakeholders including Members of Council, representatives from the Access and Equity Unit of the Chief Administrative Office and staff from departments and agencies.
    • As a second step, city staff developed an approach to the selection of languages for document translation and/or provision of interpretation services. That approach involved the use of a number of factors in making the selections, including:
      • Obtaining the views on language services required from front-line staff responsible for program and service delivery;
      • Applying demographic information. Demographic information is useful when a particular message is targeted to all City residents. Languages accessed through the City's Language Line Services (over-the-phone interpretation service) is also a useful guide.
      • Ascertaining the language needs of a particular community. When narrowing the target audience to specific communities, the language needs of ethno-racial groups in those communities must be determined. This is often the case for certain public health or public education programs where staff are able to identify specific ethnic communities, or specific population groups, as the intended recipients of a message.
      • Ascertaining the language needs of a particular geographic area or neighbourhood. When the message is intended for easily identifiable geographic areas, the prominent languages spoken in that particular area must be determined. This is an approach often used by Works and Emergency Services, for example, when it communicates information about road or water main work in a particular neighbourhood.
      • Type of information to be communicated. Priorities may also be established based upon the nature and type of information. For example, a document which addresses life-threatening issues such as carbon monoxide poisoning or immunization is identified as a priority for translation. The length of a document should also be taken into consideration; for many documents a summary is appropriate.
  • Arranging for the delivery of service in other languages
    • The delivery of multilingual services requires sound judgement and decision-making in ascertaining how interpretation and translation needs can be met in the most effective manner.
    • Individual units in departments are asked to establish lists of employees who speak other languages and who are willing to provide an informal interpretation service to help overcome language barriers in the delivery of customer service.
  • Ontario Access Alliance
    • Access Alliance was established in 1989 with four ethno-cultural communities coming together to create the Centre in response to their identification of significant barriers to services for immigrants and refugees.
    • Ontario Access Alliance collaborated with Health Canada to establish the Health Care Interpreter Services Project.2 The project was founded on the principle that effective communication is crucial to ensuring quality and access to primary health care, and that appropriate interpreting services in the delivery of health care reduces language barriers, thus creating more equitable access to quality health care services for patients with limited English and/or French proficiency (LEP/LFP).
    • The project involves working with interpreters trained to practice in the primary health care sector. The aim is to improve quality of service as a result of accurate transmission of messages to patients with LEP/LFP, ultimately reducing risk and liability, and facilitating coordination and integration with other health services.
    • By creating a national network of stakeholders, the project leveraged results far beyond what any one organization or jurisdiction could achieve on its own. In essence, the delivery of primary health care services to patients with LEP/LFP was improved not by the creation of new programs and organizations, but by improving access to existing services.
    • An importance practice advanced in this project was the demonstration of the need for an overarching policy to guide the provision of language access services for patients with LEP/LFP. The project results showed that a shift in policy can best be stimulated not as a means of advocating the rights of individuals with LEP/LFP, but rather as a means of avoiding the undue risk and lack of quality services that this segment of the population faces on a daily basis as they try to access health care services. Framing the development of broad policy frameworks in terms of patient safety, quality and risk management that does not exclude any segment of Canada's diverse population is in keeping with other current health care reforms.

  1. City of Toronto Multilingual Services Policy, February 15, 2002
  2. Ontario Access Alliance web site

Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment: Indian and Métis Education Staff Development Program1

  • The program and its evaluation
    • The purpose of the evaluation was to provide information to the Indian and Métis Education Branch of Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment on its staff Development Program. The Staff Development program involved consultants from Saskatchewan Education, Training and Development working with local school community teams. The program had three main components:
      • An introductory seminar;
      • Resources including a binder of information and materials, catalogues, and department consultants; and,
      • Networking meetings.
    • By the end of the 1992 school year, approximately 55 school community teams, comprising 213 individuals, had participated in the staff development program.
    • First year teams attended a three-day introductory seminar, which is usually held in the summer. At the seminar team members were given resources relating to developing Indian and Métis awareness and participation, cross cultural education, material evaluation, instructional approaches, and strategies for effective staff development, team building, and planning for change.
    • The in-service consultants from the Indian and Métis Education Branch worked closely with school community teams during the first year of the teams' involvement in the program. Networking meetings were used for sharing information and ideas among team members. As local teams grew more experienced, the amount of time required of the department consultants decreased.
  • Potential application of evaluation findings to the MLSI 
    • This program presents an approach that might be adopted to promote MLSI staffs' awareness and understanding of Newcomers and Aboriginal people and to provide them with information and skills that would help them to serve, more appropriately, Newcomers and Aboriginal people.
    • In general, a staff development program cannot be considered a “quick fix”. However, there is sufficient evidence from the Saskatchewan experience that brief seminars that include in-service consultants from the communities that are targets for multi-language services can meet the objective of increasing cross-cultural and language sensitivity awareness.

  1. Evaluating an Indian and Metis Education Staff Development Program, Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment, Regina, Saskatchewan; 1993

The Multi-Lingual Information Society Programme (MLIS) of the European Union (EU)

Two conclusions from a major program evaluation on multilingualism in the EU provide a notion of “what works well” in this field.1

  • For further interventions in the field of the multilingual information society it would be helpful if there was a comprehensive EU language policy that could provide a framework for all relevant interventions. Otherwise, given the large number of relevant programmes there is a danger of confusion and a dilution of effort.
  • One objective of the multi-lingual programme was to "prepare the development of an operational machine translation system in the nine official Community languages and deliver a high level scientific prototype system”. The evaluation concluded “that a single technological solution to the problem of language barriers within the EU was unlikely to be developed in the short or medium term.”

The purpose of the European Union's machine translation service is to assist multilingual communication between European public administrations. This initiative might be a useful approach to provide access to the Aboriginal and Newcomer clients to the full array of information available through the Service Canada website, and to other documents that may be of interest.


  1. Final Evaluation of the Multi-Lingual Information Society Programme of the European Union, produced by ECOTEC, June 2000

US Federal Office for Civil Rights

  • Under US law, health care providers need to notify limited English proficient (LEP) patients regarding their right to language assistance services when needed. Health care providers have a responsibility to ensure that their policies and procedures do not deny their patients access to health care services because of a language barrier. The key to providing access to health care services for LEP persons is to ensure that the language assistance provided results in accurate and effective communication between the provider and the LEP patient.
  • The federal Office for Civil Rights recommends doing the following to ensure compliance with the law in providing community health care services:
    • Assess the language needs of the patient populations;
    • Develop a written policy regarding language access that will ensure meaningful communication;
    • Train staff members so they understand the policy and are capable of carrying it out; and,
    • Monitor to ensure LEP patients have meaningful access to health care.

Oregon Office of Multicultural Health

  • The Office of Civil Rights compliance guidance document suggests that the health care organization first inform the LEP patient of the right to receive free interpreter services. The use of family and/or friends as interpreters should occur only after the offer for assistance has been declined and documented in the patient's record. Oregon administrative rule will also require that refusal for free interpreter services is documented in the patient's record.
  • Oregon is exploring the viability of implementing an online central registry of certified interpreters, detailing the languages they are certified in. Other resources for language assistance include:
    • Community volunteer networks;
    • Telephone language lines;
    • Private interpreters/agencies;
    • Approved online database for court certified interpreters; and,
    • Use of family members as interpreters.

Aboriginal Interpreter Service of Northern Region of Australia1

  • The Aboriginal Interpreter Service helps to alleviate the language barriers faced by Indigenous persons throughout the Northern Territory particularly in relation to health and legal issues. The Service was established in April 2000 and maintains and utilises a register of Aboriginal interpreters and languages in the Northern Territory. It provides an Aboriginal Language Interpreter Service for government and non-government agencies that require on-site Aboriginal language interpreters.
  • The Aboriginal Interpreter Service provides service 24 hours 7 days a week.

  1. Department of Local Government, Housing, Sport, Northern Territory Government, Australia, web site

Centrelink of the Government of Australia1

  • Centrelink is a fully supported, funded, and staffed Internet gateway service providing access to Aboriginal languages interpretation services in Australia.
    • To help customers understand Centrelink services, Centrelink provides interpreters at no cost to customers. Interpreters are available by appointment in Centrelink Customer Service Centres.
    • Centrelink provides interpreters at no cost to customers.
    • Where necessary to support a claim, Centrelink also provides a free translation service for customer documents.
    • AS A BEST PRACTICE: Interpreters employed by Centrelink are covered by confidentiality provisions and a Code of Ethics, which means customers can be reassured that any information learned through an interview conducted by an interpreter will remain confidential.

  1. Centrelink, Government of Australia, web site

Appendix E: Cost Summary

E.1 Newcomer Clients

TABLE 4
Estimated Cost for Delivering Multi-Languages Services to Newcomer Clients In Selected Service Canada Centers (SCCs) and through Scheduled or Mobile Outreach Service, Fiscal Year 2006-07
MLS Delivery Approaches Salaries ($) Non-salaries ($) O & M ($)
(see note 4)
Total ($)
In-person in eight (8) SCCs $15,197
(see note 1)
$0 $2,036 $17,233
Scheduled and/or mobile outreach (39 visits per month) $484,070
(see note 2)
$96,000 $64,856 $644,926
Community partnership (one partnering contract) N/A N/A $35,000 $35,000
(see note 3)
Third-party telephone interpretation, FY 2006-07 and 2007-08 N/A N/A $2,906 $2,906
(see note 5)
Factsheets in 12 foreign languages, FY 2006-07 and 2007-08 $63,429 $40,262 $8,499 $112,190
(see note 6)
Total estimated costs for delivering MLS to Newcomer clients  $562,696 $136,262 $113,297 $812,255 

Sources: Service Canada Inventory of Multi-Language Service Initiative Pilots for Aboriginal and Foreign languages and responses to specific questions on client volumes from key informants.

Note 1: Maximum salary estimates are based on the assumption that six (6) client service agents at the PM-01 level and one coordinator at level PM-02 spend 3% of their time throughout the year providing services in multi-languages at piloted SC centers. In addition, estimates include four (4) client service agents at the PM-01 level and one coordinator at level PM-03 spending 2% of their time providing MLSI in selected Service Canada centers. Maximum annual rates of pay effective of June 21, 2006 for PM-01, PM-02 and PM-03 were $48,430, $51,989 and $55,724, respectively.

Note 2: Maximum salary estimates for scheduled and/or mobile outreach were based on the assumption that eight (8) client service agents at the PM-01 level and one manager at level PM-03 spend 100% of their time throughout the year providing services in multi-languages via outreach. Six (6) client service agents at the PM-01 level spend 10% of their time providing MLS through outreach with the coordination of two agents of the PM-02 and PM-03 levels spending 10% of their time providing MLS.

Note 3: Community partnership contract with the Calgary Centre for Newcomers is for $35,000 for one year duration.

Note 4: Where applicable, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expenditures represent 13.4% of total salary costs per MLS approach.

Note 5: Third party telephone interpretation costs are actual expenses charged to Service Canada by CANTALK for the period of September 2006 to August 2007 and from 10 locations of 41 (24 SCCs and 17 scheduled outreach sites). CANTALK services were available only to Newcomer clients and actual expenses are annualized for the analysis.

Note 6: It was assumed that salary and non-salary costs projected for producing factsheets were equally distributed across 21 languages and dialects (9 Aboriginal languages and 12 foreign languages). For salary, $111,000 was projected and $40,262 for non-salary is based on actual expenditures.

E.2 Aboriginal Clients

TABLE 5
Estimated Cost for Delivering Multi-Languages Services to Aboriginal Clients in Selected Service Canada Centers (SCCs) and through Scheduled or Mobile Outreach Service, Fiscal Year 2006-07
MLS Delivery Approaches Salaries ($) Non-salaries ($) O & M ($)
(note 9)
Total ($)
In-person in six (6) SCC  $21,407
(see note 7)
$5,000 $2,868 $29,275
Scheduled and/or mobile outreach at 25 sites $28,919
(see note 8)
$172,042 $3,875 $204,836
Factsheets in 9 Aboriginal languages, FY 2006-07 and 2007-08 $47,571 $30,197 $6,375 $84,143
(see note 10)
Total estimated costs for delivering MLS to Aboriginal clients  $97,897 $207,239 $13,118 $318,254 

Sources: Service Canada Inventory of Multi-Language Service Initiative Pilots for Aboriginal and Foreign languages and responses to specific questions on client volumes from key informants.

Note 7: Maximum salary estimates are based on the assumption that five (5) client service agents at the PM-01 level spend 1% of their time throughout the year providing services in multi-languages at piloted SC centers. In addition, estimates include 11 client service agents at the PM-01 level spending 3% of their time providing MLS in selected Service Canada centers. Maximum annual rates of pay effective of June 21, 2006 for PM-01, PM-02 and PM-03 were $48,430, $51, 989 and $55,724, respectively.

Note 8: Maximum salary estimates for scheduled and/or mobile outreach were based on the assumption that two (2) client service agents at the PM-01 level and one manager at level PM-02 spend 7% of their time throughout the year providing services in multi-languages via outreach. Six to 10 client service agents at the PM-01 level spend 1% to 5% of their time providing MLS through outreach.

Note 9: Where applicable, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expenditures represent 13.4% of total salary costs per MLS approach.

Note 10: It was assumed that salary and non-salary costs projected for producing factsheets were equally distributed across 21 languages and dialects (9 Aboriginal languages and 12 foreign languages). For salary, $111,000 was projected and $30,197 for non-salary is based on actual expenditures.

E.3 Unit/Per Client Costs

E.3.1 Newcomer MLS Client Volumes and Per Client Costs

TABLE 6
Estimated Newcomer Clients in Selected Service Canada Centers (SCCs) and through Scheduled or Mobile Outreach Service, Fiscal Year 2006-07
MLS Delivery Approaches Number of Clients per Month Number of Clients per Year Cost per Client (annual costs from Table 3.1/clients per year)
In-person in 8 SCCs 142
(see note 11)
1,707 $10.10
(full services)
Scheduled and/or mobile outreach 1,480
(see note 12)
17,760 $36.31
(full services)
Third-party telephone interpretation N/A
(see note 13)
83 $35.02
(basic services)
Community partnership (one partnering contract) 88
(see note 14)
1,056 $33.14
(basic services)

Sources: Service Canada Inventory of Multi-Language Service Initiative Pilots for Aboriginal and Foreign languages and responses to specific questions on client volumes from key informants.

Note 11: The number of Newcomer clients for in-person service per month represents the actual number of Newcomer clients at the SCC in Etobicoke over the period of October 2006 to June 2007. For the Ottawa West SCC, the actual number of Newcomer clients was collected over the period of February to October 2007. Both data sources were annualized for the cost analysis.

Note 12: For scheduled and/or mobile outreach in British Columbia, an estimated 47 Newcomer clients are seen each visit. For Ontario and more particularly with the Etobicoke's outreach team, 1,848 Newcomer clients received services over 81 visits.

Note 13: For third party telephone interpretation, the client volume is the actual number of calls made from the SCCs serving Newcomers using the Service Canada contract for the period of September 2006 to August 2007. The number of calls is taken as equivalent to the number of clients served during the time period. Monthly estimates are not relevant as the annual volume was available from the summary of CANTALK invoices for services submitted to Service Canada.

Note 14: Number of clients was provided by Service Canada Community Partner in Calgary.

E.3.2 Aboriginal MLS Client Volumes and Per Client Costs

TABLE 7
Estimated Aboriginal Clients in Selected Service Canada Centers (SCCs) and through Scheduled or Mobile Outreach Service, Fiscal Year 2006-07
MLS Delivery Approaches Number of Clients per Month Number of Clients per Year Cost per Client
In-person in 6 SCCs 243
(see note 14)
2,917 $10.04
(full services)
Scheduled and/or mobile outreach (25 sites) 243
(see note 15)
2,917 $70.22
(full services)

Sources: Service Canada Inventory of Multi-Language Service Initiative Pilots for Aboriginal and Foreign languages and responses to specific questions on client volumes from key informants.

Note 14: For Aboriginal clients, estimated number of clients for in-person service per month represents the actual number of clients who visited Service Canada Centre (SCC) in Kenora (one office), three (3) piloted offices in Alberta, Nunavut and Northwest Territories regions, and two (2) offices in Saskatchewan. All data were annualized for the cost analysis.

Note 15: For Aboriginal clients receiving service through scheduled and/or outreach, the number of clients seen per month included in the scheduled and/or mobile outreach sites are: six (6) sites in Kenora, 14 sites in Alberta, Nunavut and Northwest Territories regions, three (3) Saskatchewan sites, and two (2) New-Brunswick sites. All data were annualized for the cost analysis.