All parties are very satisfied with the project's performance. Although the means of evaluation were unclear during the first phase, the project was assessed more in qualitative terms.
Circulation of Information
At first the objective of the Ambassadeur project was to provide socioeconomic information that addressed the concerns of citizens through the CACs. In the first phase, all clienteles were targeted. The regional results indicate that, in a very short time, the information officers managed to reach a substantial number of people. In the second phase, the energy was focused more on employability. A follow-up tool was used with some participants and, in some areas, it was found that, as a result of information officer intervention, a number of the people landed jobs.
The "Ambassadors" quickly realized that the CACs were ideal places to provide information and lead sessions, and that their involvement gave new life to some CACs.
With a tool such as the Internet, it is difficult to evaluate the extent to which people who attended a session absorbed the information, among other reasons due to the lack of counters at the websites and the absence of a control group with the same characteristics as the pilot-project region but no Ambassadeur. On the other hand, some CFDCs took initiatives that to us reveal the interest sparked by their efforts in the community.
The Lac St-Jean Ouest CFDC created a website about the Ambassadeur project. From February 28, 2000 to January 25, 2001, the site received 2,545 hits compared to 500 for the CFDC since its creation. The Haut-Saguenay CFDC produced an Internet guide that was handed out at the information sessions and sold at a modest price ($2.00). The Fjord and Lac St-Jean Est CFDCs organized contests in which contestants had to find information at specified sites and qualified to win a computer. The Fjord CFDC, by checking the IP addresses of contestants, found that the connections did not just come from CACs.
Although information tools adapted to the needs of the groups were developed in each community, the project's performance is closely tied to the quality of information officer selection. The candidate profile for the project called for communication and training skills and talents combined with a knowledge of new information technologies, and not computer scientists. As you may recall, each CFDC was responsible for their selection and the profile had been worked out with HRDC assistance.
The results achieved confirm that this approach produced unexpected dividends. The information officers quickly become community resource persons and were approached to obtain information, to learn how to find specific information and to plan information sessions. Their ability to enter the communities and arouse public interest gave the CFDCs unhoped-for exposure, yet also created pressure to add this service as part of their offering.