Here are answers to frequently asked questions. If you do not find the answer to your question in this category, do not hesitate to contact us.
- What is the purpose of Ontario’s French Languages Services Act?
- What does the French Language Services Commissioner do?
- What are the limits on what the French Language Services Commissioner can do?
- Can the French Language Services Commissioner impose fines or other sanctions on institutions that fall short of their obligations under the Act?
- How do I make a complaint to the French Language Services Commissioner?
- How do I know if my complaint falls within the Commissioner’s mandate?
- Can I file a complaint regarding services from a municipality?
- If I were to file a complaint would my name be given out or would it remain anonymous?
- What is a complaint that is admissible or inadmissible?
- Where can I file a complaint?
- What happens after filing a complaint?
- What are the designated areas?
- What is the difference between the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and the Office of Francophone Affairs?
- Who can appeal to the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner?
- How soon to lodge a complaint?
The preamble of the Act recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and underlines the willingness of lawmakers to preserve it for future generations.
The French Language Services Commissioner receives complaints from the public and then carries out investigations. The Commissioner can also self-initiate investigations.
At the end of an investigation, the Commissioner shall communicate any recommendations to parliamentarians, the deputy head or other administrative head of the institution concerned and the complainant. The Commissioner reports annually to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
The French Language Services Commissioner is not authorized to investigate complaints regarding the private sector. The Commissioner can, however, receive complaints about and investigate private-sector companies that deliver services on the province’s behalf.
Can the French Language Services Commissioner impose fines or other sanctions on institutions that fall short of their obligations under the FLSA?
No. The Act gives the Commissioner the authority to investigate complaints from the public and formulate corrective measures in the form of recommendations. If the concerned institution does not make the changes or does not comply with the recommendations, the Commissioner may reveal this lack of commitment, especially in the annual report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Information on how to file a complaint can be found in this section.
First, is the complaint about a service received or not received in French? Second, is the complaint aimed at:
- A provincial government institution?
- A third party delivering services to the public on behalf of a provincial government institution?
- A Crown corporation?
- A court, court service or other administrative tribunal in the province?
- A Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)?
If the answer is “yes” in any of these cases, the odds are quite good that your complaint falls within the Commissioner’s mandate.
The definition of a “government agency” set out in the French Language Services Act does not include municipalities. In each of his meetings, the Commissioner is asked about the role of the municipalities. There is a distinction to be made between municipality acting on its own behalf, exercising its own powers, and municipality acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario through a transfer of responsibility.
When a municipality adopts a regulation for the delivery of French-language services and communication, it is bound by the terms and conditions of Subsection 14(2) of the Act, which are essentially the same as the terms and conditions binding any head or central office of the government under Section 5 of the Act.
As a general rule, all complaints received are confidential and every effort is made to keep the complainant’s identity confidential. In such cases, we would have to communicate again with complainants wishing to keep their identity confidential in order to tell them that their request made it difficult for us to proceed as additional exchanges between our office and the institution required the transmission of information which would in turn reveal their identity. In those cases we would prefer discussing this matter with the complainant and ensure that we had permission to proceed further.
If the complainant goes public and announces to the media that he plans to file a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner, the confidentiality requirement no longer applies and the Office of the Commissioner is no longer bound by it.
A complaint will be deemed admissible if the complaint must be brought up against a government agency of the province of Ontario.
A government agency can be a ministry of the Government of Ontario. It can be a board, commission or corporation the majority of whose members or directors are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. It can also be a non-profit corporation or similar entity that provides a service to the public is subsidized in whole or in part by public money and is designated as a public service agency.
Complaints may be filed with the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner in person, over the telephone, by email, by courier or by fax. The Commissioner invites any complainant to provide his name, address, and contact information. All information provided to the Office of the Commissioner will remain confidential. The Commissioner invites individuals to contact his Office, even though they may not have all of the information that is required or all of the details of the situation. Here’s how to reach us.
If, in the opinion of the Office of the Commissioner, the complaint is admissible, that is to say, the Commissioner has competency under the Act to review the complaint, it must then be determined whether it can be resolved quickly.
If the complaint is of a systemic nature, an official notice of investigation will be sent to the administrative head of the government agency concerned.
What is the difference between the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and the Office of Francophone Affairs?
The Office of Francophone Affairs leads consultations with the public, provides liaison between the ministries and the community, participates in community development, and, in particular, advises and supports the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs on the creation of new policies that are adapted to the needs of Ontario’s Francophones. The Office of the Commissioner, on the other hand, is responsible for surveying and taking the pulse of the community with respect to French-language services, receiving and handling complaints and investigating them if necessary, and following up by making recommendations to parliamentarians. The Office of the Commissioner may also conduct its own independent investigations of ministries and agencies.
Any person who lives or who is passing through Ontario and considers that he has not received a French service of quality from the Government of Ontario can lodge a complaint by contacting the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner.
There is no minimum time limit for filing complaints. However, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner recommends the complainant to file his or her complaint within a reasonable time for a question of efficiency in the investigation process.