MCIS & Pii Introduce: Language Policy Hackathon

By: Jack Xu

By Eliana Trinaistic, Social Impact Manager

In 2019, Canada will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the first Official Languages Act of 1969. To ensure that the language rights are guaranteed (as outlined in the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), the Act has undergone revision, albeit only one, and that was 20 years ago. The Government recognized the need for modernizing the policy. So in 2018, public consultations on the modernization of the Official Languages Act were conducted. However, the results of these consultations are still not published, and many of us heavily invested in the outcomes had no chance to contribute.

Over the past 20 years, significant changes have shaped Canadian society – demographics, gender and immigration, urbanization and gig economy, environment, and above all, the impact of media and technology accelerating the change upon the work and rights of official and non-official language communities alike (Metis, Inuit, Aboriginal, as well as immigrant groups). Given the complexity of this latter issue, we are partnering with The Policy Innovation Initiative (Pii), a Graduate Public Policy student organization at the Munk School of Public Policy at the University of Toronto, to conduct a Hackathon in January 2019. The Pii is known for providing professionals and students with innovation and design skills, published reports, and workshops/ hackathons. Their objective is to support a new generation of public policy professionals and change-makers with an enhanced capacity to address multidisciplinary challenges.

Given our past success with the 2017 Migration Data Hackathon (MigrahackTO), MCIS felt confident enough to approach the Pii to help us in reimagining the Official Languages Act.  Our joint event, Language Policy Hackathon, will gather language professionals, service providers, funders, students, academics, public organizations, as well as public servants working in related Ministries. The event will be happening at the following time and place:

Monday, January 28th, 2019, 9am – 5pm
The Canadiana Gallery, 14 Queen’s Park Crescent, Toronto, Ontario

Attendance for the Language Policy Hackathon is by invitation only.

The structure will include a short presentation of current findings followed by conversations and solutions relevant to 8 selected areas of impact:

  1. 1. Immigration Services and Social services (e.g. Ontario Works, settlement)
  2. 2. Healthcare Services
  3. 3. Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
  4. 4. Education and Job Training
  5. 5. Legal Information and Services
  6. 6. Translation and Interpretation Services
  7. 7. Labour Relations and Services
  8. 8. News and Media Relations Impact (inclusive of “disaster communication” e.g. environmental catastrophes)

Interested in keeping track of the Language Hackathon? Follow along on our social media, using the hashtags #languagehack and #polihack.




To learn more about the Pii, please visit their website