News

A Directive without Direction: Challenges of Advertising in the Francophone media of Ontario

Press release (PDF)

TORONTO, April 11, 2018 – Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau today announced the findings of the investigation into government advertising, which showed that the advertising model currently practised is inadequate to support Francophone media. The report makes it clear that it is now, in 2018, essential for the Government of Ontario to take concrete action to improve communications in French with a view to expanding services in that language and contributing to the development of the entire Francophone community.

According to Commissioner Boileau, “Eight years after the adoption of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines, many government ministries and agencies continue to breach their obligations by repeatedly failing to publish their communications in French in French-language media. As a result, Ontario’s Francophones have not had full access to government information.

The Communications in French Directive and Guidelines introduced an important and flexible mechanism for including French language services in government communications. Several shortcomings remain, however. The complaints received about Ontario government advertisements in the province’s Francophone media (traditional and digital) made it clear that the existing process was not leading to compliance by the government with the statutory requirements or protocols for preparing and distributing government advertising.

The Commissioner further pointed out that: “Francophone media, including newspapers, television, radio and the Internet, contribute to the vitality and sustainability of the Franco-Ontarian community. They provide Francophone Ontarians with relevant information in their own language. Greater awareness on the part of advertisers and other players in the advertising industry is not only highly desirable, but essential.”

Following an exhaustive analysis of current policies and processes, the Commissioner’s report ended with six recommendations to Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council, and the Minister of Francophone Affairs. The report recommended introducing a new communications in French regulation, reviewing the guidelines, and providing more targeted training. It further recommended the establishment of an advisory committee to provide the Ontario government with better guidance on how to comply with its statutory obligations with respect to the design and distribution of government advertising.

 

Key Facts

  • In 2009, the Commissioner launched an investigation into an English-only flyer distributed during the H1N1 influenza A pandemic by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • This investigation led in 2010 to the adoption of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines, requiring all ministries and other government agencies to consider the needs of Francophone communities in planning their communications with the public. The purpose of these policies was to ensure enhanced planning and oversight for communications intended for Ontario Francophones.
  • The Directive also provides for the Ministry of Francophone Affairs to organize online and face-to-face training for communications staff at government ministries and agencies.
  • According to the experts consulted, in Ontario, government advertising on the web now represents a significant share (28%) of overall advertising by government ministries and agencies. For the 2015-2016 period, digital advertising by the government totalled $11.7 million, almost double the amount spent on government advertising in print media. While this leads to substantial savings for the government, it deprives the Francophone media of revenue crucial to their survival.

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner reports directly to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and its mandate is essentially to ensure that government services are delivered in compliance with the French Language Services Act.

 

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A Directive without Direction: Challenges of Advertising in the Francophone media of Ontario

Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau announce the findings of the investigation into government advertising, which showed that the advertising model currently practised is inadequate to support Francophone media. The report makes it clear that it is now, in 2018, essential for the Government of Ontario to take concrete action to improve communications in French with a view to expanding services in that language and contributing to the development of the entire Francophone community.

You may order free copies of this executive summary or any of our other publications by
contacting our office.

By mail:
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
800 Bay Street, Suite 402
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3A9

By email: flsc-csf@flscontario.ca
Toll free: 1-866-246-5262
Toronto area: 416847-1515
Fax: 416847-1520
TTY (Teletypewriter): 416640-0093

This document is also available in an accessible electronic format (HTML) and as a downloadable
PDF at flscontario.ca, in the “Publications” section.

© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2018

ISBN 978-1-4868-2077-1  (Print)
ISBN 978-1-4868-2079-5 (PDF)
ISBN 978-1-4868-2078-8 (HTML)

Table of contents

  1. SUMMARY
  2. INTRODUCTION
    1. Authority of the Commissioner
    2. Complaints
    3. Role of the media
    4. Definition of government advertising
  3. METHODOLOGY
  4. GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING IN ONTARIO
    1. Steps in developing advertising
  5. RESPONSIBILITIES OF KEY STAKEHOLDERS
    1. Cabinet Office
    2. Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
      1. Advertising Review Board
      2. Ministerial Communications Fund
    3. The Ministry of Francophone Affairs
  6. NORMATIVE FRAMEWORK
    1. The French Language Services Act
    2. Government Advertising Act
    3. The Communications in French Directive
    4. Advertising Content Directive
  7. COMPLAINTS AND ANALYSIS
    1. Examples of complaints received over the years
      1. Metrolinx
      2. LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario)
      3. The Ontario Science Centre
      4. OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation)
    2. Systemic omissions
    3. A new media brief
    4. Training
  8. SOCIETAL DEBATE: FRANCOPHONE COMMUNITY MEDIA IN CANADA ARE AT RISK
    1. Proactive government obligations
      1. Preamble and section 5 of the French Language Services Act
    2. The Ontario government is responsible for inequitable advertising in the Francophone community media
      1. Print media
      2. Francophone community radio stations
      3. Web advertising
    3. Establishment of an advisory committee on Francophone community media
  9. CONCLUSION
  10. APPENDIX A: COMMUNICATIONS IN FRENCH DIRECTIVE
  11. APPENDIX B: COMMUNICATIONS IN FRENCH – GUIDELINES
  12. APPENDIX C: STRATEGIC MEDIA BRIEF (Available in English only)
  13. APPENDIX D: THE STEPS FOR GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING IN ONTARIO

1. SUMMARY

This report from the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario addresses advertising by government ministries and agencies in the province’s Francophone media.

In view of the many complaints about recurring irregularities in advertising by government ministries and agencies in Ontario’s Francophone media, the French Language Services Commissioner decided to conduct an investigation into the level of government compliance with the French Language Services Act1 and the Communications in French Directive in its advertisements.

When he was investigating the distribution of an English-only H1N1 flyer in 20112, the Commissioner was delighted over the adoption of the Communications in French Directive. At the time, he felt that the new Directive and its accompanying Guidelines would provide a regulatory framework that would incorporate French language services into the strategic and operational planning of government ministries and agencies.

Seven years on, many government ministries and agencies continue to breach their obligations under the French Language Services Act and the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines by repeatedly failing to publish their communications in French in the French-language media. As a result, Ontario’s Francophones have not had the same access as Anglophones to government information. These breaches have also had a major impact on the survival of the Francophone media, which are so essential to the vitality of Francophone culture in Ontario.

The systemic failure to comply with the French Language Services Act and the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines have forced the Commissioner to review his position on the effectiveness of the normative framework established at the time the Directive was adopted. It is clear that the proliferation of such breaches is partly the result of the fact that there is no accountability mechanism and no sensitivity to Francophone realities among those involved in developing and disseminating government advertising.

Recommendation 1

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council, and the Minister of Francophone Affairs, that the Communications in French Guidelines be amended to include the following:

  1. an accountability mechanism that would assess the level of compliance with legislative requirements and the extent to which the specific needs of Francophones are taken into account when preparing government communications and advertisements;
  2. communications in French obligations in the Advertising Content Directive; and
  3. communications in French obligations in other directives pertaining to communications in French.

Recommendation 2

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Minister of Francophone Affairs that in the 2018-2019 fiscal year she propose the adoption of a communications in French regulation that includes the additional content from the Communications in French Directive and incorporates by reference the amended Communications in French Guidelines.

Recommendation 3

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council that an annual report on the rate of compliance with the new regulation and the amended guidelines be published annually, beginning in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Recommendation 4

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council that a new media brief model be developed and that it should clearly ensure compliance with a regulatory framework that specifies:

  1. the requirements under the French Language Services Act
  2. the obligations under the new communications in French regulation, as stipulated in Recommendation 3; and
  3. the language requirements of the Advertising Content Directive.

Recommendation 5

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends the following to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council, and the Minister of Francophone Affairs:

  1. On a regular periodic basis, provide employees and heads of communications sections in the public service with training on the requirements of the new communications in French regulation and the amended guidelines.
  2. Provide advertising agencies with training on communications in French to make them more aware of Franco-Ontarian realities, as well as the requirements of the French Language Services Act and the new communications in French regulation.
  3. As of the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, prepare a regular periodic report on the number of government officials and employees of advertising agencies who have taken the training, and evaluate the training provided.

The media in minority-language communities play an essential role in the very survival of these communities. They are responsible for the dissemination of information that contributes to each community’s vitality. For Francophones, they also contribute to identity building. The Francophone media now face significant funding cuts, caused in part by the absence of government advertising. These repeated breaches of the French Language Services Act in government advertising deprive Ontario’s Francophone media of the funds they need to survive.

Recommendation 6

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs, before the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, establish an advisory committee to provide the government, and in particular the Ministry, with guidance on Francophone media:

  1. The committee would be asked to develop a strategy to:
    1. ensure the development and longevity of Francophone media in Ontario;
    2. implement positive, pragmatic and realistic measures, including the establishment of regional Francophone-media support funds for print, community radio and a web presence; and
    3. establish a digital transition support fund.
  2. The committee is to include representatives from the various government ministries and/or agencies, as well as Francophone media stakeholders.

2. INTRODUCTION

From its inception, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner has received numerous complaints about advertising by government ministries and agencies in the Ontario Francophone media.

These complaints are indicative of ongoing concern within the Francophone community regarding the proliferation of unilingual English public-awareness campaigns and advertising by government agencies for the people of Ontario that are not reflected in the French-language media. They point to possible shortcomings in the respect of the French Language Services Act and the application of the Ontario government’s Communications in French Directive and Guidelines.

The Communications in French Directive was adopted by the government’s Management Board and the Treasury Board further to the recommendation from the French Language Services Commissioner following his investigation into the dissemination of an English-only flyer about H1N1 influenza3 in 2009. At the time, the investigation conducted by the Commissioner’s Office showed the poor integration of French language services into the strategic and operational planning of ministries as well as inadequacies in the Communications in French Guidelines. Seven years on, the complaints received by the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner concerning the absence of equivalent advertising in Ontario’s Francophone media indicate a failure to comply with established protocols further to the adoption of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines.

Although some of these complaints were addressed and appear to have been settled on a case-by-case basis, often as a result of the intervention of the Commissioner’s Office, the many complaints received in recent years indicate that the problem has become systemic and that the Commissioner can no longer consider them isolated instances.

2.1 Authority of the Commissioner

Under the French Language Services Act, the Commissioner is responsible for conducting investigations into the extent and quality of compliance with the Act, pursuant to complaints relating to French language services made by any person or on the Commissioner’s own initiative. He is also responsible for preparing investigation reports, including recommendations for improving the provision of French language services and monitoring the progress made by government agencies in providing French language services.4

2.2 Complaints

The Commissioner’s Office received more than 30 complaints about the use of English-only advertising between April 2014 and March 2016. After receiving these complaints about irregularities with respect to advertising by provincial institutions in the Francophone media in Ontario, the French Language Services Commissioner decided to conduct an investigation into the level of government advertising compliance with the French Language Services Act and the Communications in French Directive.

2.3 Role of the media

In societies generally, the normative affirmation of a majority or minority community’s values is heightened by the role and number of agents of socialization, including the media. The media, which truly reflect a linguistic community’s societal values, not only disseminate the inherent values of belonging to a community, but also promote them. The media are places for the production, reproduction and dissemination of a culture.5 Accordingly, their presence is even more important in a minority context because of the role they play in preserving the community’s linguistic and cultural identity:

“Community media play an essential role in the development and growth of official language minority communities. They enable Anglophone and Francophone minorities to see and hear themselves. They provide a means to reach a variety of audiences: Anglophones, Francophones and Francophiles, young and old. In short, these communication tools are the key to reflecting, enhancing and developing the minority language culture.”6

In Ontario, the Francophone media contribute to a stronger identity for Francophone communities, whether by disseminating local French-language cultural products or informative content that gives the communities not only a reflection of themselves, but a voice. The local Francophone media are the drivers of Francophone issues.7

To properly perform their role of reflecting and conveying Franco-Ontarian societal values, the Francophone media need to be able to develop within the overall Ontario media context. As a showcase for minority-language communities, the Franco-Ontarian media, while they may not be in the forefront of the broader Ontario media landscape, nevertheless contribute to the province’s French-speaking communities. Community radio stations and Franco-Ontarian newspapers play an overwhelming role in disseminating information to the community and contribute enormously to its vitality.

In the past, Franco-Ontarian media were the voice of the Francophone community in some of its major battles. In an editorial published on June 22, 1912, only a few days prior to the adoption of Regulation 17,8 Jules Tremblay wrote that the government could take it as a given that the vast majority of French Canadians would not pay taxes unless French were taught as it obviously ought to be.9 The province’s mass media are of course unlikely to be interested in such issues, which are specific to the Francophone community. Indeed, even today, the major media in the province, whether radio, television or newspapers, rarely address issues pertaining to the Francophone community. Even now, although we are no longer dealing with protest newspapers, as was the case in the past, the political climate still demands that certain media respond to the call to battle.10 Indeed, in the late 1990s the newspaper Le Droit publicly took a stand to prevent the Ontario government from closing Ottawa’s Montfort Hospital.

Needless to say, the fourth Industrial Revolution is having an impact on the media as well, including media in minority settings. It has changed everything for newspapers. People now get their information from a wide variety of platforms and social media. It appears to be a difficult transition, as indicated by the many newspaper closings and mergers resulting from declining revenue.

2.4 Definition of government advertising

Advertising, which is often understood to be a tool for the promotion of consumer goods, may also convey positive societal values or warn against dangerous behaviour. A campaign against drinking and driving, or the distribution of information flyers about how to reduce energy consumption, are considered government advertising.

Advertising by the government or by institutions acting on its behalf can inform people about government policy decisions and changes. Government advertising is defined as advertising from services of a local, provincial or federal government pertaining to its policies, practices or programs. However, it differs from “political advertising” and “election advertising.”

In the Ontario context, government advertising is defined by the government as any form of print or written promotional material distributed by a government ministry or organization.11 According to the definition in the provincial government’s Advertising Content Directive,12 government advertising includes every form of advertising published by a government ministry or agency in a newspaper, magazine or billboard, or broadcast on radio or television. It also includes printed material distributed to Ontario households by mail, as well as all print or electronic promotional material.

According to the Ontario government’s Advertising Content Directive, an advertising item disseminated by the provincial government can inform the public of existing or proposed government policies, programs or services. Government advertising can also inform people of their rights and obligations, in addition to encouraging or discouraging certain specific types of social behaviour in the public interest. From this standpoint, government advertising is an indispensable cog in the machinery that transmits government information to Ontarians.

3. METHODOLOGY

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner’s investigation into services in French concerns advertising by Ontario government ministries and agencies in the Francophone media throughout Ontario, within the limits of its mandate.

The purpose of the investigation is to determine how and with what degree of effectiveness the Communications in French Directive has been incorporated into the process of developing, processing and disseminating advertising. To meet these objectives, the Commissioner’s Office completed the following:

  • Analysis of complaints received by the Office the French Language Services Commissioner
  • Study and analysis of relevant documentation, including:
    • Government Advertising Act, 2004
    • Communications in French Directive and Guidelines (2010)
    • Advertising Content Directive (2006)
    • Report of the Auditor General of Ontario, “Government Advertising Review” (2015)
    • Study of the media consumption habits of Franco-Ontarians (2012), Office of Francophone Affairs
  • Meetings, consultations and interviews

The Commissioner’s Office met and questioned several persons who had complained about the absence of a French version of government public-awareness campaign material or about English-only government advertising.

To properly understand the challenges faced by the province’s Francophone media, the team met representatives from six Francophone media and two Francophone media associations (one in Ontario and one national Francophone media association). The team also called upon the expertise of media specialists and observers, and advertising experts.

In accordance with the powers conferred on the French Language Services Commissioner under Section 12.4 of the French Language Services Act, the Commissioner’s Office collected information from the ministries being investigated.

The Commissioner’s Office staff met representatives of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, accompanied by representatives of the Advertising Review Board. The staff also held discussions with representatives of the Cabinet Office. All of the representatives consulted then replied in writing to requests for clarification and provided documents relevant to the investigation.

It is important to stress that the Commissioner’s Office had the full and wholehearted cooperation of these ministries in question throughout the process.

A meeting was also arranged with representatives of the Ministry of Francophone Affairs (formerly the Office of Francophone Affairs).

4. GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING IN ONTARIO

In spite of declining expenditures for the past 10 years,13 the government’s advertising budget remains significant in Ontario. Approximately $44 million was allocated to advertising by the provincial government in 2016.14

Expenditures on this scale are indicative of the importance assigned to government advertising in the provincial government’s strategy to keep Ontarians properly informed.

4.1 Steps in developing advertising

Once a government ministry or agency has established the need to inform the public, and hence to launch an advertising campaign, the communications branch of the ministry or agency in question is tasked with coordinating the preparation and dissemination of the government advertisement15.

The communications branch then completes the Strategic Media Brief form,16 and forwards it to Pattison-Horswell-Durden (PHD), the strategic-marketing planning agency of record hired by the provincial government to provide strategic advice to the communications branch.

The brief sent to PHD includes a section in which the communications branch must state the French-language requirements. The communications branch must therefore ensure that the suggested campaign complies with the requirements of the French Language Services Act. The Advertising Review Board then sends a project brief to the creative advertising agency to which the campaign will be awarded.

According to information provided by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, to which the Advertising Review Board reports, the creative advertising agency is made aware of the design requirements for French-language advertising when these have been determined, because these requirements are included in the media brief. Senior officials of the Board have confirmed that the ability of advertising agencies to develop French language services is among the selection criteria in all the invitations to tender.17

Once the advertisement has been designed, the government ministry or agency communications branch checks that all instructions in the media brief have been followed prior to releasing the advertisement to the media.18

5. RESPONSIBILITIES OF KEY STAKEHOLDERS

5.1 Cabinet Office

Ontario’s Cabinet Office provides advisory and analysis services to the Office of the Premier. It administers the government’s decision-making process and works with the ministries to coordinate policies and communications and the intergovernmental strategy.

The Cabinet Office’s Communications Division works with the Office of the Premier and the ministries to strategically communicate the government’s priorities, initiatives and programs. The Division has traditionally provided full communications services to the Premier and the Premier’s Office, including strategic planning, writing, digital communications, media monitoring, issues management, marketing and correspondence.19

The Cabinet Office plays an essential role in the ministries’ understanding of the Communications in French Directive. It is the ministry responsible for organizing and providing training and professional development to the communications sector within Ontario’s public service. The Cabinet Office works with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs to review and recommend to the Management Board all amendments, updates or exemptions to the Communications in French Directive. Part of its collaborative work with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs involves drafting documents related to the Directive and ensuring that the ministries are aware of any amendments, updates or exemptions to it.

5.2 Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is responsible for providing advice on any amendments, updates or exemptions to the Communications in French Directive. It is the Ministry to which the Advertising Review Board reports.

5.2.1 Advertising Review Board

The Advertising Review Board acts as an intermediary between the provincial government and the advertising and communications sectors. It is a regulatory agency that reports to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The Board is designated as a mandatory common service for the provision of provincial government advertising and communication services. Its role is therefore to ensure that the services are provided to government ministries and agencies in an equitable, open, transparent and accessible manner by qualified suppliers.

The Board has the authority to sign agreements with advertising and creative communication services suppliers through open, competitive processes, including contracts with qualified media-planning and buying agencies. It is also responsible for monitoring and producing reports on compliance with relevant government policies and Management Board directives.20

5.2.2 Ministerial Communications Fund

The Board administers the Ministerial Communications Fund,21 whose purpose is to encourage government advertising campaigns in a variety of Indigenous and ethnic media. The fund can also be used to introduce ministerial initiatives. The ministries need to submit a grant application to the Board for funds under this program. The Board receives and approves four to six applications each year.22

5.3 The Ministry of Francophone Affairs

The mandate of the Ministry of Francophone Affairs is to ensure that the Francophone community is recognized and celebrated for its culture and contributions, and that its needs are taken into account and incorporated into the provincial government’s plans and strategies.

Accordingly, the Ministry works with the Cabinet Office to review and recommend any amendments, updates or exemptions to the Communications in French Directive. The Ministry, in concert with the Cabinet Office, provides training and advice, as necessary, to government ministries and agencies concerning the implementation of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines.

The Ministry also works with the Cabinet Office to disseminate information on updates or amendments to the Directive or related documents.

6. NORMATIVE FRAMEWORK

6.1 The French Language Services Act

The French Language Services Act, a quasi-constitutional statute which came into force in 1989, states that everyone is entitled to use French to communicate with and receive services from any head or central office of a government agency and from offices located in designated areas.23

In this matter, the provincial government showed that it was ahead of the curve in a number of its initiatives and accomplishments over the past few years, including the passage, following an investigation by the Commissioner’s Office,24 of the Communications in French Directive.

As the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner pointed out in its investigation report regarding an English-only flyer about H1N1 influenza in Ontario homes, information in government communications must be released in both languages at the same time, as provided in the Ontario government’s Communications in French Directive.25

6.2 Government Advertising Act

Subsection 1.1(2) of the Government Advertising Act26 lists the various reasons for using advertising to communicate with the public:

  1. informing the public about existing, new or proposed government programs, plans, services or policies, including fiscal policies, such as policies respecting pensions or taxes;
  2. informing the public about changes or proposed changes to existing government programs, plans, services or policies;
  3. informing the public about of the goals, objectives, expected outcomes, or results of, or rationale for, a matter referred to in clause a) or b);
  4. informing the public of their rights and responsibilities under the law;
  5. encouraging or discouraging specific social behaviour, in the public interest;
  6. promoting Ontario or any part of Ontario as a good place to live, work, invest, study or visit;
  7. promoting any economic activity or sector of Ontario’s economy or the government’s plans to support that economic activity or sector; and
  8. informing the public about Ontario’s relationships with other Canadian governments, including promoting Ontario’s interests in relation to those governments.

Under the Government Advertising Act, the Auditor General is entitled to examine and approve government advertisements ahead of time, except for advertising via social media, to ensure they meet the standards and are non-partisan.

The Act is applicable to all paid advertising that a ministry or agency intends to disseminate, whether on radio or television, or in a cinema, newspapers or magazines. It also applies to advertising content on billboards or in printed matter distributed to Ontario homes or displayed digitally.

It is important to point out that public notices, announcements about urgent health matters or public safety, offers of employment and invitations to tender are not covered by the Government Advertising Act.

6.3 The Communications in French Directive

On May 13, 2010, following the Commissioner’s decision to investigate the English-only H1N1 flyer, the government’s Management Board and the Treasury Board adopted a mandatory directive for all ministries and classified agencies with respect to communications in French. The clear guidelines that followed the Directive represented a genuine advance with respect to the Government of Ontario’s communications in French.27

The guidelines on communications in French that had previously been developed by the Ministry of Francophone Affairs were not mandatory, and ministries could get around them on economic grounds or marketing imperatives.

The Commissioner therefore recommended in his Investigation Report Regarding an English-Only H1N1 Flyer that the Management Board and Treasury Board adopt a directive that would make communications in French guidelines, policies and procedures mandatory for all ministries and classified agencies. The recommendation was acted upon.

Not only did the Directive provide very specific French-language communication obligations, but it also underscored the need to properly understand the target Francophone population and its specific needs, from the planning stage onward. The goal was clearly to avoid reliving a disastrous episode like the English-only H1N1 influenza flyer sent to all homes in the province, and for which, the Premier at the time, the Honourable Dalton McGuinty, publicly apologized.

According to the Commissioner, the words used in the directive were not chosen haphazardly. The principles referred to the “Francophone community,” which assumes an exercise that goes well beyond straightforward translation. The concept of community is very important and implies that it is necessary to be equipped with communications tools that will enable the Francophone community, and not only individuals, to develop and prosper, in accordance with the legislative intent stipulated in the preamble to the French Language Services Act.

The Directive applies to all Ontario ministries and classified agencies with respect to their communication plans and strategies for clients of Ontario’s public service.

Two important factors need to be taken into consideration in analyzing the application and scope of the Communications in French Directive. First, the Directive is not limited to ministries: it applies to all classified agencies. Second, in all communication plans, due regard must be given to the distinctive features of the Francophone community. It is therefore no longer a matter of just hastily translating documents into French at the very end of the process, because it is now a requirement to begin at the planning stage.

The Directive reminds ministries and classified agencies of the requirements to comply with the French Language Services Act and to actively offer services in French to the Francophone community.

6.4 Advertising Content Directive

The aim of this Directive is for all government ministries and organizations to develop equitable and objective advertising campaigns while complying with the requirements of the Government Advertising Act and established policies.

The Directive applies to all government ministries and agencies, as established in the September 1997 Accountability Directive.

It applies to all advertising content that a ministry or agency intends to publish in a newspaper or magazine, on a billboard, or in radio or television advertisements. It is also applicable to advertising content distributed to Ontario homes in mass mailings, or any other print or electronic material.

According to the principles set out in the Directive, government advertising must be fair and equitable. Government ministries and agencies can use advertising as an effective means of reaching out to Ontarians to inform them of government policies and programs or to encourage or discourage certain types of social behaviour. Still in accordance with these principles, government advertising must be accessible to all Ontarians

The Directive clearly establishes that all advertising by a Government of Ontario ministry or agency must comply with the obligations of the French Language Services Act and the Communications in French Directive,28 and stated as one of the Directive’s requirements.

The Directive further makes deputy ministers and program managers accountable to their minister, to the Management Board of Cabinet and to their respective branches in matters pertaining to the French Language Services Act.

7. COMPLAINTS AND ANALYSIS

7.1 Examples of complaints received over the years

The Commissioner’s Office has received a number of complaints about English-only government advertisements published in English language media that deprive Francophone Ontarians of access to the information in question in their language. The following cases illustrate the complaints received by the Commissioner’s Office over the years, together with measures and commitments made by government authorities to address these situations reported by the public.

7.1.1 Metrolinx

In 2012, the Commissioner’s Office received a complaint about advertisements for GO Transit that were placed only in Toronto area English newspapers. The Ministry of Transportation replied tersely to the Commissioner’s team that Metrolinx had been reminded of its obligation to advertise in both languages in compliance with the Communications in French Directive.

Three years later the Commissioner’s team received a complaint to the effect that Metrolinx had, for a number of months, been advertising in the Toronto area English language dailies The Toronto Star and Metro News. Further to an investigation, the Ministry of Transportation promised that future Metrolinx marketing campaigns would be of comparable quality in English and French, and advertised in the French-language media.

The fact that the same agency relapsed and continued to publish English-only advertisements in the same area after being called to order by its line ministry shows that there is no proper accountability mechanism to deal with advertising responsibilities and obligations.

7.1.2 LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario)

In 2014, a complaint was received about three large English-only LCBO billboards placed side-by-side in a Toronto subway station. Further to an investigation, the Ministry of Finance, to which the LCBO reports, explained this breach by saying that the normative framework for communication in French merely required that public information be available in English and French at the same time. The Ministry felt that it had complied with the framework by including the following French-language message for the public in its English language ads in Toronto area daily newspapers: “Le contenu de cette publication est offert en français sur notre site Web.”

Although the Office of the Commissioner acknowledges that the organization’s referral to the website for access to such advertisements in French may constitute an additional way of reaching the Francophone public, it breached the underlying principle according to which the French Language Services Act guarantees Francophones the right to receive services in French equivalent to those available in English, at the same time and of the same quality. While these advertisements were available in both languages on the website, they were posted only in English in newspapers and a subway station in the Toronto area. This demonstrated that certain ministries had misunderstood the concept of simultaneous availability of messages for the public.

Furthermore, the Ministry pointed out that there were no French language daily newspapers in the Toronto area in which the LCBO could have placed advertisements in French, adding that the government agency had begun to advertise regularly in Le Droit. Needless to say, the Commissioner’s Office can only encourage initiatives like these, which attempt to reach out to the Francophone public. However, it would have been enough to simply apply the guidelines from the current Communications in French Directive, which clearly state that: “Ministries must develop the reflex to include considerations specific to the Francophone population in their communication plans and strategies.”29 For distribution/media placement in the Francophone media, “The particularities and deadlines of French publications must be taken into account (generally not published daily).”30 In other words, while it is true that there are no French-language dailies in the Toronto area, there are certainly, as there are virtually everywhere in Ontario, French-language weekly newspapers.

It is worth noting that, in that same year, the Commissioner’s Office was given the identical response in connection with a complaint about a similar advertising violation.

7.1.3 The Ontario Science Centre

In 2014, the Commissioner’s Office received a complaint about an Ontario Science Centre advertisement in a major English-language daily newspaper. The person making the complaint contacted the planning agency hired by the province to provide strategic marketing advice to communication services. The agency candidly replied that unlike ministries, which were required to comply with the obligations under the French Language Services Act, other government agencies were not required to do so.

The investigation of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport conducted by the Commissioner’s Office concluded that the Science Centre had taken a number of steps to comply with its obligations under the French Language Services Act. However, the agency admitted that it had been wrong about this advertising campaign and corrected the shortcomings in various ways, including by placing messages in two French-language weekly newspapers. The government agency promised to continue to serve the Francophone community by drawing upon regular budgets for advertising in the French-language media.

Nevertheless, this new case once again illustrates the fact that not everyone involved in the advertising process, whether in the government or working for its providers, is aware of the responsibilities and obligations under the French Language Services Act, which guarantees Francophone Ontarians French-language government communications and services equivalent to those in English, at the same time and of the same quality.

7.1.4 OLG

In 2013, the Office of the Commissioner received a complaint about an English-only advertisement for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), in an English language daily newspaper. The information gathered for this case clearly indicated that the marketing-strategy planning agency hired by the government had misunderstood the obligations set out in the French Language Services Act. According to the agency, the OLG, unlike ministries, is not subject to the Act and had no obligation to include French in the advertisement. The decision in question was made by the agency that hired the company.

In its investigation, the Ministry of Finance informed the Commissioner’s Office that the OLG was in the process of developing a new framework, with policies and procedures regarding services in French that would lead to the development of compliance and training tools. Advertisements in the French-language media would be included in these new policies.

Despite the OLG’s commitment to acquire tools that would allow it to comply better with the French Language Services Act and the Communications in French Directive, the Commissioner’s Office continued to receive complaints about the OLG. In 2016, the Office of the Commissioner received complaints about English-only advertising in a Toronto Transportation Commission subway car and the lack of equivalent French-language gaming advertisements in Francophone media.

7.2 Systemic omissions

Following the publication of the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation report on the distribution of the English-only H1N1 influenza flyer, the Commissioner commended the introduction of a regulatory framework that would require French language services in government communications, and in the preparation and distribution of government advertising.

Unfortunately, the continued influx of complaints about the absence of French-language versions of various government advertisements and communications constitutes a breach of the French Language Services Act, showing that the framework is not always observed within the public service and that there is no accountability mechanism.

Each time a government ministry or agency fails to comply with the measures set out in the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines, there is a contravention of the provisions of the French Language Services Act. The many complaints reporting such violations demonstrate the systemic nature of this practice.

The mandatory requirements were clearly stated in the Communications in French Directive when it was adopted:

All ministries and classified agencies are required:

  1. to seek out improvements in how they communicate with Francophones.
  2. to adhere to all relevant processes and legislative requirements, notably the French Language Services Act, in the active offer and delivery of French-language services to Ontario’s Francophone community.
  3. to consider the Francophone community’s specific needs when developing strategic communication plans and incorporate appropriate approaches into the communications activities to reach Francophone audiences effectively.31

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner considers any failure to prepare advertisements in French to be a violation of the mandatory requirements of the Communications in French Directive and the French Language Services Act. Every such omission fails to improve the manner in which the government communicates with Francophones and constitutes a breach of the statutory requirements, including the French Language Services Act. Furthermore, every breach is indicative of disregard for the specific needs of the Francophone community when strategic communications plans are being drawn up and a lack of a targeted approach for communicating with Francophones.

The Commissioner is concerned about this situation given his high expectations after the Communications in French Directive was adopted following his investigation report “From communication crash to communication coup.” It was thought at the time that the adoption of a new mandatory directive would enhance the integration of French language services into the strategic and operational planning of government ministries and agencies.

Sadly, seven years later, the integration of French language services is clearly not universal. In fact, the proliferation of complaints received by the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner demonstrates that the problem is systemic and that none of the cases reported can be treated as isolated instances. The complaints drawn to the attention of the Commissioner show that there is no accountability mechanism for observing the mandatory requirements stated in the Communications in French Directive. Since the adoption of this Directive, there have been numerous instances of government ministries or agencies failing repeatedly to meet these mandatory requirements.

Given that the government has established a framework to guarantee the inclusion of French language services in the preparation and distribution of government advertising through the adoption of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines;

Whereas some government ministries and agencies are not complying with their obligations as stated in the Directive and Guidelines;

Whereas the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines have little normative force;

Recommendation 1

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council, and the Minister of Francophone Affairs, that the Communications in French Guidelines be amended to include the following:

  • an accountability mechanism that would assess the level of compliance with legislative requirements and the extent to which the specific needs of Francophones are taken into account when preparing government communications and advertisements;
  • communications in French obligations in the Advertising Content Directive;
  • communications in French obligations in other directives pertaining to communications in French.

The Communications in French Directive states the major principles, roles and responsibilities for communicating in French with external clients of Ontario’s public service. The Communications in French Guidelines were designed to facilitate compliance with the mandatory requirements, while remaining more flexible. Their intent was to make it possible to identify the most effective and consistent practices for reaching out to Francophones.

Unlike the Directive itself, the Guidelines are not mandatory. They are there to provide guidance to “communicators.” The Commissioner had previously mentioned this state of affairs in his investigation report, “From communication crash to communication coup,” in which he said he was convinced that when the mandatory directive was adopted, the intent of the Management Board and Treasury Board had been to make the guidelines mandatory as well.

It is now clear that the absence of any accountability mechanism is what allows the many breaches of the mandatory requirements in the Directive. The time has therefore come to develop a new normative framework that would reduce the number of breaches by government ministries and agencies. For these reasons, the Commissioner recommends to the Minister of Francophone Affairs that a communications in French regulation which incorporates the Guidelines by reference be adopted.32

Recommendation 2

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Minister of Francophone Affairs that in the 2018-2019 fiscal year she propose the adoption of a communications in French regulation that includes the additional content from the Communications in French Directive and incorporates by reference the amended Communications in French Guidelines.

Recommendation 3

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council that an annual report on the rate of compliance with the new regulation and the amended guidelines be published annually, beginning in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

7.3 A new media brief

The media brief provides guidance to advertising agencies to ensure that the advertisements they develop comply with the requirements and limitations set by the communications branch of the government ministry or agency. The communications branch sets out the requirements and needs stipulated in the French Language Services Act in the brief.

This is how the requirements are transmitted to the marketing-planning and creative advertising agencies, both of which are essential in the design of government advertisements.33 They are the agencies that create the message to be transmitted to the public. Unless they are made aware of the Francophone realities in Ontario and the obligations under the French Language Services Act, the message transmitted may well prove to be unsuitable for Ontario Francophones.

The statutory obligations under the French Language Services Act and the Communications in French Directive are not currently incorporated into the media brief. The communications branch must therefore specify the requirements as they complete the brief. The full integration of French language services into the very process of creating government advertisements requires the involvement of all stakeholders in the preparation of these ads. The Commissioner therefore believes that the advertising agencies must also be accountable for incorporating French language services into the creative process itself. This means that the statutory obligations for the provision of French language services must be built into the media brief and the brief would then provide guidance regarding what measures to take to comply with these obligations and the normative framework.

Recommendation 4

Whereas the inclusion of French language services can only be accomplished with the involvement of all stakeholders in the process of developing advertisements;

Whereas the media brief is the document by means of which communications branches transmit their instructions to the advertising planning and creative agencies;

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council that a new media brief model be developed and that it should clearly ensure compliance with a regulatory framework that specifies:

  1. the requirements under the French Language Services Act;
  2. the obligations under the new communications in French regulation, as stipulated in recommendation 3; and
  3. the language requirements of the Advertising Content Directive.

7.4 Training

One of the first stages in the analysis consisted of evaluating the stakeholders’ understanding of the normative framework with respect to the requirements of producing French-language versions of government advertisements. This meant determining whether training34 for public service employees on the content and requirements of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines had been provided.

The Cabinet Office ensures that it is mandatory for every employee of a branch of the public service to take an online training course prepared by the Ministry of Francophone Affairs (MFA). However, in its response to questions about the subject, the Cabinet Office said that it had worked with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs on an initial series of training sessions in 2011, and that these had familiarized 107 public service officials with the requirements of the Directive. In 2014, 726 communications employees had received a half-hour of online training on the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines.

Although some training of this kind has been given, the frequency with which it is given is not sufficient to ensure the full integration of French language services when planning communication strategies for government ministries and agencies. Staff turnover within the public service requires more frequent and sustained training. For example, in the course of the investigation, one official who had received training in 2011 on the requirements of the Communications in French Directive said he could no longer recall having taken this training five years later.

The lack of periodic training for employees and officials involved in the government advertising process leads to misunderstanding and a lack of awareness of the requirements for preparing French-language versions of government advertisements. Employees cannot implement measures of which they are unaware.

In his investigation of the English-only flyer distributed during the H1N1 influenza A pandemic information and prevention campaign, the Commissioner pointed out that the Communications in French Guidelines that had been developed by the Office of Francophone Affairs were superficial, and amounted to a wish rather than an obligation.35 Seven years on, the situation had clearly not improved very much. Although the adoption of the Communications in French Directive was a major step forward at the time, the absence of an accountability mechanism significantly reduced its impact.

The ministries investigated confirmed that the advertising agencies selected by the provincial government were thoroughly familiar with “Canadian bilingualism” and that their international reputation gave them unique expertise. However, the agencies did not receive the training on the Communications in French directive provided within the Ontario public service, even though they were working for government ministries and agencies and played a leading role in the implementation of the government’s communications strategy. Just because the agencies selected by the provincial government were familiar with Canadian bilingualism did nothing to guarantee that they were properly informed about Francophone realities in Ontario or that they were sensitive to them.

Are the requirements included in the media briefs enough to give them a knowledge of the Franco-Ontarian situation? The answers given by some ministries in response to complaints forwarded to them by the Commissioner’s Office tended to show that the linguistic requirements as transmitted to the advertising agencies were insufficient. Advertising agencies should be given some training or, at least, made aware of Franco-Ontarian realities so that they can develop effective strategies to reach out to Francophones in the province. A mere translation cannot be considered an adequate mechanism for properly reaching out to Francophone Ontarians. The preparation of localized versions applicable to the circumstances of the province’s Francophones would enable the provincial government to achieve its goals by communicating effectively with the public and preserving the cultural heritage of the Francophone population, as prescribed in the French Language Services Act.

Recommendation 5

Given the wording of the preamble to the French Language Services Act, which states that the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations;

Whereas the Communications in French Directive requires that the specific needs of the Francophone community during the communications-planning process be considered and incorporated to effectively reach out to Francophones in the implementation process;

Whereas advertising agencies have a key role to play in planning the government of Ontario’s marketing strategy;

Whereas the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Francophone Affairs have organized training for public service employees on the content and requirements of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines;

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends the following to the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council, and the Minister of Francophone Affairs:

  1. On a regular periodic basis, provide employees and heads of communications sections in the public service with training on the requirements of the new amended Communications in French Regulation and Guidelines.
  2. Provide advertising agencies with training on communications in French to make them more aware of Franco-Ontarian realities, as well as the requirements of the French language Services Act and the new communications in French regulation.
  3. As of the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, prepare a regular periodic report on the number of government officials and employees of advertising agencies who took the training, and evaluate the training provided.

8. SOCIETAL DEBATE: FRANCOPHONE COMMUNITY MEDIA IN CANADA ARE AT RISK

The issue surrounding government advertising in official-language minority communities goes well beyond the complaints received, the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation, and even the government’s obligation to communicate in French under section 5 of the French Language Services Act. The media in these communities are facing a significant decline in revenue, causing many to disappear or to teeter on the edge.36 As the complaints mentioned in this report show, numerous ministries and agencies omitted to publish ads in Francophone media, which denied them an important source of funds. There are many causes to the Francophone media’s precarious situation, but one of them is undoubtedly the non-compliance with the French Language Services Act and the Directive. This societal debate is a hot-button issue in Canada.37

There is no doubt about the fact that the media in official-language minority communities are essential to the very survival of these communities. The Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape report emphasized that: “The media serving official-language minority communities… support the development and vitality of minority language communities and help to bring them out of isolation. Governments also use this branch of the media to communicate with the public in both official languages.”38 They, in fact, are the custodians in charge of disseminating the information that underpins the community’s vitality. For Francophones, they represent an identity-building tool, as Statistics Canada discovered:

“[Translation] Research has shown that the use of French-language media is closely tied to Francophone identity and the desire to be part of the Francophone community […]. These results are not proof of a cause-and-effect relationship. It is possible that French-language media use contributes to Francophone identity building, but it is also likely that people who already have a strong Francophone identity choose French-language media more often than people with a weaker Francophone identity. We believe that this is in fact a two-way relationship – in other words, that the use of French-language minority media is both a cause and an effect of Francophone identity.”39

The Francophone media promote the cultural vitality and outreach of Ontario-Francophone activities and issues. This Francophone presence, which has a 400-year history, is something the Ontario government recently celebrated. For Ontarians who choose to live their lives in the French language, the Francophone media are essential to their development. It is these media that give them access to information about the French language services available from the public and private sectors. Ontario-Francophone media are also the only source of information on issues affecting Francophone communities in the province.

Like educational institutions,40 community centres, public municipal postings41 or even healthcare institutions,42 the presence and vitality of the Francophone media boost the development and protection of the identity of Ontario’s Francophone communities.43 They bring together Francophone readers and audiences, thereby strengthening Franco-Ontarian and community identity, and bringing Francophone issues to the forefront. Conversely, those who have been assimilated by the attraction of the majority language contribute to the gradual disintegration of an already fragile minority community.44

The mass media do not give Francophones access to information typical of their identity. These media do not address issues of importance to Ontario’s Francophones. Thus, issues like education, early childhood and health services in French are rarely discussed in Ontario’s mass media. If people in these communities want to know what is going on in their community, the only sources of useful information are the local or community media. It is not by reading the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail or even Lapresse.ca that a resident of Kapuskasing will learn about regional initiatives and activities.

8.1. Proactive government obligations

8.1.1 Preamble and section 5 of the French Language Services Act

The Preamble of the French Language Services Act confirms that:

Whereas the French language is an historic and honoured language in Ontario and recognized by the Constitution as an official language in Canada; and whereas in Ontario the French language is recognized as an official language in the courts and in education; and whereas the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations; and whereas it is desirable to guarantee the use of the French language in institutions of the Legislature and the Government of Ontario, as provided in this Act … 45

In other words, the French Language Services Act crystallizes the government’s interest in taking steps to protect the language and culture of Francophones for future generations.46 The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner believes that section 5 of the French Language Services Act constitutes an obligation for the government to take concrete action if it is to meet its commitment in the Preamble. Both the letter and spirit of the French Language Services Act need to be taken into consideration by the communications branches of government ministries and agencies, as well as by advertising agencies when they are working on provincial government advertising campaigns. Providing information to Francophone Ontarians in their own language, and supporting Francophone media, must be considered a duty within the meaning of the French Language Services Act.

8.2 The Ontario government is responsible for inequitable advertising in the Francophone community media

8.2.1 Print media

It is a constant pattern across Canada: overall, the media have seen a strong decline in advertising revenue over the past decade. The print media have been hardest hit. Media experts consulted for this investigation found that the media in general and the Francophone media in particular, are currently undergoing a difficult and critical period because of reduced spending by advertisers.

While reports about job losses in the media make the front pages of the major national newspapers, there is little in the media about the impact of lost advertising revenue on small regional newspapers, including their threatened disappearance.

The decline in government advertising in minority Francophone media has become a major issue for Francophone newspapers. Ontario Francophone newspapers, which also saw a definite decline in government advertising, as indicated by the complaints discussed in this investigation, are no exception. They feel that government ministries and agencies have frequently forgotten about the Francophone media in their advertising strategies. They point out that advertisements in the Anglophone media often do not appear in the Francophone media.47

Francophone media representatives also believe that some officials are insensitive to Francophone realities and to the need to reach out to the Franco-Ontarian population via Ontario’s Francophone media. A number of them have told the Commissioner’s Office that they had discussed the matter with the provincial government’s mandated agencies in attempts to understand why they were not included as part of the media deployment of government advertising campaigns. They allege that they were told repeatedly that the Francophone media should conduct readership surveys; however, none of them has the funds required to pay for surveys of this kind.

8.2.2 Francophone community radio stations

Ontario’s community radio stations have long had to deal with financial problems. In 1998, a study commissioned by the provincial government acknowledged that the problem for community radio stations was the absence of consistent integrated policies and planning at both the federal and provincial levels.48

When the provincial government withdrew financial assistance for community radio ($25,000/year) in 1995, it made their already precarious financial circumstances worse. The Commissioner’s Office had already pointed this out in its study of Francophone community radio stations in Ontario.49 in this report, the Commissioner had recommended that the government develop a new study to paint an accurate picture of the situation of Ontario’s French-language community radio stations and that the study also propose concrete, permanent solutions to meet the specific needs of Francophones in the area of community radio.

The circumstances for Francophone radio stations are even more precarious, as they are required, like most other media, to supply Numeris statistical data at the request of advertising agencies. However, Francophone radio stations do not have enough revenue from the sale of advertising, unlike most majority-language radio stations, to pay for Numeris services.

Indeed, Francophone community radio stations draw their revenue primarily from the sale of advertising and from their own fundraising campaigns. This means that their financial health depends largely on the economic status of their markets as well as the generosity of listeners who are asked to make contributions via radiothons and other fundraising events.50

Ontario’s Francophone community radio stations believe they are at risk owing to financial imperatives caused by increases in their administrative fees and operations at a time when their revenue is flat or declining.

It is true that the Community Radio Ontario program (CRO)51 was eliminated in 1995. However, the province still has the Corporate Communications Fund, which funds government advertising for Indigenous and cultural communities. This budget provides financial assistance to support ministries in their advertising campaigns in Ontario’s Indigenous and cultural media. There is no comparable initiative for the Francophone media.

8.2.3 Web advertising

Several representatives of the Francophone media interviewed during his investigation expressed their concerns over the increase in government advertising on the web.

According to the experts consulted, in Ontario, government advertising on the web now represents a significant share (28%) of overall advertising by government ministries and agencies. For the 2015-2016 period, digital advertising by the government totalled $11.7 million, almost double the amount spent on government advertising in print media.52 This new set of circumstances is part of the provincial government’s comprehensive digital policy, which is to make the most of the digital highway to reach as many people as possible, a trend that is also evident in federal government advertising, as the Commissioner’s Office was able to determine when it studied the matter.53

The vast majority of government advertisements found on Francophone media websites are placed by search engine marketing services like Google Adwords. These are automated systems that use algorithms that can reach users based on the chosen audience’s behaviour. Advertisers use keywords to filter the web and advertisements appear alongside relevant content in a way that better targets potential consumers.54

With this type of advertising, there are no contracts between the medium and the government ministry or agency that provides financial compensation to the medium. The government agency deals directly with the marketing service, which, in turn, pays a dividend to the medium. The advertisements are therefore based on visits to the medium’s website.

According to data shared by the communications branch of the Cabinet Office, four per cent of government francophone advertising purchases in 2016-2017 represented advertising via Google’s search engine, while 35 per cent of advertising purchases were made via digital banners and advertising on social networks. It is important to note that advertising via social networks is also based on algorithms and does not represent advertising placed directly in a francophone medium.

These kinds of advertisements generate significant savings for the government, but deprive media like the Francophone media of revenue that is crucial to their survival — advertising revenue that they might have been able to use to enhance their digital content. In its white paper, “Les médias francophones en Ontario,” the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) recognized how important it was for the Francophone media to improve their digital content, and noted that if direct government advertising were to return to previous levels, the costs involved in maintaining high quality digital content could be covered in the medium term.55

Several experts who were consulted said that most Francophone media definitely had to find innovative solutions to make their digital content more attractive to the general public. This modernization of digital content may well prove to be a major challenge for the Francophone media in areas with limited or no access at all to high-speed Internet services.

When it comes to the Francophone media, the government needs to factor in the demographic realities of the community. The obvious question is relatively simple. Should we advertise in French to meet the requirements of the French Language Services Act or should we mainly advertise in French in an effort to reach out to people where they live? For the Commissioner, there can be no doubt that an interpretation of the letter and spirit of the Act demands that government and government agencies advertise at the local level where Francophones live. For this minority, whose cultural, economic and social vitality depend on local media for their transmission, a different strategy is required. As mentioned earlier, the mass media of the linguistic majority only very infrequently mention Francophone community or cultural events. This is also true for Francophone websites like Lapresse.ca, where advertisements in French can be very useful, but are inadequate to properly reach out to Francophones in their own communities. It therefore makes sense for government ministries and agencies to target the Francophone media if they wish to reach Ontario Francophones effectively.

8.3 Establishment of an advisory committee on Francophone community media

In the course of this investigation, several experts interviewed by the Commissioner’s Office confirmed that it is essential for the government and the media in minority-language communities to work together to secure their future.56 This approach is applicable in Ontario. The government needs the Francophone media to properly reach out to Francophone Ontarians and achieve the government’s statutory objectives. The media need a productive structure that would be conducive to their development.

In his study of community radio stations, the Commissioner had already mentioned that a partnership between the provincial government and the Francophone media would be appropriate and desirable.57

Needless to say, the matter of advertising and the future of the Francophone media is complex. Not all of the solutions can focus on increased public funding to revive and support media that are at risk or have disappeared — what the government should do instead is rethink its approach. A restructuring of the government’s position and the adoption of new public policies with respect to such an important issue also require, among other things, consultation and input from specialists.

Recommendation 6

Given the wording of the preamble to the French Language Services Act, which states that the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations;

Whereas the Francophone media contribute to identity building in Francophone communities, whether by disseminating local French-language cultural products, or content and information;

Whereas the Francophone media are an important tool for the development of the Francophone community and contribute to the cultural enrichment of Ontario;

Whereas the provincial government needs the Francophone media to reach out effectively to its Francophone population;

Whereas there is a Corporate Communications Fund administered by the Advertising Review Board, whose mandate is to fund advertising campaigns in the ethnic and Indigenous media;

The French Language Services Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs, before the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, establish an advisory committee to provide the government, and in particular the Ministry, with guidance on the Francophone media:

  1. The committee would be asked to develop a strategy to:
    1. ensure the development and contribute to the longevity of the Francophone media in Ontario;
    2. implement positive, pragmatic and realistic measures, including the establishment of regional Francophone-media support funds for print, community radio and a web presence; and
    3. establish a digital-transition support fund.
  2. The committee is to include representatives from the various government ministries and/or agencies, as well as Francophone media stakeholders.

9. CONCLUSION

When the investigation report on the distribution of the English-only H1N1 virus was being published, the Commissioner applauded the government on its leadership, and in particular on its development of the Communications in French Directive and Guidelines. The requirements for the inclusion of French language services in government communications were also embedded in other mechanisms and directives like the Advertising Content Directive. Since then, the number of complaints with respect to communications has declined, particularly for government organization websites, but the Commissioner’s Office continues to receive complaints about English-only advertising, which can only mean that the established framework is not being complied with.

Government ministries and agencies have a responsibility to the Francophone community to distribute government advertising systematically via the Francophone media. Unfortunately, the regular complaints brought to the attention of the Commissioner’s Office clearly indicate that certain government ministries and agencies are misinterpreting their linguistic obligations. The vast majority of complaints received by the Commissioner’s Office pertain to advertisements or messages in the majority-language mass media that do not appear in the Francophone media.

The Office of the Commissioner believes that in such instances, a government ministry or agency is breaching the French Language Services Act if it advertises in a majority-language medium without publishing the same advertisement in an Ontario Francophone medium.

In 2011, the Commissioner pointed out that the corporate culture paid little attention to the real integration of French language services. He had also mentioned that the adoption of the Communications in French Directive was a major step forward.58 Unfortunately, seven years down the road, the proliferation of complaints indicates that much remains to be done to change the corporate culture in government communications if full compliance with the Communications in French Directive is to be achieved. A considerable effort is required for the normative framework to be systematically understood and to be observed by all stakeholders that contribute to the development and dissemination of government advertising. The right of Francophone Ontarians to be informed in their own language must take precedence over any economic considerations.

Only two sets of training sessions have since been given to certain public service employees. This is clearly inadequate for ensuring that everyone is aware of the need to include French language services in the design, production and deployment of all government advertising.

Despite the government’s good intentions, the underlying economic considerations that make advertising in the mass media more appealing contribute to the vulnerability of the Francophone media in Ontario. The precarious financial health of these media is detrimental to the future of the Francophone community.

The Ontario government must begin now to develop constructive measures that would encourage ongoing collaboration with the Francophone media and community representatives. Their development would enable the government to comply with the spirit of the French Language Services Act, which recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations.59 Turning a blind eye to the problems being faced by the Francophone media would send an unequivocal message to the Francophone community about the protection of its heritage and the long-term survival of its future. Their heritage is also the province’s heritage. The Francophone media are also the custodians of much of Ontario’s history, having been privileged witnesses to the great events that shaped the Ontario we know today.

The Commissioner believes that adopting a new communications in French regulation, formulating constructive measures, and systematically implementing French language services at the design and distribution stages of producing government advertisements are preconditions for compliance with the Province of Ontario’s statutory commitments to promote the vitality of the Francophone community.

APPENDIX A: COMMUNICATIONS IN FRENCH DIRECTIVE

INTRODUCTION

The Ontario government respects the long history and vibrant culture of the Francophone community in this province. To meet their unique cultural and language needs, the government is committed to proactively offering quality communication services to them.

Legislative Requirements

  • The French Language Services Act (FLSA) guarantees to French speaking individuals, as well as Francophone organizations and municipalities, the right to receive communications services in French equivalent to those offered in English, at the same time, and of the same quality.

Customer Service

  • The Ontario Public Service (OPS) is a professional service organization committed to providing high-quality, cost-effective services that keep pace with rising public expectations.

Impact of Changing Technology

  • As new technologies transform the way we interact with Ontarians, communication from government must evolve and adjust to new formats to ensure that all Ontarians receive information in a timely and effective manner.

Communications in French Guidelines

  • In addition to this directive, the Ontario government has created a guideline document about communications in French. The purpose of this document is to help identify the best and most consistent practices for external communications with the Francophone population.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this directive is to set out the principles, roles and responsibilities regarding communications in French for external customers of the Ontario Public Service.

PRINCIPLES

  • Ministries and classified agencies consider and incorporate the specific needs of the Francophone community during the communications planning process to effectively reach out to Francophones in the implementation process.
  • Communications are effective, relevant and targeted to their audience appropriately.

APPLICATION AND SCOPE

This directive applies to all Ontario ministries and classified agencies with respect to their communication plans and strategies for external customers of the Ontario Public Service.

MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS

All ministries and classified agencies are required:

  • To seek out improvements in how they communicate with Francophones.
  • To adhere to all relevant processes and legislative requirements, notably the French Language Services Act, in the active offer and delivery of French-language services to Ontario’s francophone community.
  • To consider the Francophone community’s specific needs when developing strategic communication plans, and incorporate appropriate approaches into the communications activities, to reach Francophone audiences effectively.

EXEMPTIONS

Any exemptions to this directive must be approved by Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet.

GUIDELINES

To help achieve compliance with the mandatory requirements, ministries and classified agencies should refer to the guideline document. It can be found at:

http://intra.cabinetoffice.gov.on.ca/intranet/docs/communications/guides/Communications_in_French_Guidelines.pdf

RESPONSIBILITIES

Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet:

  • Approve any amendment, update or exemption to this directive.

Cabinet Office Communications:

  • Work with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs to review and recommend to Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet any update, amendment or exemption to the directive.
  • Work with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs to develop support materials relating to this directive.
  • Provide information on any update, amendment to the directive, or supporting material to ministries, working with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs to distribute the above.

The Ministry of Francophone Affairs:

  • Work with Cabinet Office to review and recommend to Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet any update, amendment or exemption to the directive.
  • Work with Cabinet Office Communications to develop support materials relating to this directive.
  • Provide advice and training to ministries and classified agencies as needed.
  • Work with Cabinet Office Communications to help distribute information, as appropriate on any update, amendment to the directive or supporting material.
  • Liaise with the Provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs, the network of French language service coordinators and communications directors in the Ontario Public Service.

Deputy Ministers:

  • Ensure that this directive is implemented by their ministries.
  • Ensure that their staff are aware of and adhere to this directive.

Classified Agency Chairs and Chief Executive Officers:

  • Ensure that this directive is implemented by their agencies.
  • Ensure that their staff are aware of and adhere to this directive.

Ministry of Government Services:

  • Provide advice and guidance for any update, amendment or exemption to this directive.
  • Provide advice and guidance with respect to the authority and mandate of Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet.

Communications Directors:

  • Ensure that this directive is adhered to by their communications staff.

APPENDIX B: COMMUNICATIONS IN FRENCH – GUIDELINES

About These Guidelines

In the context of rapidly evolving communications practices and technologies, the Ontario government is adapting its overall communications approach. Through this ongoing process, the government has reiterated its commitment to proactive and quality communications with its Francophone community.

Ministries and classified agencies must consider and incorporate the specific needs of the Francophone community during the communications planning process to effectively reach out to Francophones in the implementation process.

These guidelines are intended to help government communicators identify the best and most consistent practices for reaching their Francophone population.

In conventional formats (especially the print medium), the guidelines do not change past expectations and requirements. In other newer formats, these guidelines simply clarify what common sense dictates. Overall, these guidelines aim at moving away from a model of simple translation to a model of adaptation to effectively reach this target audience.

Within the government, there is a trend where policy and program departments are engaging in communications activities (for example, producing web or video content).

These guidelines also apply to these activities.

French Language Services Coordinators can assist communicators in complying with these guidelines through the provision of advice and insight into the requirements of the FLSA, best practices and knowledge of the Francophone community. Responsibilities such as translations, adaptations, précis-writing, searches for French websites and references, event planning and video production should be assumed by staff fluent in French and, ideally, familiar with the Francophone community.

The development of these guidelines was led by the Ministry of Francophone Affairs. Cabinet Office, the French Language Services Commissioner and many government communication staff also provided feedback and support.

Context

The Ontario government respects the long history and vibrant culture of the Francophone community in this province. To meet its unique cultural and language needs, the government is committed to proactively offering quality communication services to them.

LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS AND BACKGROUND

The French Language Services Act (FLSA) guarantees to French-speaking individuals, as well as Francophone organizations and municipalities, the right to receive communications services in French equivalent to those offered in English, at the same time, and of the same quality.

The Act is available at http://www.ofa.gov.on.ca/en/flsa.html.

The Communications in French Directive – which came into effect on May 13, 2010 – supports the government’s commitment of building a stronger relationship with the Francophone community and reinforces the importance to comply with these guidelines to ensure staff meet and/or exceed the requirements in the FLSA.

The full Directive is available at: http://intra.ops.myops.gov.on.ca/cms/tiles.nsf/(vwReadResourcesByRefId_Content)/cpd2010.10.05.14.36.12.PTP_res/$File/Communications%20in%20French%20Directive.pdf.

Recent court decisions have strengthened the legal requirements, and have given the French Language Services Act a quasi-constitutional status, and have confirmed that, to be useful and effective, policies and programs must be conceived and adapted to the needs of the Francophone population.

FRENCH-LANGUAGE SERVICES COMMISSIONER

The French Language Services Commissioner has a mandate to conduct independent investigations under the French Language Services Act, either in response to complaints or on his own initiative, to prepare reports on his investigations, and to monitor the progress made by government agencies in the delivery of French-language services in Ontario.

The commissioner’s website is http://www.flsc.gov.on.ca.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

The Ontario Public Service (OPS) is a professional service organization committed to providing high quality, cost-effective services that keep pace with rising public expectations.

ACTIVE OFFER

High-quality modern public services also include an active offer and delivery of French language services to Ontario’s Francophone citizens. The OPS is effective at fulfilling its responsibility under the French Language Services Act when Francophone members of the public are informed about available services in French, have access to these services, and are satisfied with the quality of these services.

IMPACT OF CHANGING TECHNOLOGY

As new technologies transform the way we interact with Ontarians, communication from government must evolve and adjust to new formats to ensure that all Ontarians receive information in a timely and effective manner.

Francophone Community

The Francophone community is quite diverse. While it encompasses an aging population that is not bilingual, Francophone youth are being assimilated and prefer to use English on a daily basis. One out of five Francophones comes from Quebec bringing new perspectives. On the other hand, about 15 per cent of Francophones were born outside Canada. As a result, Ontario’s Francophones share the same language but not necessarily the same cultural references.

Ontario’s Francophones have access to limited mass media, with two local/provincial television networks: Radio-Canada and TFO. Le Droit is published on a daily basis and there are numerous regional/weekly newspapers are published throughout the province.

Public relations and stakeholders relations are thus key to reaching out to Francophones. Social media is also changing the way people and organizations communicate. Numerous websites outside of the province have also become key sources of information for Francophones in Ontario. This is why it is important to adopt a broader, innovative and targeted approach when reaching out to Francophones.

Definitions

Below are some important definitions used throughout these guidelines:

  • Bilingual format: The same document is produced with both French and English.
  • In both languages: Two separate documents are produced – one in French, one in English.
  • Important speeches/events/announcements: These include the Throne Speech, the Budget, statements on the economy and other province wide initiatives that have significant impacts on the general public. Cabinet Office can provide input based on its corporate perspective on priorities and announcements that have a broad impact.

Printed Format

NEWS RELEASE AND BACKGROUNDER

They must be distributed in both languages at the same time. For some announcements, ministries may consider quoting an Anglophone stakeholder in the English release and a Francophone stakeholder in the French release.

SPEECH TRANSCRIPT

If a ministry decides to distribute a transcript for an important speech, it should be made available in both languages simultaneously. Other speech transcripts should be available in French on demand in a timely manner.

HOUSE STATEMENT

These statements in the legislature must be printed in both languages and delivered to the Government House Leader’s Office. It is recommended that the minister’s reading copy includes at least a few phrases in the other language.

CORRESPONDENCE

All letters from the public must be answered in the language of request.

STATIONERY AND FORMS

These must be provided in a bilingual format or in both languages.

BUSINESS CARDS

Cards must be in a bilingual format or in both languages for designated bilingual staff.

PUBLICATIONS

Reports, studies or documents printed for the general public must be distributed or made available in a bilingual format or in both languages. There are exemptions for technical or scholarly documents only; however, an executive summary in French would be helpful to Francophone audiences.

ADVERTISING

Any province wide print advertising campaign to the general public must publish English ads in English publications and French ads in French publications. Similar actions should be taken with television, radio and online campaigns.

Advertising targeted to a specific community or region must use Francophone media if it is appropriate and available in the area.

The deadlines of French print publications must be taken into account since they are generally not published daily.

MARKETING MATERIALS

Postcards, posters, brochures and their display stands must be produced in a bilingual format or in both languages.

HOUSEHOLDERS

Any unaddressed mail sent to the general public must be printed and distributed in a bilingual format.

Electronic Format

WEBSITE CONTENT

Website information for the general public must be posted in both languages simultaneously. Hyperlinks to third-party websites should send the user to content posted in the same language if available. If the third-party website is not available in French, an alternative website with similar content in French should be considered, or a note should be included beside the hyperlink that the website is only available in English.

CORRESPONDENCE

All emails from the general public must be answered in the language of request and within the same turnaround time as English correspondence.

SPEECH TRANSCRIPT

If a ministry decides to post a transcript for an important speech on a website, it should be posted in both languages simultaneously. Other speech transcripts should be available in French on demand in a timely manner.

PUBLICATIONS

Reports, studies or documents posted on a website for the general public must be published in a bilingual format or in both languages. There are exemptions for technical or scholarly documents only; however, an executive summary in French would be helpful to Francophone audiences.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Blogs, journals, RSS feeds, Twitter webpages, Facebook webpages, discussion forums or other social media should be published in both languages or in a bilingual format. The content can be different in both languages to make it more relevant to the Anglophone or Francophone audiences.

Any online users leaving comments or submitting questions must be answered in the language submitted.

If a government spokesperson (e.g., Minister, subject expert) has a personalized social media site and does not speak or write French, then a regular summary of their ongoing comments should be provided in French and an offer to fully translate all of their comments should be made.

A large component of social media is sharing hyperlinks to third-party sites. These should send the user to content posted in the same language if available. If the third-party website is not available in French, an alternative website with similar content in French should be considered, or a note should be included beside the hyperlink that the website is only available in English.

VIDEO AND AUDIO RECORDINGS OF EVENTS

Videos should be produced and posted in the language of the event with a transcript available in the other language. Important events and announcements should have separate French and English videos produced or contain some content in both languages.

See Appendix A for more details and recommendations.

SCRIPTED VIDEO AND PODCASTS

Videos and podcasts should be produced and posted in both languages for important events and announcements. Other events and announcements can be produced in English, French or both languages; however, at minimum a transcript must be posted if the video or podcast is only available in one language. For events/announcements of particular interest to the Francophone community, a French video should be strongly considered.

See Appendix A for more details and recommendations.

Oral Format

PUBLIC INQUIRIES

All questions in person and on the telephone from the public must be proactively answered in the language of request.

MEDIA RELATIONS

All questions from the media at events or on the phone can be answered in either English or French depending on the spokesperson’s language skills. For a major announcement, a bilingual spokesperson should be made available if possible.

SPEECH

Remarks at events, public announcements or statements in the legislature should be delivered in the language of the speaker with passages in the other language, if they have sufficient knowledge and comfort. For important speeches by Anglophones, 10 to 20 percent of the content should be delivered in French if possible.

See Appendix B for more details and recommendations.

CONSULTATIONS

Documents should be available in both languages or in a bilingual format. Bilingual staff or interpretation services should be available if appropriate for the audience. Separate discussion groups or consultations for subjects of particular interest to the Francophone community should be organized. When relevant, compile and analyze the views of Francophones separately, because they may have different concerns.

Appendix A: Videos

GENERAL RULES

  • When the speaker has adequate language skills (especially if he or she is a minister), film a French version if possible. A message delivered by the speaker, even with an accent, is preferable to subtitles or a voice-over.
  • When posting transcriptions, ensure they appear on the same screen as the video, or in a separate window, so as to allow simultaneous viewing of the video and transcription.
  • If a video is only available in English, always indicate that it is the case. However, post the video, not simply the transcription.
VIDEO RECORDINGS OF EVENTS
  • When recording an event in both languages, ensure that visual elements and moments that occur in French are also recorded and used in production. For important events, consider editing two different versions, with a greater proportion of “French moments” in the video produced for French speakers.
  • For events of particular interest to the Francophone community, produce a French video where possible.
SCRIPTED VIDEO

Videos produced in both languages, subtitled or voiced over

  • While the script for the English and French version of a video may be the same, substitute French interviews/testimonials from bilingual people if available (filming them in each language) or from different people. Avoid voice-over or subtitles.
  • Identify Francophones to take part in those videos so they can testify to the benefits of a given announcement.
  • For English parts, a voice-over is preferable to subtitles. Subtitles are preferable to transcriptions.
  • Videos that involve filming several different people can be a mix of both, i.e., those who can speak French will speak in French and others’ comments could be voiced over.
  • Remember to translate all graphics, maps, and images. If a video has subtitles, plan to replace any visual elements in English with visual elements in French.
  • If necessary, adapt the content.

Videos in one language

  • Videos in “blog” style, i.e., personal journals of individuals other than the Premier, may be produced in the language of the speaker.

Educational and informative videos

  • Some videos are produced for distribution in the community, with the participation of stakeholders or professional actors. For example, videos for the Ontario Provincial Police on the prevention of extortion or videos for the Ministry of Education on healthy nutrition.
  • These videos should be produced in both languages using Francophone stakeholders or professional actors for the French version. Generally, when subtitles and voice-overs are used, the final product is not equal in quality to the English version.
  • Communication directors and assistant directors can advise on their minister’s fluency and proficiency in French when planning videos or other communication tactics.

Appendix B: Speeches

Speakers are encouraged to incorporate at least a few French phrases at any speaking engagement to reflect the active presence of the Francophone community in Ontario and its institution. A Francophone audience will appreciate a short speech in French as opposed to a longer speech in English.

The percentage of French content should depend on:

  • the audience: if there are Francophones in the audience, this fact should be acknowledged with a few carefully-chosen phrases;
  • the speaker’s ability: the more limited the speaker’s fluency in French, the shorter these passages in French should be. Attention should also be paid to choosing French words that are easier to pronounce;
  • the subject matter: the more the subject is of interest to the Francophone community (or to Francophones in the audience), the more French there should be in the speech.

APPENDIX C: STRATEGIC MEDIA BRIEF (Available in English only)

*To be provided with the ARB project brief (and inform creative brief)

Campaign

File, Ministry

Key Contacts

Ministry:

Name, phone number, email

Cabinet Office:

Name, phone number, email

CAMPAIGN AND MEDIA INFORMATION FOR PHD

What process is involved?

In-Market Timing

Air date, flex on lead medium, length of buy

What process is involved?

Media Budget

Marketing Objective

Is the objective SMART?

Campaign Type

Awareness, Engagement, Action

Target Audience Demographics

Be as specific as possible:

· Include primary and secondary targets.

· Include sub-groups: multicultural, people with disabilities, Indigenous.

Psychographics

Factors include values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.

(academic journals, online research, market research, perceptions and awareness testing)

*Can be collected through a survey if not available.

Audience Research

(List any research reports that may be of use.)

Key audience insights:

· market research

· behavioral insights

French Language

· Indicate French-language requirements in accordance with FLSA.

Multicultural and Accessibility Requirements

Indicate language needs: Multicultural, Indigenous, highlight any extra focus for key multicultural groups.

Seasonality or Campaign Timing

(List any key periods that may have a bearing on the plan.):

e.g., a selling period, like OSBs, policy or program drivers, alignment with announcements or key events, international/national weeks/months/day with a certain topic or theme (e.g., mental health week), mindset drivers or search trends data

Geography

(What are the key areas for focus?)

Is there a geo-targeted or local need for the plan?

Assets (List any assets that are potential channels – owned or earned channels.)

Includes current creative assets we plan to use, photography, designated webpages, social media platforms or channels, YouTube channel.

Metrics/KPIs

Link to the Ontario/PHD KPIs. Include other specific measureable metrics, e.g., completed applications or uptake on a new program

Reporting Requirements

· Weekly digital report (topline to CO Marketing)

· Bi-weekly digital reports (ministry and CO Marketing)

· Full post-report and presentation (ministry and CO marketing)

· Include reporting start/end dates

Anticipated Creative Briefs

e.g.,

· Production TV/Video

· Digital/Social

· Event

MEDIA NEUTRAL STRATEGIC PLAN

INFORMATION FROM PHD TO CLIENT (7-10 BUSINESS DAYS)

Media consumption habits

This is what we know about the audience. Illustrate through a “day in the life of” example.

Target Audience Psychographics

Information about the target’s values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyle

Competitive Considerations

High-level overview of media competition (regardless of creative and spend)

Considerations if others brands are advertising in the same space/time? (e.g., pharmacies advertising the flu shot at the same time as we are)

ROI and Learning from Previous Campaigns/Audience

Lessons learned from campaigns with similar target or creative considerations

Search Data

Learning or insights from previous search campaigns to help define timing or key messages that resonated, search trends/google trends

Device or Output Considerations

Any special focus or considerations?

· Mobile heavy?

· Any key/high-profile programming media timing in the winter

· Anything we should be aware of?

Note: follow up item/circle back to target audience and psychographics and media insights (e.g., a day in the life)

Free Surveys or other Value-Add Tools

Google or YouTube surveys and other value-added opportunities from platforms

APPENDIX D: THE STEPS FOR GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING IN ONTARIO

Steps

Lead

Notes

Campaign need is identified

Cabinet Office (CO) and/or Ministry

Marketing Strategy is initiated

CO and Ministry

French language requirements are identified as part of the Marketing Strategy template

PHD is engaged to develop early insights into target audience

CO and Ministry

ARB Project Brief is developed to procure a creative advertising agency

CO and Ministry

French Language Requirements are part of the ARB project brief

Advertising agency is procured

ARB, Ministry and CO

Advertising agency is on boarded

CO and Ministry

Onboarding consists of sharing and discussing French language requirements and guidelines

Marketing Strategy Brief is finalized and shared with creative advertising agency and PHD

CO and Ministry

Considerations for French language requirements are included in the brief

Creative agency presents creative concepts and

PHD presents media plan

Advertising Agency

PHD

Creative concepts include campaign execution in French and media plan includes French media

Creative concepts are tested (if required)

Ad agency, CO and ministry

Creative testing includes testing French creative with Francophone audiences

Media plan is finalized

PHD, CO and ministry

Campaign is produced

Ad agency, CO and ministry

Source: Cabinet Office


[1] French Language Services Act, RSO 1990, c F.32 (“French Language Services Act”).

[2] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Investigation Report Regarding an English-Only H1N1 Flyer: From communication crash to communication coup, Toronto, 2011.

[3] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Investigation Report Regarding an English-Only H1N1 Flyer: From communication crash to communication coup, Toronto, 2011.

[4] French Language Services Act, s. 12.2.

[5] Fernand Harvey, et al., Médias francophones hors Québec et identités, Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, Québec City, 1992, p. 84.

[6] Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape, House of Commons of Canada, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, June 2017, p. 16. Also available at https://nmc-mic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Heritage-Committee-Report-June-2017.pdf.

[7] Annie Bédard, Les médias et les organismes porte-parole des communautés francophones et acadiennes : rapports, synergie et tensions, Thèmes canadiens, 2007, p. 20.

[8] Circular of Instruction no. 17, adopted by the Ontario Ministry of Education in June 1912, and commonly called Regulation 17, restricted the use of French as a language of instruction to the first two years of elementary school and was later amended to allow only one hour of instruction per day.

[9] Paul-François Sylvestre, Les journaux de l’Ontario français 1858-1983. Société historique du Nouvel-Ontario, University of Sudbury, 1984, p. 5, Documents historiques no 81.

[10] Ibid., p. 7.

[11] Government Advertising Act, 2004, SO 2004, c. 20.

[12] Management Board of Cabinet, Advertising Content Directive, Toronto, 2006. Available in English only.

[13] Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2016 Annual Report, “Review of Government Advertising”, Toronto, 2016, volume 1 of 2, p. 761. Available at http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arbyyear/ar2016.html.

[14] Ibid., p. 761. These expenditures are related to advertising that is subject to review under the Government Advertising Act, 2004, SO 2004, c. 20.

[15] See the steps for government advertising in Ontario in Appendix D.

[16] See Strategic Media Brief in Appendix C.

[17] Every three years, the Advertising Review Board launches new invitations to tender in order to establish a new list of suppliers. This process includes an evaluation of the capacity of the agencies to provide services in French and to produce French-language content.

[18] See Appendix C.

[19] For further details, see: https://www.ontario.ca/page/published-plan-and-annual-report-cabinet-office (page consulted in January 2018).

[20] Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Advertising Review Board, Toronto, p. 3.

[21] Advertising Review Board, Business Plan for 2016-2017 to 2018-2019. Available at https://www.ontario.ca/page/advertising-review-board-business-plan-2016-2017-2018-2019

[22] The Ministerial Communications Fund was $343,520 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year and has remained unchanged.

[23] French Language Services Act, s. 5.

[24] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Investigation Report regarding an English-only H1N1 flyer: From communication crash to communication coup, Toronto, 2011.

[25] Ibid., p. 25.

[26] Government Advertising Act, 2004, SO 2004, c. 20.

[27] See Communications in French Directive in Appendix A.

[28] Management Board of Cabinet, Advertising Content Directive, Toronto, 2006, p. 3. Available in English only.

[29] Management Board of Cabinet, Communications in French Directive, Guideline Document, 2010. Available at http://intra.cabinetoffice.gov.on.ca/intranet/docs/communications/guides/Communication s_in_French_Guidelines.pdf

[30] Ibid.

[31] See Communications in French Directive in Appendix A.

[32] The Minister can recommend such a regulation to the Lieutenant Governor in Council pursuant to subsection 11(4) of the French Language Services Act:

11(4) Subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the Minister may make regulations generally for the better administration of this Act […]

[33] See Appendix C, Strategic Media Brief (Available in English only).

[34] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Investigation Report Regarding an English-Only H1N1 Flyer: From communication crash to communication coup, Toronto, 2011, p. 18. In his report, the Commissioner recommended that the Ministry of Francophone Affairs (formerly the Office of Francophone Affairs), in collaboration with the Cabinet Office Policy and Delivery Division, be assigned the task of providing ongoing training on the Communications in French Directive to all teams responsible for developing policies, programs or services in all the classified ministries.

[35] Ibid., p. 18.

[36] In giving testimony before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Sylviane Lanthier, the FCFA president at the time, made the following point:

However, our media are suffering today. Last year, one of our newspapers, L’Express d’Ottawa, folded and another, L’Eau Vive in Saskatchewan, suspended publication for a few months. A benefit concert for this newspaper will take place next week, in fact. When it comes to radio, three of the ARC member stations no longer have paid staff. In places like Halifax and Peace River, the problems are so serious that the station’s survival is at risk.

(Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Number 006, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, March 8, 2016).

[37] See Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Preliminary Investigation Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, September 2016, file 2015-0636; Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape, June 2017, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session; Report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, Reaching Canadians with Effective Government Advertising, December 2017. 42nd Parliament, 1st Session; Francopresse, Médias communautaires : Les journaux et radios au pied du mur fédéral, January 15, 2018, https://www.francopresse.ca/2018/01/15/medias-communautaires-les-journaux-et-radios-au-pied-du-mur-federal/ ; Acadie Nouvelle, Des obligations à respecter en toute urgence, January 9, 2018, https://www.acadienouvelle.com/mon-opinion/2018/01/09/obligations-a-respecter-toute-urgence/.

[38] Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Disruption: Change and Churning in Canada’s Media Landscape, June 2017, 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, p. 5.

[39] Statistics Canada, Survey on the Vitality of Official-Language Minorities, Ottawa, 2007.

[40] Mahé v Alberta, [1990] 1 SCR 342, Arsenault-Cameron v PEI, [2000] 1 SCR 3 and Doucet –Boudreau v Nova Scotia, [2003] 3 SCR 3.

[41] Galganov v Russell (Township), 2012 ONCA 409, para. 34-39, 75-77.

[42] Lalonde v Ontario (Ontario Health Services Restructuring Commission), 2001 CanLII 21164 (ON CA); Lalonde v Ontario (Ontario Health Services Restructuring Commission), 1999 CanLII 19910 (ON SCDC).

[43] Raymond Breton, “Institutional Completeness of Ethnic Communities and the Personal Relations of Immigrants,” American Journal of Sociology, 70, 2, 1964, pp. 193-205.

[44] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, A study of Ontario’s French-Language Community Radio Stations: Key components of the vitality of francophone communities, Toronto, 2011, p. 8.

[45] French Language Services Act, Preamble.

[46] In Ontario, there are best practices for providing support to media that target certain communities. Examples include the Corporate Communications Fund administered by the Advertising Review Board, which funds advertising in ethnic and Indigenous media.

[47] At meetings between the Commissioner’s Office and representatives of Ontario’s Francophone print media, the latter pointed out that the use of the online Merx bidding system had significantly altered the playing field and reduced their share of advertising revenue because of fewer government calls for tender being advertised in Francophone newspapers. While they understood why the private sector would prefer the mass media for their advertising campaigns, experts felt that the government’s decision to develop a similar marketing strategy was contradictory. As the goal of government advertising is educating and informing the public, they felt that governments should be adopting a proximity marketing strategy that would of necessity make use of regional and community media.

[48] Kealy Wilkinson and Associates, La radio communautaire en Ontario : une ressource dynamique, un avenir incertain, Ministry of Culture and Communications, Ontario, 1988, p. 62.

[49] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, A study of Ontario’s French-Language Community Radio Stations: Key components of the vitality of francophone communities, Toronto, 2011, p. 13.

[50] Ibid, p. 13.

[51] In 1987, Ontario’s Ministry of Culture and Communications undertook a study of the status and development of community radio over a 15-year period. In response to this study, the provincial Ministry of Economic Development and Trade introduced the Community Radio Ontario program (CRO), whose role was to encourage and support the establishment of community radio stations and to make existing radio stations more stable. The program was eliminated in 1995 as a result of a number of budget cuts.

[52] Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2016 Annual Report, “Review of Government Advertising,” Toronto, 2016, volume 1 of 2, p. 761. Available online at http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arbyyear/ar2016.html

[53] Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Preliminary Investigation Report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, September 2016, file 2015-0636.

[54] Pierre-Yves Robert, “Crise publicitaire chez Google : une histoire de « brand safety ».” Infopresse, 2017. Available online at http://www.infopresse.com/article/2017/3/28/crise-publicitaire-chez-google-une-histoire-de-brand-safety (page consulted in January 2018).

[55] Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario, White Paper, “Les médias francophones en Ontario,” 2017, p. 23.

[56] While experts interviewed in the course of this investigation were unanimous on the importance of such a collaboration, they were all convinced that the Francophone media also needed to think about developing more efficient and innovative economic models.

[57] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Study of Ontario’s French-Language Community Radio Stations, 2011, p. 14.

[58] Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Investigation Report Regarding an English-Only H1N1 Flyer: From communication crash to communication coup, p. 30.

[59] French Language Services Act, s. 1.

A “grande dame” of the Francophone community retires

For over 30 years, Jocelyne Samson has dedicated body and soul to the Ontario Public Service, and more specifically its Francophone clientele. The time has come for her to return to good health and focus a little on herself and her family.

When Jocelyne was hired at the Office of the Commissioner in February 2008, after I called her to offer her the position, she was the one who interviewed me! She did not want to work for someone who was not committed to the development of Ontario’s Francophone community. I hope I have not been too much of a disappointment to her! To me, however, that anecdote spoke volumes about her strong personality: if she could talk to her future employer that way, I knew that she would never hesitate to voice her opinion, and the bonus was that she would not have accepted responses submitted by ministries that were not really interested in finding long-term solutions for complainants. In fact, she often used the word “deplorable” to describe what ministries and other government agencies did or did not do.

Speaking of complainants, I have yet to meet a single person who did not have great things to say about Jocelyne’s work. She is indefatigable – I had to persuade her not to write to complainants on the weekend (so she would mischievously send out a series of ready-made emails at 7:00 Monday morning). She is a hard bargainer – she quickly gained a reputation among our government partners for proving that the Office of the Commissioner was not here just for window dressing. She is irreproachable – the quality of her work spoke for itself. For a long time, she was the only person at the Office of the Commissioner who handled investigations, and still, complainants were always kept abreast of the results of our investigations.

I also want to highlight Jocelyne’s high ethical standards, her strength of character, her convictions, her passion as a communicator, her unwavering commitment to the Franco-Ontarian community, and her deep affection for the Office of the Commissioner.

The one thing I can think of to say is little indeed to describe Jocelyne’s contribution to the success of the Office of the Commissioner, but I will take my chances: thank you.

Jocelyne, I wish you a very long and unbelievably well-deserved retirement. Most importantly, may you have good health and let your family and friends pamper you now.

 

 

Study on Designation: Revitalizing the Provision of French Language Services

Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau announced the release of a special study on the current status of the agency designation process under the French Language Services Act and Regulation 398/93. The report’s conclusions confirm that it is essential for the Ontario government to modernize this important mechanism in order to enhance French language services and to contribute to the development of the entire Francophone community.

You may order free copies of this executive summary or any of our other publications by contacting our office.

By mail:
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
800 Bay Street, Suite 402
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3A9

By email: flsc-csf@flscontario.ca
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Table of contents

Introduction

Purpose and relevance of the study on designation of agencies

The French Language Services Act1 makes it possible for an agency to obtain designation to ensure the permanent provision of French language services. This process is a means of guaranteeing the active and ongoing provision of French language services while meeting the specific needs of the Francophone population being served.2

However, now that the mechanism has been in place for a number of years, it has become clear that the offer of services in French has not increased, or is of lesser quality, in several key sectors.3 Indeed, some designated agencies no longer fulfill several of the requirements of their designation or are not receiving, following designation, appropriate support4 to help them maintain quality French language services. Furthermore, agencies interested in obtaining designation are sometimes deterred by the rigidity of the criteria and the lack of clarity about the designation process itself. This of course affects the provision of services in French and, accordingly, impacts how Francophone communities flourish in Ontario.

Over the past 10 years, the French Language Services Commissioner has made many recommendations on the designation of agencies in Ontario. In his first annual report, he pointed out that, although designation guarantees ongoing provision of services, it is undermined by the absence of an accountability process, which affects the quality of French language services provided by designated agencies.5 In his 2011-2012 Annual Report, he spoke at length about the process, including the harmonization of designation criteria and the introduction of a more consistent accountability mechanism. He recommended to

“the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs that a mandatory directive on the designation process for agencies be established in compliance with the French Language Services Act, after due consultations with representatives from the community and designated agencies. This directive should be implemented by 2013-2014 and should include:

  1. Consistent designation criteria (…);
  2. Accountability mechanisms that are transparent and accessible to the public;
  3. A mechanism for resolving disputes that is made available to the users of services;
  4. A mandatory and independent assessment, every three years, based on all of the designation criteria, including criteria dealing with governance; this assessment should also include corrective measures, when necessary.”6

Further to this report, the government responded to the recommendations by establishing a working group in 2012 to reform the designation process. From the conclusions reached by this working group, a new designation process with harmonized criteria was adopted. An accountability framework was also established, in the form of a certificate of compliance issued to designated organizations every three years. Despite all of these government measures, the designation process still exhibits a number of problems that make it less attractive to service providers. These include the rigidity of evaluation criteria, a lack of familiarity with the process of revoking a designation, the absence of pre- and post-designation support and accountability of designated service providers. The Commissioner was therefore justified, in his 10th annual report, to recommend

“that the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, develop and implement, for fiscal year 2017-2018, a directive supporting the new designation plan developed by the Office of Francophone Affairs, which includes simplified criteria, an independent mandatory triennial evaluation, as well as transparent accountability mechanisms and accessible evaluation reports following designation.”7

Following this recommendation, and in alignment with its new strategic directions, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner initiated this special study on designation in Ontario. It is also important to point out that this reform of the designation process is mentioned in the mandate letter from the Premier to the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.8

The overall objective of this special study is to take stock of the designation process under the French Language Services Act and Regulation 398/939 in its current version, but above all, to formulate recommendations for its improvement based on the experience of those involved, i.e. government stakeholders and heads of designated agencies, or agencies wishing to obtain designation. In view of the constant changes in services provided to Ontarians, it seems essential to update this important mechanism to increase availability of French language services and thus contribute to the vitality of Ontario’s Francophone community.

Methodology of the study

The methodology for this study consists of three components. The first is a literature review, which provides information about the designation process as it is currently practised and the designation criteria, in addition to a description of the roles played by each stakeholder and available support tools.

The second component took the form of interviews with 25 interviews with stakeholders who play a role in the designation process. They include those who assist agencies with the application for designation, and senior management teams of designated or identified agencies, or ones who are in the process of obtaining designation. These interviews provided a perspective from those directly involved in the designation process. The Office of the Commissioner used a specially prepared questionnaire to obtain their opinion on challenges within the designation process and on possible improvements to adapt it to today’s environment.

The third component of the methodology consists of analyzing quantitative data. The Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario provided a detailed assessment of how 149 designated and identified health-related agencies comply with the designation criteria.10 This quantitative study identified which designation criteria and requirements were the most difficult or easiest to fulfill for designated and identified agencies, and which factors affect compliance or non-compliance with these criteria and requirements.

This study is divided into three main sections. The first describes the designation process and framework in Ontario as it now stands. The second section contains a discussion of the findings, challenges and potential solutions and recommendations identified during the course of the analysis, including interviews with stakeholders and heads of designated agencies or agencies that have applied for designation. The third section gives a detailed list of recommendations for strengthening the designation process.

I – Conceptual Approach: What is designation in Ontario? What process is involved?

1. The legislative and regulatory framework for designation in Ontario

In Ontario, the designation of an agency is a legal and administrative process subject to the rules and procedures prescribed by the French Language Services Act and Regulation 398/93, as well as directions from the Ministry of Francophone Affairs.

1.1 The French Language Services Act

The French Language Services Act, which was unanimously adopted on November 18, 1986, and came into force in 1989, acknowledges the historical and cultural importance of the French language in Ontario and guarantees its use in government institutions and agencies in Ontario. It is also well entrenched in Ontario’s legal framework owing to the broad and generous interpretation of the Ontario Court of Appeal, which itself relies on the structural principle of respect for and protection of minorities.11 The terms of the designation process are therefore set out in the French Language Services Act.

1.2 Definitions according to the French Language Services Act

Two terms are essential to define the designation process under the French Language Services Act: they are “government agency” and “services.” Hence, according to the French Language Services Act, a government agency is:

(a) a ministry of the Government of Ontario, except that a psychiatric facility, residential facility or college of applied arts and technology that is administered by a ministry is not included unless it is designated as a public service agency by the regulations;

(b) a board, commission or corporation the majority of whose members or directors are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council;

(c) 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 by the regulations;

(d) a long-term care home as defined in the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 that is designated as a public service agency by the Regulations, other than a municipal home or joint home established under Part VIII of the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, or a home for special care as defined in the Homes for Special Care Act that is designated as a public service agency by the regulations;

(e) a service provider as defined in the Child and Family Services Act or a board as defined in the District Social Services Administration Boards Act that is designated as a public service agency by the regulations.12

The term “service” is defined in the French Language Services Act as “any service or procedure that is provided to the public by a government agency or institution of the Legislature and includes all communications for the purpose.”13 With these two terms now clarified, designation is therefore the process by which the Lieutenant Governor in Council designates an agency to provide services in French. In other words, it amounts to an official recognition by the province that an agency is capable of providing French language services.14 This recognition results from the agency’s demonstration that it meets the criteria and requirements defined by the Ontario Ministry of Francophone Affairs.15

The Court of Appeal of Ontario highlighted a section of the Divisional Court of Ontario’s decision in Lalonde v. Ontario (Commission de restructuration des services de santé) and confirmed that Montfort’s designation as a public service agency under the French Language Services Act meant that:

“[T]he francophone community of Ontario had acquired a legislatively recognized entitlement to receive health services in a truly francophone environment at Hôpital Monfort, and an expectation that those services would be provided in at least the quality and extent offered by Monfort, including the existence of a training centre that guaranteed the instruction of medical professionals in French.”16

According to section 9 of the French Language Services Act, this designation may be restricted to specific services available from the designated agency; this is referred to as limited or partial designation. In such instances, Regulation 398/93sets out the specific services for which the agency is designated under the Act. In its current form, this limited or partial designation does not reduce the number of criteria (5) or the number of requirements (34) to be met to obtain designation.

Designation is based on two fundamental pillars: the transactional pillar and the identity pillar.

On the transactional level, the government, through Regulation 398/93, designates agencies, to ensure the sustainability of French language services. The public then has the right, guaranteed by the Act, to receive French language services from these agencies. This service is deemed essential, if not critical, especially in the areas of health, education, justice, social and community services, or to serve vulnerable individuals like the elderly and children. In other words, through a designation, the government announces to the public that a specific service is available, important, necessary, and protected. This commitment is not taken lightly since sections 7 and 10 of the Act provide a strict framework for revoking the status of a designated agency.

On the identity level, in addition to improving French language services, the designation contributes to the development and growth of the Francophone community. In fact, designated agencies are a network of institutions where Francophones can actively receive French language services. Whether it is in educational establishments, community centres, or even hospitals, this network supports and helps Francophones in their daily activities. Indeed, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed in the Lalonde decision that agencies are more than services providers; they are also symbols and reflections of the Francophone community’s vitality.

The French Language Services Act shares the same pillars. On the transactional side, pursuant to section 5, the public has the right to receive French language services from government ministries and agencies and to communicate in French with them. The ministries, for example, must ensure that services they provide are fair and adapted to Francophones’ needs. However, these services are not provided in a vacuum; they are enshrined in the preamble of the Act. The Act states explicitly that:

“ the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations; and it is desirable to guarantee the use of the French language in institutions of the Legislature and the Government of Ontario”.

The Act also has an identity component since it serves as the basis for establishing the network of designated agencies that help protect the French language in Ontario. This is illustrated by the establishment, through legislation, of Francophone institutions such as the Université de l’Ontario français or the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario. The majority of Francophones are aware of the Act, see themselves in the Act, and associate the protection of their language and culture with various government obligations contained in the Act.

1.3 Is designation voluntary?

Since the enactment of the French Language Services Act, the Government of Ontario has received designation applications from agencies strictly on a voluntary basis. This interpretation would not appear to correspond to the letter or spirit of the Act, for three fundamental reasons. Firstly, it is perfectly plausible that the legislator simply wanted to allow the government to choose for designation certain publicly funded agencies that had capacity to provide French language services. Moreover, it is explicitly stated that only universities have the power to refuse designation under subsection 9(2) of the French Language Services Act, universities must consent to designation. The purpose of this subsection was to protect universities from the imposition of a designation, which means that other agencies do not have such protection and, accordingly, may be obligated to accept designation.

Secondly, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs has the power to recommend that agencies be designated pursuant to paragraph 12(2)(b) of the French Language Services Act. To a certain extent, this confirms that designation was never intended to be a wholly voluntary process.

Finally, designated agencies receive public funds to offer service to the public. Their governing bodies and funding are not exempt from audits and accountability, as is the case for public entities like ministries and Crown corporations.

For example, in the health sector, although some health services providers are partially or fully designated, there are over 200 providers whose services have been identified17 but who never applied for designation. Identification was attributed to them given the importance and specialized nature of the services they provide. It then becomes the responsibility of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) in collaboration with their French Language Health Planning Entities to plan and fund the services delivered by these providers to support regional planning and build capacity of French language health services. To guarantee the delivery of French language services, the LHINs can request partial designation for health service providers to ensure the sustainability of specific French language services.

2. Designation criteria and process

2.1 Designation criteria

An agency receives designation status in Ontario based on the criteria and requirements defined by the Ontario Ministry of Francophone Affairs (Appendix 2), which according to the Ministry were developed following consultations with other Government of Ontario ministries and members of the Francophone community. Five (5) criteria and thirty-four (34) requirements serve as a framework for the designation process. They are:

  1. Services must be of high quality and offered on a permanent basis by employees who possess the required French language skills.
    The agency must ensure the permanence of the French-Language services offered to the public. It must incorporate delivery of French-Language services into its bylaws, policies and quality control processes.18
  2. Access to services must be guaranteed and follow the principles of the active offer of French language services.
  3. Francophone representation on the agency’s board of directors and committees must be included in the bylaws and be proportionate to the percentage of Francophones within the population served.
  4. There must be effective representation of Francophones on the senior management team.
  5. The board and senior management must be accountable for the quality of French language services provided.
    In other words, to achieve designation under the terms of the French Language Services Act, the agency must ensure adequate representation of the Francophone community on its board of directors and within its management team.19

An agency applying for designation demonstrates its fulfillment of these criteria by meeting thirty-four (34) compliance requirements (Appendix 2). These compliance requirements are more specific and elaborate on the following major topics:

  • Direct services to clients;
  • Governance and accountability;
  • Composition of the board of directors;
  • Francophone representation in senior management;
  • Visual identity of the organization, including signage and communications;
  • Human resources, including recruitment and training of bilingual staff; and
  • Endorsement from the community through letters of support from community leaders.

Although there is a degree of alignment in the form itself between the criteria and the requirements, it is important to clearly explain how and why the thirty-four (34) requirements provide a framework for the five (5) criteria and contribute to compliance.

2.2 Designation process

The process of applying for designation varies from one ministry to another with respect to support, evaluation and processing time. However, generally speaking, there are four major stages (Appendix 2):

  • Preliminary application for designation;
  • Evaluation by the ministry responsible for, or which funds, the agency;
  • Evaluation by the Ministry of Francophone Affairs;
  • Official designation.
Preliminary application for designation

This is the stage at which the agency states its intention to apply for designation. For the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, this statement of intent can be made to the French language services coordinators of the LHINs or to staff of the French Language Health Planning Entities. For the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the application is made to the program supervisors at the regional level. For other ministries, the French language services coordinators within each ministry are approached.

Generally speaking, the agency applying for designation is either an identified agency in the case of the health sector20 or an agency that has developed the ability to provide services in French over the years.21 Once intent has been expressed, the agency works with the support structures, namely French Language Health Planning Entities and LHIN coordinators, to complete the application and ensure that the Ministry of Francophone Affairs’ criteria and requirements are met. At the end of this phase, the agency may in some instances receive the approval of the next reporting level, the LHIN, in the case of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, or a program supervisor for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services or the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The application is then forwarded for the second phase. If there is no immediate reporting level, the completed application is sent directly by the agency to the ministry responsible or the funding ministry.

Evaluation by the ministry responsible for, or which funds, the agency

Once the agency considers its application complete, or once the application has been approved by the support structure and the next reporting level,22 it is forwarded to the funding ministry for further evaluation. This second evaluation is again based on the Ministry of Francophone Affairs’ criteria and requirements. The purpose of the second evaluation is to ensure that the application meets all designation requirements and criteria. Following approval by the ministry involved at this stage, the application is forwarded to the Ministry of Francophone Affairs.

Evaluation by the Ministry of Francophone Affairs

The Ministry of Francophone Affairs concludes the process with a final evaluation of the application. Once this has been completed, it approves the application for designation and forwards it to the Minister’s Office for official confirmation.

Official designation

The Minister of Francophone Affairs confirms the designation and forwards it to Cabinet for approval, following which it is sent to the Lieutenant Governor for formal approval. The confirmation is then made official in the Ontario Gazette.

As described above, the designation process consists of three evaluations, all of which are based on the same criteria and requirements. The redundancy in this process has an impact on processing times. In addition, it has not been possible to identify the methodology or scales used for each evaluation.

2.3 Designation application timelines

No timelines are specified for completing a designation application. No timelines are mentioned for each of the four (4) stages in the designation process. The interviews conducted during this study showed that it could take an agency up to two years after applying to the appropriate ministry before officially obtaining designation. This slow process may even affect the ability to meet some of the requirements, such as those pertaining to human resources. Moreover, little feedback is provided to the applicant about the status of the application, which increases uncertainty of management and staff due to lack of information.

2.4 Revocation of designation23

An agency may ask its funding ministry or government institution to revoke its designation. In doing so, it must comply with sections 7 and 10 of the French Language Services Act. Section 7 prescribes that:

“7. The obligations of government agencies and institutions of the Legislature under this Act are subject to such limits as circumstances make reasonable and necessary, if all reasonable measures and plans for compliance with this Act have been taken or made.”24

Thus, pursuant to its obligations under section 7, the ministry responsible for supervising the designated organization must be able to demonstrate that “all reasonable measures and plans for compliance with this Act have been taken or made” before proceeding with the revocation of a designation. Hence, if the ministry is forced to restrict the services being provided, it must ensure that this limitation is essential within the meaning of the act and, where applicable, take corrective action to prevent any loss of services to the Francophone community. It is worth noting that the threshold for justifying a revocation of, or decrease in, services is high.25

Although the Ministry can justify a revocation, it must discharge its obligations under section 10, which means publishing a notice for at least 45 days in The Ontario Gazette announcing the amendment to the regulation, as well as in a newspaper of general circulation in Ontario.

“10. (1) This section applies to a regulation,

  1. exempting a service under clause 8(c);
  2. revoking the designation of a public service agency;
  3. amending a regulation designating a public service agency so as to exclude or remove a service from the designation.

(2) A regulation to which this section applies shall not be made until at least forty-five days after a notice has been published in The Ontario Gazette and a newspaper of general circulation in Ontario setting forth the substance of the proposed regulation and inviting comments to be submitted to the Minister.

(3) After the expiration of the forty-five day period, the regulation with such changes as are considered advisable may be made without further notice.”26

Ultimately then, to revoke a designation, the agency at issue or the ministry that funds it must:

  • Demonstrate that all measures in compliance with this Act were considered and that the revocation is absolutely necessary; and
  • Publish a notice in The Ontario Gazette and a newspaper of general circulation inviting comments from the community.

It is essential for each designated agency and the ministry that funds it to properly understand the issues and implications of revoking a designation insofar as any misunderstanding about the procedure may have serious consequences for the public. The recent case involving the closure of Penetanguishene General Hospital demonstrates the importance of being thoroughly familiar with the designation revocation process. Indeed, since 2008, several mergers, transfers of service and changes in status have been effected between Penetanguishene General Hospital and Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH). The Ministry of Francophone Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care should in this instance have triggered the designation revocation process for Penetanguishene General Hospital. Because they did not, there was a serious impact on the delivery of French language health services in the region.

The Ministry of Francophone Affairs is responsible for advising ministries and government agencies during the revocation process, for approving the request, and for taking appropriate action to amend Regulation 398/93.

A transfer of services between a designated agency and a non-designated agency is also possible, in which case two amendments to Regulation 398/93 are needed:

  1. An amendment to designate the non-designated agency as a government agency under Regulation 398/93 (provided that all the prerequisites are met); and
  2. An amendment to revoke the designation of the designated agency, in compliance with the revocation procedure provided in sections 7 and 10 of the Act.27 Finally, the provision of designated services cannot be reduced in terms of frequency or quality during the process of transferring these from the designated agency to another that is not designated.

3. Designation support tools and guidance process

This study has identified two tools or processes used to provide agencies with support during the designation process. For the health sector, it is a tool implemented by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario and for children, youth and community social services, there is a “clauses” mechanism.

3.1 Tool developed by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario

The Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario has developed an Excel-based tool28 to assist agencies in preparing their designation applications (Appendix 1). It consists of four (4) sections:

  • Information about the agency’s profile;
  • The type of designation being applied for by the agency;
  • Information about the Francophone community served by the agency;
  • Performance in meeting the criteria and requirements of the Ministry of Francophone Affairs.

The tool is helpful in three ways:

  1. It allows agencies applying for designation to self-assess on criteria fulfillment by providing four (4) levels of performance;
  2. It then identifies which designation criteria and requirements need to be upgraded to progress further;
  3. Then, through a detailed designation action plan, it outlines targeted support based on results from the previous evaluation.

In addition, it provides helpful assistance in preparing the agency’s designation plan, and to some extent facilitates future evaluations of the application.

3.2 The “clauses” mechanism, or the compliance report, by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services

To implement Regulation 284/11 of the French Language Services Act29, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services have introduced a gradual step-by-step approach for developing French language services for all service providers receiving transfer payments. The approach provides for guidance and support at four different progress levels, based on an annual assessment of the capacity to offer services in French. The levels or clauses are:

  1. The “referral” clause ;
  2. Clause I (planning);
  3. Clause II ; and
  4. Clause III.

The “referral” clause is used for agencies that do not have the capacity to offer services in French or that are only starting the process of providing French language services. Clause 1 applies to agencies with a limited capacity to offer French language services. Clause 2 is for agencies that have the capacity to offer services in French. Clause 3 applies to agencies that have developed tools and have qualified staff to provide French language services.

Agencies use an Excel file to conduct an annual self-assessment of each service or program funded, and develop an action plan for improving capacity on the basis of the results achieved. For each clause or level, the topics covered by the assessment are:

  • Active offer;
  • Accountability mechanisms and management practices;
  • Active promotion of collaborating with the community and strategic planning.

The program supervisors in each region are responsible for coaching agencies and for checking on the progress being made under each clause. The decision to go forward with an application for designation is made voluntarily by agencies at the clause 2 or 3 stages, as they are required to have developed the ability to provide quality French language services. This mechanism is the preferred support tool for both Ministries. The advantage of this approach is that it allows each agency to gradually develop its ability to offer French language services with annual support from the program supervisors.

3.3 Statements of compliance as a formal assessment tool for designation

On January 1, 2014, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs established an evaluation framework30 for designated agencies through statements of compliance. Thus, every three years, designated agencies must submit the MFA “Agency designation Plan and Evaluation tool” including supporting documents and a resolution from their board of directors on the status of French language services. The instructions state that “any changes to French language services offered to clients must be accompanied by the relevant supporting documents.” However, Francophone agencies which operate exclusively in French (for a francophone clientele) are exempted from completing the evaluation tool but need to submit an attestation of designation form. The Ministry of Francophone Affairs developed this framework to be implemented by the Ministry responsible for each of the designated agencies. The first year for designated agencies to submit initial compliance reports was 2017.

4. Identification of the agencies

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care adopted an administrative procedure that consists of identifying health service providers for the provision of French language services. This procedure is not in the French Language Services Act, but is considered by government stakeholders to be a transitional or preparatory step towards designation. However, for the past 30 years, many agencies, including several specialized hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, have remained at this initial stage without ever applying for full or even partial designation for the programs and services for which they were identified.

4.1 Definition

Identification is the process by which the LHIN or before it, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, chooses a service provider to deliver specific services in French. The decision not only takes into consideration the location of Francophone communities, but also their health care needs, gaps in existing services, and the capacity of the identified service provider to deliver quality services in French. The LHIN consults the agencies concerned and the French Language Health Planning Entity, but ultimately, the LHIN is responsible for the decision to identify an agency.

4.2 Stakeholders and the identification process

Three players are involved in the identification process – the health service provider, the LHIN of that territory, and the French Language Health Planning Entity. There is no consistent province-wide process to identify an agency. Generally speaking. The LHINs currently use the Identifying Health Service Providers to Provide Services in French – A Guide for LHINs that was developed in August 2015. This document was also shared with the French Language Health Planning Entity. Following a recommendation from the French Language Health Planning Entity; the LHIN identifies a provider to offer specific French language services. Once the identification has been made official, the LHIN includes it in the accountability agreement that links it to this provider and informs the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Ministry of Francophone Affairs, that the agency in question has been identified. The success of this procedure depends on knowledge about agencies that are capable of providing services in French. Assessing this capability is the responsibility of the French Language Health Planning Entities, and it applies to all health care service providers in their respective territories.

4.3 Issues in identifying health agencies

The lack of accountability regarding identified services results in challenges in identifying health service providers. Although identified providers are required to produce an annual report on performance against commitments related to their identification, very few in fact comply with this requirement. Many identified agencies no longer know which services were identified. This has serious consequences for the provision of services in French. Moreover, the identified agency has no legal obligation under the French Language Services Act, thus preventing the public from using the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner’s complaint mechanism. It is now imperative that this shortcoming in the provision of French language services be dealt with through stricter controls over the commitments made by identified agencies through accountability agreements with their LHIN.

5. The role of government and community authorities in the designation process

Many government and community stakeholders are involved in the designation process. Generally speaking, they play a role in evaluating and supporting agencies applying for a designation.

5.1 The Ministry of Francophone Affairs

The Ministry of Francophone Affairs is key to the designation process in Ontario. It establishes the designation process under the French Language Services Act. Accordingly, it sets the designation criteria and requirements, provides the documentation needed by the various ministries regarding designation, conducts the final evaluation of the application and recommends the official designation of an agency to the Lieutenant Governor.31 The Ministry of Francophone Affairs also develops the evaluation framework for designated agencies to ensure compliance with designation requirements. Instructions from the Ministry of Francophone Affairs in this regard require the submission of supporting documents for the designation application..

5.2 Other ministries/French language services coordinators /Program supervisors

Section 13 of the French Language Services Act is very succinct about the roles and duties of French language services coordinators. It provides that a French language services coordinator be appointed for each ministry. It further provides that the Ministry of Francophone Affairs should coordinate a committee consisting of all the coordinators. It then states that each French language services coordinator is authorized to communicate directly with his or her deputy minister. Thus, it would seem logical and appropriate for these coordinators to play a leading role in the designation of agencies under the French Language Services Act.

Ministries are therefore partners in the designation process. In some instances, they support various agencies applying for designation through their French language services coordinators or their program supervisors. They provide agencies with information and details on designation criteria and requirements and sometimes make on-site visits to review human resources plans. As part of the designation process, they evaluate the application before forwarding it to the Ministry of Francophone Affairs.

5.3 Local Health Integration Networks

Since the adoption of the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006,32 the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care established 14 Local Health Integration Networks to to plan, fund, and integrate health services at the local level. The Patients First Act, 2016, amended LHSIA to expand the role and mandate of the LHINs to include management and delivery of home and community care services, formerly the function of Ontario’s fourteen Community Care Access Centres (CCACs), as well as planning for primary health care.

This entails that LHINs are responsible for ensuring that each service provider they fund complies with their commitments. They must also coordinate local and provincial initiatives to improve the health system. During the designation process, they work with the French language health planning entity to evaluate and approve applications for designation before forwarding them to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

5.4 French Language Health Planning Entities

In 2010, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care established six (6) French Language Health Planning Entities whose primary mandate was to make recommendations to the LHINs on all health matters affecting Francophones in a given region. As provided in Regulation 515/09, they advise the networks on:

3. (1) […]

  1. methods of engaging the Francophone community in the area;
  2. the health needs and priorities of the Francophone community in the area, including the needs and priorities of diverse groups within that community;
  3. the health services available to the Francophone community in the area;
  4. the identification and designation of health service providers for the provision of French language health services in the area;
  5. strategies to improve access to, accessibility of and integration of French language health services in the local health system; and
  6. the planning for and integration of health services in the area.33

In this capacity, the Entities support the agency identification process, by working with health system partners to provide advice to LHINs on the readiness of identified health service providers (HSPs) who applied for designation.

5.5 Office of the French Language Services Commissioner

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner ensures that designated agencies fulfill their commitments through its public complaints and service audit processes. It also proactively advises ministries and designated agencies on the implementation of contingency plans to prevent any gaps in designated services. These interventions are particularly appropriate in view of frequent mergers of agencies and mobility of French-speaking human resources.

Citizens can file a complaint with the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner at any time. The Commissioner has authority under the French Language Services Act to investigate and handle complaints, promote the quality of services and ensure citizens’ rights to French language services. The Commissioner may then contact the service provider’s complaints department or the regulatory body concerned and follow up on complaints received.

Designated agencies within the definition of the French Language Services Act are organizations that the Commissioner may investigate. This is also the case for LHINs, which meet the definition of a “government agency” under the Act.

The Commissioner’s primary role is to ensure that all stakeholders in the system shoulder their responsibilities in the provision of French language services which are integrated and meet the needs of French-speaking clients.

5.6 Francophone community organizations

Francophone organizations play an important role in the designation process because they are the primary beneficiaries of an agency’s designation. They support service providers that request designation by working with them in a variety of community engagement activities. They play an active role in the application process, as each agency applying for designation must provide letters from community organizations supporting the application.

II – The designation process: findings, issues, potential solutions and recommendations

This section presents issues identified following an analysis of the designation process as it currently stands. It is based on interviews conducted with stakeholders and agencies, and on an analysis of the quantitative data produced by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario. Six issues were identified. They affect the designation process and call for concerted action.

1. The value of designation

The first issue identified by stakeholders and service providers interviewed as part of this study was the value of designation. Designation must have an added-value if the concept is to be made attractive to agencies (service providers). Indeed, designating an agency gives it some prominence and underscores its commitment to lowering language barriers in the provision of services. It officialises the provision of quality French language services to the public.

Several studies, including a number in the health sector, have demonstrated the impact of reduced language barriers in establishing a quality therapeutic relationship and in enhancing client satisfaction.34 Far from constituting a risk factor for agencies that embark on the process, designation is a seal of quality that should be promoted by the government of Ontario because it demonstrates the agency’s willingness to improve the quality of the French language services it is offering. Moreover, as Raymond Breton demonstrated in his analysis of the symbolic importance of the designation in the SOS Montfort affair, designation contributes to the provision of comprehensive services to Ontario’s Francophone community because it plays a part in its vitality and survival.35 Lastly, because of the institutional security it provides, designation guarantees the government’s long-term support. However, interviews showed that few service providers understood designation from this standpoint and were never made fully aware of the benefits by their respective ministries. In addition, process shortcomings, in terms of time required for an evaluation and relevance of certain criteria, have made the idea less attractive.

Potential solution:

To address this shortcoming, the Government of Ontario could elevate designation to make it a “service quality seal” for all ministries and service suppliers that it funds. This action would make designation much more attractive to service providers and government agencies. Although this may not have been considered possible 30 years ago, this approach is now essential.

During interviews, some stakeholders and agencies mentioned and even complained about how little attention is given to the issuance of designation certificates, which, to some extent, is not commensurate with efforts made by an agency to obtain designation. The Ministry of Francophone Affairs should organize a public event when delivering a designation certificate. The determination and efforts of key stakeholders in achieving designation would then be officially recognized, and would give meaning to the process. Other partner agencies involved in the designation process, such as the planning entities and French language services coordinators, should maximize efforts in promoting and highlighting the benefits of designation for an agency as well as for Francophone communities.

“My agency has been designated since July 2015. My board of directors and I view designation as a factor that improves quality of the services we offer. We are totally dedicated to meeting all the criteria and requirements of our designation. Today, we have become an accessible centre that delivers quality services to all Francophone and Anglophone children and families in Cochrane and Temiskaming.”

Marie Rouleau, Executive Director of the Cochrane Temiskaming Children’s Treatment Centre.

Recommendation 1:

The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs take specific action to ensure that an agency’s designation under the French Language Services Act is valued, celebrated and acknowledged as a commitment to service quality for citizens of the province.

2. Designation criteria

The second issue raised by various stakeholders and agencies interviewed as part of this study was the designation criteria and requirements. Most interviewees referred to the difficulty of meeting some of the criteria, and to the systemic alignment gap between certain operational criteria and local realities. To properly understand the issues raised, the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario was asked to provide the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner (OFLSC) with the results of its evaluation of designated and identified agencies across five LHINs. This data was extracted from the Réseau’s assessment tool, which has been in use since 2014-2015. The OFLSC’s case is largely based on the Réseau’s analysis.

Analysis sample

There were 76 designated agencies and 73 identified agencies working in the health sector. These agencies submitted French language services’ reports to the LHIN with which they had an agreement in one of the last three years. The 76 designated agencies represent 71% of all currently designated health agencies in the province. The sample is therefore representative.

Data supplied by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario.

Identified

Designated

Total

Number

73

76

149

Method for calculating the designation criteria compliance rate

Data provided is self-assessed by the agencies, which can select from the following four status options to describe the French language services they provide:

  • “Completed”, which means that the HSP considers that it has met all the conditions for a given requirement. In this report, we considered that the requirement was met;
  • “In progress”, which means that action or activities are currently in progress to meet the requirement, but that they have not yet been completed;
  • “Deferred”, which means that the HSP has voluntarily postponed the work needed to meet a requirement;
  • “Not begun”, which means that the HSP has not performed the action or work needed to meet the requirement.

The compliance rate is calculated as a percentage of the 34 designation requirements considered to have been met. For example, an HSP that indicated completed status for 17 of the 34 requirements would have a compliance rate of 50%.

The compliance rate for a group (e.g. identified agencies) is the average of the compliance rates for each agency in the group or in a given region. The overall compliance rate is the average of the compliance rates for all agencies (identified and designated) which are part of the study.

Results

The table below lists compliance rates for identified and designated agencies, as well as the overall compliance rate for the five regions sampled.

Data supplied by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario.

Region

Compliance rate for identified agencies

Compliance rate for designated agencies

Overall compliance rate

Region 1

35.29%

N/A

Region 2

28.68%

91.18%

35.62%

Region 3

36.03%

N/A

36.03%

Region 4

29.64%

50.50%

44.85%

Region 5

22.68%

71.84%

47.89%

Total

27.12%

62.27%

45.05%

Based on the data supplied, compliance rates for identified HSPs vary from 22% to 35%, with an average of 27%, which can be explained by the fact that these agencies did not officially apply for designation, and did not have to meet all of the designation requirements.

Compliance rates for designated agencies varied from 51% to 91%, with an average of 62%. Given that the compliance rate for designated agencies should always be 100%, this score might be considered surprising. The Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario suggested that this divergence could be explained by changes or shifts in the health system. In other words, it could be the result of daily challenges that agencies must face. This data shows that even designated agencies have difficulty meeting and maintaining compliance with all 34 designation requirements.

What follows is an analysis of which compliance rates are highest and lowest for designated and identified agencies.

Requirements for which the compliance rates are highest and lowest for all agencies in the sample

Based on the results from the sample supplied, requirements pertaining to signage, visual identity, answering correspondence and active offer of services in French showed the highest levels of compliance for all agencies. On the other hand, those pertaining to human resources, i.e. the assessment of language proficiency in staff, Francophone representation on the board of directors, and contracts signed with third parties, were at the lowest levels of compliance for all designated and identified agencies. Specific issues related to human resources make it difficult to meet all the criteria and requirements. However, they are central to the delivery of French language services.

Data supplied by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario.

Requirements

Compliance rate (%)

4.2.3 A mechanism is in place to determine linguistic identity

68

4.3.9 French correspondence is answered in French

67

4.4.3 A senior manager is responsible for French language services (FLS)

66

4.3.2 Exterior signage is available in both languages

65

4.2.2 Reception and services are actively offered in French at each stage

61

4.3.5 French-speaking staff wear a badge

41

4.5.5 Language proficiency is assessed by an accredited firm

40

4.4.1 A report on the status of FLS is submitted to the board of directors each year

35

4.1.3 There is Francophone representation on the board and on board committees

31

4.2.6 Third-party contracts

30

Requirements for which compliance rates are highest and lowest for designated agencies
Data supplied by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario.

Requirements

Compliance rate (%)

4.2.2 Reception and services are actively offered in French at each stage

91

4.3.2 Exterior signage

91

4.3.3 Interior signage

91

4.3.9 French correspondence is answered in French

91

4.2.3 A mechanism is in place to determine linguistic identity

89

4.3.1 Website

59

4.3.5 French-speaking staff wear a badge

59

4.4.1 A report on the status of FLS is submitted to the board of directors each year

54

4.1.3 There is Francophone representation on the board and on board committees

51

4.2.6 Third-party contracts

49

Detailed analysis of the results for designated agencies again confirms that, generally speaking, the highest levels of compliance are reached with signage and visual identity, and the lowest pertain to human resources. These results corroborate the comments gathered during interviews. All of the stakeholders and agencies interviewed confirmed that the requirements for human resources, as well as those concerning Francophone representation on the board of directors and in senior management, are the most difficult to meet due to the high mobility of specialized bilingual staff, and challenges in recruiting Francophone employees.

Possible solution:

The Ministry of Francophone Affairs, in collaboration with stakeholders working in the field, should conduct an in-depth review of all designation criteria and requirements with a view to adapting them to the daily realities of providing French language services. For example, a re-evaluation of the criteria and requirements, particularly those related to human resources, should be done to adjust them to the challenging realities of recruiting and retaining French-speaking staff. This exercise should include developing contingency plans to mitigate impact on the public in the event of staff shortages. The certificate of compliance to be submitted by fully Francophone agencies should be accompanied by a detailed report describing the requirements met (the criteria are discussed below in section III – 2).

Recommendation 2:

The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs undertake a complete review of designation criteria and requirements to adapt them to the realities of providing French language services in all regions of Ontario in order to increase French language services.

3. Designation timelines

As mentioned in the previous section, the application process consists of a series of evaluations. However, no timelines have ever been established for each of these evaluations. In other words, an agency applying for designation has no idea of the timeline involved in obtaining it. Interviews conducted revealed that none of the designated agencies had any idea of how long it would take to obtain their designation prior to initiating the process. Some applications took more than 2 years to process. This absence of a timetable reduces the appeal of the process because it makes it very challenging for applicants to plan properly. Moreover, the designated agencies interviewed raised the lack of communication and updates on the status of their application. They fell into a black hole.

Potential solution:

In view of the resources and planning required to apply for designation, a more accurate timeline should be provided to applying agencies. The Ministry of Francophone Affairs could develop a timeline in collaboration with the other ministries that estimates the time required for each step in the process. As well, they could also agree on an ongoing communication plan to update agencies on the status of their application. This would make the process more attractive and make processing timelines more transparent. In fact, in these days of advanced technology and transparency, it would be possible to develop an Internet portal through which applicants could see the status of their application in real time.

Recommendation 3:

The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs establish a transparent and precise framework, with clearly identified stages and timelines, to guide and support agencies seeking designation throughout the entire process.

4. The role of designation stakeholders

Applying for designation involves several stakeholders, including support structures and various levels of accountability, responsible ministries along with the Ministry of Francophone Affairs. To some degree, all of them have a role to play in assessing designation applications. The number of stakeholders and evaluations may be a source of confusion for agencies applying for designation. Interviews revealed that several agencies had no idea which roles and responsibilities were held by the various stakeholders involved in the process. This lack of knowledge caused delays in a number of cases because applicants did not know precisely where to turn to for assistance with their application or who to speak to about developing French language services.

In his Annual Report 2008-2009, the Commissioner recommended that:

“The Office of Francophone Affairs (OFA) and the French Language Services coordinators can and must play a crucial role in developing programs and services that are adapted and delivered to Francophone communities across the province. These government resources may also play a determining role in finding innovative and effective methods for delivering the services that are required for the preservation and prosperity of Ontario’s Francophone communities.”36

The designation process is clearly an essential component of planning French language services and this role should be the responsibility of French language services coordinators.

Potential solution:

In collaboration with the appropriate stakeholders involved throughout the designation process, as well as the French language service coordinators from the various ministries, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs should prepare a guide for agencies applying for designation. The guide could include a description of the criteria, the time required to process an application, and a clear explanation of the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the application process. The guide could answer a number of questions applicants might have. The guide could also be used by all ministries and government agencies, such as the LHINs, for the steps involved in the designation process.

Recommendation 4:

The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs prepare a complete guide on designation.

5. Support prior to designation

The designation process requires the mobilization of considerable resources by the agencies that commit to it, including financial and human resources, which in some instances need to be entirely dedicated to preparing the application, meeting the criteria and requirements, and shepherding the application through the entire process. Meeting the designation criteria also requires a number of changes within applying agencies. Interviews showed that few organizations could afford the luxury of doing so. Financial constraints within the vast majority of these agencies make it difficult if not impossible to bring to bear the financial and human resources needed to prepare and follow through on a designation application, even a partial one.

Nearly all of the designated agencies received a certain amount of assistance in preparing their application. The data supplied by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario confirmed that those agencies which fully met designation requirements and criteria were precisely those that had received, and continue to receive, support in developing their capacity to deliver French language services, and with their designation application. The case of Kingston’s Hotel Dieu Hospital is remarkable because it was rapidly able to comply with many of the designation requirements, including bilingual public signage and the evaluation of the language proficiency of its staff thanks to non-recurring funding by the LHIN.

“Thanks to non-recurring funding from the southeast LHIN, we were able to make significant progress in developing French language services at Kingston’s Hotel Dieu Hospital. Even small budget allocations like these could help all regions in the province face the challenges of providing French language services in Ontario.”

Elizabeth Bardon, Vice President, Missions, Strategy & Communications, Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston.

Possible solution:

It is therefore essential for the ministries responsible for designating agencies, and the Ministry of Francophone Affairs, to develop a designation support framework in collaboration with partner organizations like French Language Health Planning Entities and LHINs. In view of the funds required to work through the application process, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs, and LHINs in the health sector, could make non-recurring funding available for applicants to cover some of the costs related to compliance, including signage and evaluating staff language proficiency.

Recommendation 5:

The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Francophone Affairs ensure that the ministries and other government agencies supporting a designation application within their respective sectors equip itself with the means required to financially support agencies applying for designation.

6. Evaluation of the designation process

Further to one of the recommendations from the 2011-2012 Commissioner’s report about the accountability of designated agencies, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs established an evaluation which requires ministries to verify the compliance of designated organizations every three years. It was not possible, in the context of this study, to access the assessment scales used to establish that framework. Moreover, it is worth noting that the evaluation of agencies that operate only in French for an exclusively Francophone clientele will not be as strict as other designated agencies. The various stakeholders interviewed agreed on the importance of a formal evaluation for all designated agencies.

However, they indicated that the three-year evaluation, in its current form, is in fact a repetition of the designation process, to the extent that they must submit all the documents that were filed when they applied for designation. For them, it is preferable that all designated agencies be subject to the same evaluation process. Indeed, the three-year nature of the current evaluation was identified as a possible concern when considering the maintenance of designated services. Some stakeholders felt that the period was too long and that it would be desirable to consider an annual evaluation instead.

Possible solution:

Designated agencies should be assessed every year. The Ministry of Francophone Affairs should also decentralize this process. In other words, ministries and accountability agencies, like the LHIN through their French language services coordinators, would be responsible for ensuring that the designated agencies meet their commitments. This assessment should be combined with the annual performance assessment of all their agencies. This would have the advantage of avoiding duplication, as this could be part of the annual evaluation. Every three years, the annual assessment reports should be sent to the Ministry of Francophone Affairs so that a compliance certificate can be issued to the designated agency.

The evaluation of designated agencies is a key factor in keeping the designation mechanism functioning properly. More than ever, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs and other ministries need to rigorously ensure that the evaluation framework guarantees the quality of French language services by ensuring that designated service providers comply with their agreements.

Recommendation 6:

The Commissioner recommends that Ministry of Francophone Affairs ensure that the government ministries and agencies assess, annually, the performance of designated agencies pursuant to the French Language Services Act. It is also recommended that every three years, the assessment reports be sent to the Ministry of Francophone Affairs for the issuance of a compliance certificate.

III – Proposed solutions for a designation system THAT addresses issues in providing services to the public

This section describes two changes that should be made to the current designation application process in order to adapt it to current circumstances. The recommended changes are also in response to challenges and possible solutions listed in the previous section.

1. Designation renewal by means of an improved process

The designation of agencies is a key mechanism for increasing and spreading French language services in Ontario. The Ministry of Francophone Affairs, which is responsible for this mechanism, started a working group whose role was to review existing criteria and requirements and develop a new evaluation framework. However, despite the Ministry’s goodwill in achieving this, several persistent shortcomings have affected the entire process.

Interviews conducted as part of this study demonstrated the relevance of designation, but also the need to modernize it and adapt it to the challenges of providing French language services in Ontario. The modernization process should address:

  • Promoting the value of designation.
  • Reviewing and adopting designation criteria and requirements.
  • Establishing application timelines and a mechanism for providing applicants with updates on the status of their applications.
  • Formalizing the designation support process.
  • Clarification of post-designation evaluation mechanisms.

The process should begin by establishing a working group of stakeholders and service providers whose mandate would be to quickly come up with a new designation process which gives due consideration to the issues and possible solutions raised in this study. It is essential to make these adjustments to the designation process if it is to properly identify and address the challenges of providing French language services to citizens in Ontario.

2. Making partial designation truly partial

Section 9 (1) of the French Language Services Act provides that: “A regulation designating a public service agency may limit the designation to apply only in respect of specified services provided by the agency, or may specify services that are excluded from the designation.” In other words, an agency’s designation may be limited to a specific service or program. This means partial designation, because it does not cover all the services available from the agency in question.

In practice, however, partial designation is limited only in name because an agency that wishes to designate one of its programs or services must meet the same 5 criteria and 34 requirements as an agency applying for full designation. This imbalance in the process was raised by many of the stakeholders and service providers who were interviewed.

This inconsistency in the application of all 34 requirements for partial designation is particularly incompatible with the structure and environment of agencies in central and southwestern Ontario, where most of the community, health and social service providers in the province are located, and where full designation would be difficult if not impossible in view of their organizational complexity and the shortcomings of the current process as listed in this study. For example, it would be very difficult for Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, which has 26 sites and 3,000 employees, to apply for even partial designation for one of its cancer treatment programs when it would have to meet all of the 34 requirements and 5 criteria.

Instead, it would be desirable to come up with a truly limited form of designation in which agencies could comply with reviewed and limited criteria established based on the kinds of services that would be provided to the public. This would have the advantage of ensuring that the specific service or program to be provided in French, in terms of physical and human resources, could be sustained over the long-term without completely changing the organizational structure. Many of the executive directors of agencies interviewed regarding this study underlined that they would be interested in applying for partial designation of a specific program or service for which they had, or were willing to develop, the capacity to provide services in French.

“The possibility of obtaining partial designation on the basis of criteria aimed at improving patient services would be an opportunity for Women’s College Hospital to consider programs that it might be able to offer in French. It would obviously be easier to obtain designation for specific programs rather than for the entire hospital. It could expand French language health services.”

Dr. Danielle Martin, Vice-President Medical Affairs and Health System Solutions, Women’s College, Toronto.

Potential solution:
  • Partial designation

The Ministry of Francophone Affairs needs to convert the limited or partial designation status provided for in the French Language Services Act into a true form of partial designation by aligning the designation criteria and requirements with the limited nature of such applications.

There would accordingly be two types of designation:

  • Complete or full designation
  • Limited or partial designation

An agency applying for complete or full designation would have to meet all five (5) of the designation criteria and 34 requirements currently required as part of the process. But an agency applying for partial designation would have to meet a smaller number of requirements and criteria established on the basis of their capacity to truly increase French language services to the public.

The Ministry of Francophone affairs should consider establishing criteria and requirements which could apply to partial designation and full designation. In identifying criteria and requirements for these two forms of designation, it would be essential to determine which requirements and criteria would be most appropriate for the permanency and quality of French language services. According to the study carried out by the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario, the five requirements with the highest rate of compliance should be considered, in addition to requirements 4.1.4 and 4.4.1 on governance and criterion 1 (requirements 4.5.1 to 4.5.8) for each specific designated program. These requirements would constitute a good starting point for discussion.37

Options to consider for the criteria and requirements of a partial designation

Criteria

Statut

The agency must offer quality services in French on a permanent basis, which is ensured by employees with requisite French language skills. (See Requirements 4.5.1 – 4.5.8).

Mandatory for the designated service or program

The board of directors and the senior management team must be accountable with respect to the quality of French language services.

Mandatory for the designated service or program

Requirements

Statut

Access to services must be guaranteed and follow the principle of active offer (see requirements 4.2 – 4.3)

Mandatory for the designated service or program

4.1.4. A statement describing the responsibilities of the board of directors and the senior management team with respect to French language services

Mandatory for the designated service or program

4.2.2. The reception and services, at the time of initial greeting and at each subsequent point of contact, are actively offered in French.

Mandatory at reception / Mandatory for the designated service or program

4.2.3. A mechanism is in place to determine the linguistic identity of the client from the very first point of contact.

Mandatory at reception / Mandatory for the designated service or program

4.3. Visual identity and communication. (All requirements)

Mandatory at reception / Mandatory for the designated service or program /

4.4.1. A report on the status of French language services is submitted annually to the board of directors for approval.

Mandatory at reception / Mandatory for the designated service or program

4.5. The human resources policy incorporates specifics measures and mechanisms concerning. (All requirements)

Mandatory at reception / Mandatory for the designated service or program /

One of the consequences of this change would be that a number of agencies which have been identified for many years could proceed with a partial designation for one or more of their programs and services. Compliance plans with new requirements and criteria could lead to the permanence of certain French language services. In the health sector, a referral/navigation service for these identified services could be introduced by the planning entities in collaboration with the LHINs to make them accessible to the Francophone population of that particular region.

In an increasingly complex organizational context, it is essential to facilitate partial designations to speed up effective access to the French language services and programs needed by Francophone communities.

Partial designation recommended for the health sector

To facilitate the effective implementation of this new partial form of designation within the health sector, the Commissioner recommends an administrative obligation be created between identification and the new partial designation. In other words, an agency’s identification would automatically lead to its acquiring partial designation status in the future.

According to Regulation 515/09, French Language Health Planning Entities should work with the LHINs to determine the capacity of health service providers to offer services in French in each of their territories. Moreover, each provider is to receive support from its French Language Health Planning Entity to develop or improve capacity to offer French language services. Those providers that have had such support are then officially identified by their LHIN on the recommendation of the French Language Health Planning Entity.

This official identification of a service provider would then be followed by an application for partial designation within a time period determined by all parties involved in the process, but in any event not exceeding 3 years. This requirement to proceed with partial designation should be included in accountability agreements with the LHIN.

If a LHIN were to decide not to act on the recommendation of a French Language Health Planning Entity with respect to an official identification leading to partial designation, then justification for this decision would have to be submitted in writing.

French Language Health Planning Entities, LHINs and health services providers would work together to prepare partial designation applications for submission to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and then to the Ministry of Francophone Affairs for its evaluation and approval. While awaiting partial designation, health service providers would remain identified agencies which must comply with the clauses pertaining to the provision of French language services currently in their accountability agreement with their LHIN. No amendments to the French Language Services Act are required.

“Providing long-term care in French to Francophone seniors and other vulnerable residents of Pavillon Omer Deslauriers requires an ongoing commitment to retaining our bilingual staff and ensuring that our French language services are well known within the community.”

Margaret Aerola, Executive Director, Bendale Acres Long-Term Care Nursing Home, Toronto.

Recommendation 7:

The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care allow LHINs to work together with their French Language Health Planning Entities to identify health services providers which should, within three years or less, obtain partial designation under the French Language Service Act.

IV – Conclusion

The designation process pursuant to the French Language Services Act contributes to increasing the quality of French language services. And yet, more than 30 years after its introduction, this key mechanism appears to be running out of steam. In view of the recommendations made by the Commissioner in his 10th Annual Report, it would appear essential to carry out an in-depth analysis of why this may be the case, and at the same time explore possible ways of modernizing it. Many shortcomings in the current process have made it less attractive to service providers, and consequently have limited the availability of French language services. This is partly the result of the government’s failure to promote and value it, the absence of a timeline for processing applications, the disparity in support provided to agencies wishing to obtain a designation, and the flawed accountability mechanism for designated agencies. It is also clearly necessary to analyse the issues and challenges posed by the “identified” status of health agencies.

This study offers pragmatic solutions to each of the known shortcomings within the designation process with the objective not only to increase the number of designated agencies in the province, but also to significantly expand the availability of French language services and programs in many fields.

Considering the far-reaching changes being made in the services provided to Ontarians, it has become absolutely essential for the government to modernize the designation mechanism to ensure that it is aligned with the expectations and needs of Ontario’s Francophone populations.

1 French Language Services Act, RSO 1990, c F.32 (“French Language Services Act”).

2 Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Annual Report 2011-2012: Straight Forward (“Annual Report 2011-2012”), http://csfontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FLSC_annual_report_2011_2012.pdf, p. 14.

3 In the health field, for example, few specialized health service providers in the Greater Toronto Area have applied for designation.

4 The interviews conducted during this study confirmed this lack of support following designation.

5 Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Annual Report 2007-2008: Paving the Way, http://csfontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/FLSC_AnnualReport_0708.pdf, p. 13.

6 Annual Report 2011-2012,p. 4.

7 Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Annual Report 2016-2017: Taking a Stand, http://csfontario.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/OFLSC_Annual-Report-2016-ENG_Final-version_-2017-06-07_Secured.pdf, p. 25.

8 https://www.ontario.ca/page/september-2016-mandate-letter-francophone-affairs (page consulted in October 2017).

9 Designation of Public Service Agencies, O. Reg 398/93 (“Regulation 398/93”).

10 The Ministry of Francophone Affairs issued instructions specifying 5 criteria and 34 requirements that must be met to obtain designated agency status under the French Language Services Act (Appendix 2).

11 See Lalonde v. Ontario (Commission de restructuration des services de santé), 2001 CanLII 21164 (ONCA), paras 127-187, (“Lalonde v Ontario, ONCA”).

12 French Language Services Act, s. 1.

13 French Language Services Act, s. 1.

14 http://www.rssfe.on.ca/en/our-priorities/supporting-designation/what-is-designation/ (page consulted in September 2017).

15 https://www.ontario.ca/page/government-services-french (page consulted in July 2017).

16 Lalonde v Ontario, ONCA, para 127.

17 Identification will be discussed in section 4 of this study.

18 http://rssfe.on.ca/upload-ck/guide_designation_2013.pdf, p. 10 (page consulted in September 2017).

19 http://rssfe.on.ca/upload-ck/guide_designation_2013.pdf, p. 11 (page consulted in September 2017).

20 The matter of identification will be discussed in section 4.

21 It may be at Clause 2 or 3 in the Ministry of Children and Youth Services system, which tracks agencies’ progress in their capacity to provide French language services. The clauses mechanism will be described in section 3.

22 Several ministries (such as the Attorney General and Education) have no support or accountability structure. In such instances, once the application has been completed, it is forwarded to the funding ministry for evaluation and approval.

23 Refer to the brief from the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner to the Minister of Francophone Affairs concerning the revision of Regulation 398/93 and the revocation of the Hôpital général de Penetanguishene’s designation. See Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Brief concerning the revision of Ontario Regulation 398/93 and revocation of the designation of Penetanguishene General Hospital, August 2017.

24 French Language Services Act, section 7.

25 The Ontario Court of Appeal pointed out in Lalonde v. Ontario, ONCA that in Section 7 of the French Language Services Act the word “necessary” implies that existing services can only be limited when this is “the only course of action that can be taken.” and that “Although it is impossible to specify precisely what is encompassed by the words “reasonable and necessary” and “all reasonable measures”, at a minimum they require some justification or explanation for the directions limiting the rights of Francophones to benefit from Montfort as a community hospital.” See Lalonde v. Ontario, ONCA, at para. 164.

26 French Language Services Act, section 10.

27 The Court of Appeal has stated in Lalonde v. Ontario, ONCA that the mere fact of ordering the agency that will be taking on the services to apply for designation does not constitute a “reasonable measure” within the meaning of section 7. The government cannot limit its action to making arbitrary regulatory amendments. Indeed, the Court emphasized that the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor with respect to regulation is not absolute in matters of linguistic rights. Moreover, to limit services offered in French “it cannot simply invoke administrative convenience and vague funding concerns” any downgrading of linguistic rights may be subject to review, based not only on compliance with the act, but also on the unwritten constitutional principle of protecting minorities (at paras 167-168).

28 http://www.rssfe.on.ca/ressources/boites-a-outils-designation/ (page consulted in July 2017).

29 Provision of French Language Services on behalf of Government Agencies, O. Reg 284/11 (“Regulation 284/11”).

30 See appendix 2.

31 Paragraphs 12(1)(b) and (c) are particularly edifying:
(b) recommend the designation of public service agencies and the addition of designated areas to the Schedule;
(c) require non-profit corporations and similar entities, facilities, homes and colleges referred to in the definition of “government agency” to furnish to the Office information that may be relevant in the formulation of recommendations respecting their designation as public service agencies.

32 Local Health System Integration Act, 2006, SO 2006, c 4.

33 Engagement with the Francophone Community Under Section 16 of the Act, O. Reg. 515/09, s. 3 (1) (“Regulation 515/09”).

34 Green, A. (2007), “The impact of Language Barriers on Health Care,” 3e Rendez-vous Santé en français, Faire la différence ; Woloshin et al. (1997), “Is Language a barrier to the use of preventive services”, Journal of General Internal medicine, volume 12, pp. 472-477; Bauer, A. M., & Alegria, M. (2010), “Impact of patient language proficiency and interpreter service use on the quality of psychiatric care: A systematic review,”Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), 61(8), 765-773, http://rssfe.on.ca/upload-ck/Les-services-de-sant%C3%A9-en-francais-un-facteur-de-qualite-29oct2012.pdf (page consulted in September 2017).

35 Raymond Breton, “Institutional Completeness of Ethnic Communities and the Personal Relations of Immigrants,” American Journal of Sociology, 70, 2, 1964, pp.193-205.

36 Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Annual Report 2008-2009: One Voice, Many Changes (“Annual Report 2008-2009”), p. 18.

37 The compliance criteria and requirements are available on Appendix 2.

V – Appendices

APPENDIX 1 – Report of the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario

Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario

Preliminary Overview of Compliance to Designation Criteria within the Health Care System

Report for the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario

Prepared by Jean-François Pagé and Ghislain Sangwa-Lugoma

September 15, 2017
www.rssfe.on.ca

Table of contents

  1. Background
  2. Methodology

    1. Collection of data on French language services
    2. Data used
    3. Samples used
    4. Calculation of compliance rates
  3. Results

    1. Compliance with designation requirements
    2. Percentage of designated HSPs that meet the criteria
    3. Highest and lowest compliance rates
    4. Yearly progression of compliance rate
    5. Factors that affect compliance rate progress
    6. Specific case: Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston
  4. Final comments
  5. Appendices

A- Background

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is preparing a special report on designation in Ontario under the French Language Services Act. For this purpose, it requested the collaboration of the Réseau to obtain data on compliance with designation requirements, the status of designation, the most and least met requirements, and factors that contributed the most to progress made by French language health service providers (HSPs) in recent years.

The French Language Health Services Network of Eastern Ontario (the Réseau) is a not-for-profit Francophone organization that engages the Francophone community in all its diversity as well as the healthcare community to improve the active offer and access to a continuum of quality health care services in French. Over the past few years, the Réseau has developed an information collection and analysis tool (known as OZi), which can be used to support organizations involved in developing and maintaining their designation, and to compile information about these organizations. This tool, designed to be used by identified and designated HSPs, is based on the designation plan and its 34 compliance requirements.

B- Methodology

1. Collection of data on French language services

Data was collected using the French language services report template developed by the Réseau for identified and designated HSPs. This report provides information about progress being made in meeting designation requirements, on the methods used by providers to meet the needs of their Francophone clients, and on staff who are proficient in French.

The French language services (FLS) report is one of the requirements in the accountability agreements between the LHINs and the HSPs. HSPs who requested it received support from the Planning Entity during the data collection process.The data collected consisted of information self-reported by the HSPs on the status of French language services within the organization. The data were afterwards reviewed by the Entity’s planning agents.

2. Data used

These data was collected using the template developed by the Réseau. The template was gradually deployed in five regions, from 2014-2015 to 2016-2017 in this report. Table 1 summarizes the number of identified or designated HSPs that submitted their French language services reports by means of this template over the past three years. Twelve HSPs used the template in 2014- 2015, and by 2016-2017, this number had reached 149. Of these 149 HSPs, the number of designated HSPs was approximately the same as the number of identified HSPs.


Table 1: Identified or designated HSPs that submitted their French language services report using the Réseau’s template.

Year

Number of identified HSPs

Number of designated HSPs

Total

2014-2015

12

0

12

2015-2016

35

35

70

2016-2017

73

76

149

The compliance rates were based on the most recent data. The French language services reports were submitted in the spring of 2016 or 2017, depending on the regions. For the analyses of annual compliance progress, the data came from the reports submitted in the spring of 2016 and 2017.

3. Samples used

The total number of identified and designated HSPs in the five regions surveyed was 170. The table below summarizes the total breakdown of HSPs by designation status.


Table 2: Distribution and sample of HSPs by designation status in the five regions surveyed.

Identified HSPs

Designated HSPs

Total

Eligible HSPs

92

78

170

HSPs sampled

73

76

149

The sample used represents 88% (149/170) of the HSPs involved in the designation process in the five regions. Furthermore, according to the French Language Services Regulations, 107 of the 243 agencies currently designated in the province (for all ministries) carry out operations on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The sample of organizations included in this report consists of HSPs that submitted their FLS reports to the LHINs during the years under review. There were 73 identified HSPs and 76 designated HSPs working on behalf of the Ministry. The 76 designated agencies in this report thus represent 71% (76/107) of currently designated health agencies in the province.

4. Calculation of compliance rates

When completing their reports, the HSPs are required to identify, to the best of their knowledge, the status of each of the 34 designation requirements (section 4 of the designation plan). To ensure a mutual or standardized understanding of what is expected for each requirement, fact sheets were provided for each requirement.

HSPs could identify the state of advancement of each requirement by choosing one of the following responses:

  1. “Completed”, when the HSP considers that it has met all the conditions for a given requirement. In this report, we considered that such a requirement was met ;
  2. “In progress”, when action or activities are currently in progress to meet the requirement, but that they have not yet been completed.
  3. “Deferred”, when the HSP has voluntarily postponed the work needed to meet a requirement.
  4. “Not started”, when the HSP has not performed the action or work needed to meet the requirement.

Accordingly, the percentage of the 34 designation requirements considered to have been met by an HSP was used to establish that HSP's compliance rate. For example, an HSP which indicated a “completed” status for 17 of the 34 requirements would have a compliance rate of 50%. The compliance rate for a group (e.g. the identified HSPs) is the average of the compliance rates for each HSP in this group or in a given region. The overall compliance rate is the average of the compliance rates for all HSPs (identified and designated) studied.

C- Results

1. Compliance with designation requirements

The table below lists the compliance rates for identified and designated HSPs, as well as the overall compliance rate for the 149 HSPs in the five regions sampled.


Table 3: HSP compliance rates by designation status and by region

Regions

Compliance rates for identified HSPs

Compliance rates for designated HSPs

Overall compliance rate

Region 1

35%

N/A

35%

Region 2

29%

91%

36%

Region 3

36%

N/A

36%

Region 4

30%

51%

45%

Region 5

23%

72%

48%

Total

27%

62%

45%

The compliance rates for identified HSPs varied from 22% to 35% (average: 27%). Measuring this rate over time can provide information about an identified HSP's progress towards designation.

The compliance rates for designated HSPs varied from 51% to 91% (average: 62%). These compliance rates for designated HSPs can provide information about the capacity for the HSPs to continue to comply with the requirements over time, and to cope with the pressures and changes within the health system. Measuring these rates regularly could identify a reasonable range within which designated HSPs could operate. Ideally, the compliance rate for designated HSPs should always be 100%.

The overall compliance rate varied from 35% to 48% (average: 45%). This rate gives an overview of compliance by all providers involved in the designation process (identified and designated). Measuring the overall compliance rate over time could accordingly provide a Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) with information about the overall progress being made in achieving this objective for its region.

Charts 1 and 2 show the HSP compliance rates by region and by designation status.

Chart 1

Chart 1: Regional distribution of compliance rates

Chart 2

Chart 2: Distribution of compliance rates by designated status

2. Percentage of designated HSPs that meet the criteria

Chart 3 shows the distribution of designated HSPs by compliance rate (distribution of compliance rates for the 76 Designated HSPs, in four segments). In 66% of instances, the compliance rates for these HSPs are in the 75-100% segment. In 7%, 8% and 20% of cases, the reported compliance rates are, respectively, in the 0-25%, 25-50% and 50 to 75% segments.

Chart 3

Chart 3: Compliance rates for the 76 designated HSPs

Table 4 shows that 52% of HSPs in the 75% to 100% segment have a compliance rate between 70% and 90%, while 48% of them have a compliance rate higher than 90%.


Table 4: Distribution of compliance rates for designated HSPs whose rates are above 75%

Compliance rate (%)

Segment

Number of HSPs

% within the segment of HSPs whose compliance rate is 75-100%

(N=50)

% in comparison to all HSPs (N=76)

75% to 100%

75% to 89.9%

26

52%

34%(26/76)

90 % to 99.9%

12

24%

16%(12/76)

100%

12

24%

16% (12/76)

Total

50

100%

66% (50/76)

3. Highest and lowest compliance rates

Table 5 shows the five requirements for which the reported compliance rates are highest (in green) and lowest (in red) for all HSPs. The detailed list of compliance rates for all 34 requirements is shown in Appendix 1.


Table 5: Requirements for which the compliance rates are highest and lowest for all HSPs

Requirements

Compliance rate (%)

4.2.3 – A mechanism is in place to determine linguistic identity

68

4.3.9 – French correspondence is answered in French

67

4.4.3 – A senior manager is responsible for French language services (FLS)

66

4.3.2 – Exterior signage is available in both languages

65

4.2.2 – Reception and services are actively offered in French at each stage

61

4.3.5 – French-speaking staff wear a badge

41

4.5.5 – Language proficiency is assessed by an accredited firm

40

4.4.1 – A report on the status of FLS is submitted to the board of directors each year

35

4.1.3 – There is Francophone representation on the board and on board committees

31

4.2.6 – Contracts are signed with third parties

30

Table 6 lists the five requirements for which the reported compliance rates are highest (in green) and lowest (in red) for identified HSPs. The complete list of compliance rates for all 34 requirements is shown in Appendix II.


Table 6: Requirements for which the compliance rates are highest and lowest for identified HSPs

Requirements

Compliance rate (%)

4.4.03 – A senior manager is responsible for French language services (FLS)

49

4.2.03 – A mechanism is in place to determine linguistic identity

47

4.3.09 – French correspondence is answered in French

44

4.3.02 – Exterior signage

38

4.3.07 – Letterheads on correspondence

36

4.2.07 – A mechanism has been identified to support resolution of complaints/issues pertaining to the delivery of FLS

12

4.5.02 – Number of designated positions has been identified

12

4.5.05 – Language proficiency is assessed by an accredited firm

12

4.1.03 – There is Francophone representation on the board and on board committees

11

4.2.06 – Contracts are signed with third parties

10

Table 7 lists the five requirements for which the reported compliance rates are highest (in green) and lowest (in red) for designated HSPs. The complete list of compliance rates for all 34 requirements is shown in Appendix III.


Table 7: Requirements for which the compliance rates are highest and lowest for designated HSPs

Requirements

Compliance rate (%)

4.2.02 – Reception and services are actively offered in French at each stage

91

4.3.02 – Exterior signage is available in both languages

91

4.3.03 – Interior signage

91

4.3.09 – French correspondence is answered in French

91

4.2.03 – A mechanism is in place to determine linguistic identity

89

4.3.01 – Website

59

4.3.05 – French-speaking staff wear a badge

59

4.4.1 – A report on the status of FLS is submitted to the board of directors each year

54

4.1.3 – There is Francophone representation on the board and on board committees

51

4.2.6 – Contracts are signed with third parties

49

4. Yearly progression of compliance rate

Over the past few years, the Réseau’s tools have been deployed at various times in different regions. This limits the ability to provide analyses over several years. However, we can analyze yearly progress of the compliance rate, and the variation in this rate by HSP based on a sample of 21 HSPs. These 21 HSPs are located in regions where the Francophone population represents less than 5% of the overall population, and 20 of the 21 HSPs are identified HSPs.

Chart 4 shows annual progress in the compliance rate for the 21 HSPs between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.

Chart 4

Chart 4: Compliance rates for the 21 HSPs in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017

Over a period of a year, the compliance rate increased by 11.34%. We also observed that an identified HSP in a very small minority region tends to progress more slowly than in a region where there is a stronger Francophone presence. It would therefore be interesting to compare the compliance rate progress from region to region in order to better identify what we might consider to be a reasonable rate of annual progress for a specific region. We also acknowledge that several factors can affect progress and have provided a number of examples of this in the next section.

Chart 5 shows the variance in compliance rates for each of the 21 HSPs.

Chart 5

Chart 5: Compliance rate variance by HSP (N=21)

5. Factors that affect compliance rate progress

This section brings together the Réseau's observations concerning the factors that might affect progress in the compliance rate of an HSP involved in the designation process. These observations are based on the Réseau's experience in supporting and evaluating identified and designated HSP compliance, the Réseau's discussions with HSPs and those providing support or assistance in other regions during the implementation of OZi, and analysis of data gathered in recent years. These observations all led to the identification of five major factors (listed below):

Use of Réseau tools

The Réseau tools for HSPs were designed to structure the process of developing, updating and maintaining the designation plan. Our observations showed that the plan enabled the HSPs to better understand the objectives and expectations pertaining to designation, to more effectively plan the tasks to be performed, and to reduce the ambiguity and complexity of these tasks. Moreover, the HSPs greatly appreciated the immediate feedback they received about their progress.

Involvement of senior management and governance

We found that the involvement of senior management and governance appears to be a determining factor in working towards and achieving designation. When they endorse the development of the designation plan, and closely monitor advancement and the extent to which compliance is being maintained, progress is faster.

Support by the Entity

Assistance to HSPs provides them with support and expertise in dealing with the designation process. This can take a variety of forms, depending on the needs of the HSP, who often indicate their appreciation of this support. From the point of view of those providing the assistance, support can improve the efficiency of the process by guiding the HSPs towards solutions or options that are suited to their needs. This adaptability allows for the introduction of more effective and more sustainable measures by the HSP.

Stricter accountability

When LHINs recognize the relevance of designation and include it as a local condition within the HSP accountability agreements, it has a positive impact on rapid and steady progress towards achieving designation status.

From awareness to action

When an identified HSP is beginning to develop a designation plan, there is a period during which the HSP learns more about the concept of French language services, and the fundamental nature of designation. During this learning period, the identified HSP does not accomplish much concrete work towards meeting the designation criteria and progress comes to a standstill. When the four previous factors are combined, HSPs seem to more quickly grasp the concepts that enable them to structure designation as a project. In these instances, we generally saw some progress.

6. Specific case: Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston

Chart 6 illustrates progress made in terms of achieving the 34 requirements towards designation at Hotel Dieu Hospital over the past three years.

Chart 6

Chart 6: Progress in status of designation requirements at Kingston Hotel Dieu Hospital

The above chart illustrates progress. The compliance rate (shown in green for "completed" requirements) increased each year. The chart also shows a considerable drop in the number of requirements that have not yet been addressed and an increase in the number of requirements “in progress”.

The number of requirements whose status is “deferred” also remained low. This shows that Hotel Dieu has structured its approach to meet the designation requirements and has made progress at several levels, as illustrated in Appendix IV (which lists the requirements and the respective level of progress being made for each requirement).

D- Final comments

Implementing designation at the regional level means attempting to target, develop and maintain a range of services provided in French in order to provide the Francophone population with equitable access to health services.

The compliance rates observed in this report provide an overview of the capacity of HSPs to meet the designation criteria. Variations in these rates illustrate the potential impact of the factors listed on page 14.

Although only preliminary, we believe that the findings in this report provide a representative overview of the realities of the health care designation process in the province, and a description of some of the factors that can affect its development.

The implementation of OZi gives us ways to stimulate ideas and enhance decision making in ways that can improve designation, the active offer of French language services, and access to FLS for Ontario's Francophone community.

E- Appendices

Appendix I: Distribution of compliance rates with designation requirements for all HSPs

Appendix I

Appendix II: Distribution of compliance rates with designation requirements for identified HSPs

Appendix II

Appendix III: Distribution of compliance rates with designation requirements for designated HSPs

Appendix III

Appendix IV: Status of each designation requirement at Hotel Dieu Hospital in July 2017

Requirements for Compliance

Status

4.1 The following elements are incorporated in the agency’s administrative bylaws

4.1.1 A detailed statement on the delivery of French language services (FLS)

In progress

4.1.2 The existence of a policy and a committee on FLS

In progress

4.1.3 There is Francophone representation on the board and on board committees

In progress

4.1.4 Accountability statement for board and senior management

Completed

4.2 Direct client services

4.2.1 Telephone services are actively offered in French

In progress

4.2.2 Reception and services are actively offered in French at each stage

In progress

4.2.3 A mechanism is in place to determine linguistic identity

Completed

4.2.4 Professionals responsible for treatment at the agency are proficient in French

Not started

4.2.5 Volunteer services within the agency are actively offered in French

In progress

4.2.6 Contracts signed with third parties

In progress

4.2.7 A mechanism has been identified to support resolution of complaints/issues pertaining to the delivery of FLS

In progress

4.3 Visual identity and communications

4.3.1 Website

Completed

4.3.2 The exterior signage

Completed

4.3.3 The interior signage

In progress

4.3.4 Admission forms and other documents

Not started

4.3.5 Employees who are proficient in French wear tags

Completed

4.3.6 Business cards

Completed

4.3.7 The letterhead on the correspondence

Deferred

4.3.8 Communications and publications intended for the public

In progress

4.3.9 The agency responds in French to correspondence received in French.

Completed

4.3.10 A mechanism is in place to translate and correct documents in French intended for the public

Completed

4.3.11 The agency implements the necessary tools and software required for quality communication in French

Completed

4.4 Governance and Accountability

4.4.1 A report on the status of FLS is submitted annually to the board of directors for approval

In progress

4.4.2 There is effective representation of Francophones within the senior management team

Deferred

4.4.3 A senior manager has been designated to assume responsibility for the delivery of FLS

Completed

4.4.4 A mechanism has been put in place to manage complaints concerning FLS

Completed

4.5 Human resources policies

4.5.1 Staffing of personnel proficient in French

In progress

4.5.2 Identifying the number of positions designated

In progress

4.5.3 Identification of the linguistic profile required for each position

In progress

4.5.4 Recruitment of employees proficient in French

In progress

4.5.5 Evaluation of the oral and written French skills of candidates by accredited language assessment services

In progress

4.5.6 Hiring of personnel proficient in French

In progress

4.5.7 An offer of training for employees who do not meet the linguistic requirements for the position

In progress

4.5.8 Human Resources Plan

In progress

APPENDIX 2 – Designation forms from the Ministry of Francophone Affairs

Agency Designation Plan and Evaluation Tool

Introduction and Implementation

New Requests for Designation

Evaluation of existing designated agencies

The designation plan is a tool which is made available to agencies that receive transfer payments from the government of Ontario and wish to obtain official designation under the French Language Services Act or expand their existing designation to cover additional services or ministries. This designation constitutes legal recognition which the provincial government uses to confirm an agency’s ability to offer all or some public services in French, in accordance with the criteria established by the Office of Francophone Affairs (OFA).

Please complete the form by inserting the requested information, except in the section marked with “evaluation only”. The proposal, approved by your board of directors, must be accompanied by a letter confirming the agency’s intention to obtain official designation and indicating that all relevant services and communications for which the agency would like to obtain official designation are available on a permanent basis. The required human resources plan and documents are intended to support the application for designation.

This plan must be submitted to the ministry or ministries which provide funding for the agency, where it will be reviewed before it is forwarded to the Office of Francophone Affairs, which will undertake the process of making legislative amendments to reflect designations twice a year, i.e., in the spring and in the fall. Before you start to complete the form, please contact a representative at your ministry for additional information.

Designated agencies under the French Language Services Act are required to complete and submit this evaluation tool, including the human resources plan and other supporting documents, every three years, in accordance with the schedules established by the sponsoring ministry or ministries, in order to confirm compliance with the requirements for designation. Any changes to French language services offered to clients must be accompanied by the relevant supporting documents.

Please complete the form by inserting the requested information, except in those sections marked with “new designation only”. The form must also be submitted with a resolution by your board of directors, attesting that the agency has remained compliant with the criteria for designation and that the board of directors and senior management team are aware of the legal consequences of submitting a false attestation, including the possibility of having complaints filed with the French Language Services Commissioner.

This evaluation tool must be submitted to the ministry or ministries which provide funding to the agency. Before you start to complete the form, please contact a representative at your ministry for additional information.

Partial exemption from requirements

New Requests for Designation

Evaluation of existing designated agencies

Agencies which operate exclusively in French and serve a clientele that is fully Francophone can request to obtain an exemption from completing all sections of the form. In this case, please submit a supporting document for consideration by the ministry, explaining why you did not respond to all of the questions.

Agencies which operate exclusively in French and serve a clientele that is fully Francophone are exempted to complete this evaluation tool and should request an Attestation of designation form. Please contact your ministry representative.

Sponsoring Ministry/Ministries:

 

Section 1

Information on the Agency:

1.1

Name according to the letters patent:

1.2

Address:

1.3

Name, title and telephone number of the agency’s representative:

1.4

Name, title and telephone number of the resource person if different from the one indicated above:

Sections 1.5 to 1.7: new designation only

1.5

Organizational type or category (e.g., non-profit, community organization):

1.6

The services covered by the designation are offered to a clientele that is (choose one of the four options provided below):

a)

b)

c)

d)

Fully Francophone

Mostly Francophone

Both Anglophone and Francophone

A Francophone minority

1.7

Brief description of the agency’s background:

Section 2

Information on the Designation :

2.1

Specify the type of application or existing designation:

a)

c)

Full designation:

b)

d)

Partial designation:

Expansion to full:

Expansion to partial:

2.2

List of all programs/services offered by the agency (in the case of more than one sponsoring ministry, please note the ministry abbreviation in brackets beside each of the programs/services):

2.3

In the case of partial designation, indicate the programs/services covered by the application (in the case of more than one sponsoring ministry, please note the ministry abbreviation in brackets beside each of the programs/services):

2.4

Indicate if the agency offers services – which are not covered by this application – on behalf of another ministry (new designation only):

2.5

Indicate if the agency offers services on behalf of another ministry under its designation (evaluation only):

2.6

Provide a brief description of any expertise or unique service offered by the agency (new designation only):

Section 3

Information on the Community:

3.1

Name of the city(ies) and/or region(s) served :

3.2

Electoral districts:

3.3

Population*:

Total

Francophones

%


*Only include data from Statistics Canada based on the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF) indicating the census year.

3.4

Clientele:

Year

Total

Francophones

%

Further to a consultation process involving the ministries and members of the Francophone community, the Office of Francophone Affairs has established a number of criteria which agencies are required to comply with in order to obtain and maintain their designation:

1

The agency must offer quality services in French on a permanent basis, which is ensured by employees with the requisite French language skills.

2

Access to services must be guaranteed and follow the principle of an active offer.*

3

Provisions for effective representation of Francophones on the board of directors and its committees are included in the administrative by-laws and must reflect the proportion of the Francophone population within the community served.

4

The senior management team must have an effective representation of Francophones.

5

The board of directors and the senior management team must be accountable with respect to the quality of French language services.

(*) An active offer refers to the set of measures taken by government agencies to ensure that French- language services are clearly visible, readily available, easily accessible and publicized, and that the quality of these services is equivalent to that of services offered in English. This includes such measures as all communications, i.e. signs, notices, social media and other information on services, as well as the initiation of communication with French-speaking clients.

Section 4

Requirements for Compliance with the Designation Criteria (C)

4.1

The following elements are incorporated in the agency’s administrative bylaws (provide a copy of the relevant documents in Appendix 5):

Yes

C

4.1.1

A detailed statement on the delivery of French language services (FLS).

1

4.1.2

The existence of a policy and a committee on FLS.

1-2

4.1.3

Choose one of the three options below:

3

a)

If the agency serves a community with a Francophone population greater than 10%:

The number of Francophones on the board of directors and the committees of the board of directors reflects the proportion in the community served.

b)

If the agency serves a community with a Francophone population that is less than 10% and the board of directors has less than 10 members:

The board of directors and the committees of the board of directors have at least one Francophone member.

c)

If the agency serves a community with a Francophone population that is less than 10% and the Board of Directors has 10 or more members:

The board of directors and the committees of the board of directors have at least two Francophone members.

Based on the proportions identified in section 3.3 and in the section above, indicate the current composition of the board of directors of the agency:

Total number of members

Number of Francophone members

%

4.1.4

A statement describing the responsibilities of the board of directors and the senior management team with respect to FLS.

5

4.2

Direct services to clients (Provide schedules as well as a detailed description of how these services are offered in French and include a copy of the relevant documents in Appendix 6):

Yes

C

4.2.1

All telephone services, including voice messages and interactive response systems, are actively offered* in French.

1-2

4.2.2

The reception and services, at the time of the initial greeting and at each subsequent point of contact are actively offered* in French.

1-2

4.2.3

A mechanism is in place to determine the linguistic identity of the client from the very first point of contact.

1-2

4.2.4

Professionals responsible for treatment at the agency are proficient in French.

1-2

4.2.5

Volunteer services within the agency are actively offered* in French.

1-2

4.2.6

Contracts signed with third parties that offer services on behalf of the agency contain a clause stating their obligation to ensure the offer of FLS. (if no contract was signed with a third party, indicate “not applicable” (NA) in the box to the right)

1-2

4.2.7

A mechanism, such as a survey or complaint process, is available in French and is clearly communicated to clients so that they can evaluate the quality of FLS offered.

1-2

4.3

Visual identity and communications (provide samples or photographs and identify the mechanisms used in Appendix 7):

Yes

C

4.3.1

The website of the organization is available in French.

1-2

4.3.2

The exterior signage is available in French. If the name of the agency is in English, the signage must indicate that FLS are available.

1-2

4.3.3

The interior signage is available in French or features pictograms. If the agency offers partial FLS, French signage must guide the public to the locations where FLS are offered.

1-2

4.3.4

Admission forms and other documents intended for clients are available in French and actively offered to the French-speaking clientele.

1-2

4.3.5

Employees who are proficient in French wear tags which clearly allow members of the public to identify them.

1-2

4.3.6

Business cards of employees who are proficient in French are available in French or printed in French and in English on each side of the card.

1-2

4.3.7

The letterhead on the correspondence of the agency is available in French or in French and in English.

1-2

4.3.8

Communications and publications intended for the public concerning services covered by the designation, such as pamphlets, brochures, public notices and press releases are available in French.

1-2

4.3.9

The agency responds in French to correspondence received in French.

1-2

4.3.10

A mechanism is in place to translate and correct documents in French intended for the public.

1-2

4.3.11

The agency implements the necessary tools and software required for quality communication in French.

1-2

4.4

Governance and Accountability

Yes

C

4.4.1

A report on the status of FLS is submitted annually to the board of directors for approval. (provide a copy of the relevant policy or regulation in Appendix 8)

5

4.4.2

There is effective representation of Francophones within the senior management team. (identify the positions in Appendix 8)

4

4.4.3

A senior manager has been designated to assume responsibility for the delivery of FLS:

5

Name:

Position:

4.4.4

A mechanism has been put in place to manage complaints concerning FLS. (provide a copy in Appendix 8)

2-5

4.5

The human resources policy incorporates specific measures and mechanisms concerning: (provide a copy of the relevant documents in Appendix 9.1)

Yes

C

4.5.1

Staffing of personnel proficient in French in order to guarantee that FLS are offered on a permanent basis during business hours.

1-2

4.5.2

Identifying the number of positions designated as bilingual and the number of employees required for delivery of FLS.

1-2

4.5.3

Identification of the linguistic profile required for each position.

1-2

4.5.4

Recruitment of employees proficient in French.

1-2

4.5.5

Evaluation of the oral and written French skills of candidates by accredited language assessment services.

1-2

4.5.6

Hiring of personnel proficient in French.

1-2

4.5.7

An offer of training for employees who do not meet the linguistic requirements for the position.

1-2

4.5.8

In the human resources plan, identify each of the positions designated as bilingual, indicating the required linguistic profile and the number of employees with the requisite level of proficiency in French. (please consult your sponsoring ministry if you need to complete Appendix 9.2.1 or Appendix 9.2.2, based on the size of your agency and the proportion of Francophones in the community served)

1-2

Section 5

Community Support (new designation only)

Yes

5.1

Please submit letters of support for your application for designation from recognized Francophone individuals or institutions in the region served. (Appendix 10)

Document Checklist

Yes

Appendix 1

Copy of the agency’s certificate of incorporation (new designation only)

Appendix 2

Copy of the letters patent (new designation only)

Appendix 3

Letter from the agency to the relevant ministry or ministries* requesting designation (new designation only)

* Health service providers must consult the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to determine whether the application needs to be submitted to the planning entity or to the responsible local health integration network.

Appendix 4

Resolution by the Board of Directors approving the request for designation (new designation only)

Appendix 5

Documents required for section 4.1

Appendix 6

Documents required for section 4.2

Appendix 7

Documents required for section 4.3

Appendix 8

Documents required for section 4.4

Appendix 9.1

Documents required for section 4.5

Appendix 9.2

Human Resources Plan

Appendix 10

Letters of support from the community (new designation only)


Appendix 9.2.1: Human Resources Plan for FLS

(PDF)


Appendix 9.2.2: Human Resources Plan

(PDF)

French Language Proficiency

Oral

Written

1

Advanced-Minus level

1

Advanced-Minus level

At this level, the individual has the ability to handle a variety of communication tasks. The individual is able to describe and explain in all timeframes in most informal and some formal situations across a variety of familiar topics. The vocabulary often lacks specificity. Nevertheless, the individual is able to use rephrasing and paraphrasing. Although grammatical, lexical and pronunciation errors are evident, the individual can speak with enough accuracy to be understood.

At this level, the individual is able to meet basic work- related writing needs. The individual is able to narrate and describe in major verb forms or tenses and is able to compose simple summaries on familiar topics. The individual is able to combine and link sentences into paragraphs to form full texts. Writing is understood although some additional effort may be required.

2

Advanced level

2

Advanced level

At this level, the individual has the ability to participate in conversations and satisfy many work requirements. The individual can discuss work-related matters with some ease and facility, expressing opinions and offering views. The individual is able to take part in a variety of verbal exchanges and to participate in meetings and discussion groups. However, the individual still needs help with handling complicated issues or situations. The individual is generally good in either grammar or vocabulary but not in both.

At this level, the individual is able to use a variety of sentence types to express general ideas and opinions on non-specialized topics. The individual can write simple letters and reports required by the position. The individual experiences few problems with either grammar or spelling. However, the writing style may represent literal translations. Nevertheless, a sense of organization is emerging and the individual is beginning to sense what is stylistically and grammatically correct in French.

3

Advanced-Plus level

3

Advanced-Plus level

At this level, the individual is able to give oral presentations in both formal and informal settings. The individual is able to present a fairly detailed outline of his/her line of reasoning on general or work-related topics in formal and informal settings, in meetings and in discussion groups. Some mastery of idioms and of specific vocabulary appropriate to a variety of contexts is evident. Grammar is generally appropriate. Deficiencies in vocabulary are compensated for by synonyms and paraphrases. Problems may be encountered when discussing more specialized topics, but the individual at this level has very little difficulty in making himself / herself understood.

At this level, the individual is able to write about a variety of topics with significant precision and detail. The individual can handle informal and formal correspondence according to appropriate conventions, and write summaries and reports of a factual nature. The individual can also write extensively about topics relating to particular interests and specialized areas of competence, although their writing tends to emphasize the concrete aspects of such topics.

4

Superior level

4

Superior level

At this level, the individual has the ability to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy, fluency and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social and professional topics. The individual is able to use idioms and specific vocabulary relevant to a variety of contexts and to give verbal presentations in both formal and informal settings.

At this level, the individual is able to express him/herself effectively and accurately in most formal and informal writing tasks/assignments on practical, social and professional topics. The individual is able to recognize awkwardness in sentence structure and paragraphs.

Errors in grammar and spelling are minor and infrequent.

APPENDIX 3 – Profiles of some organizations

Cochrane Temiskaming Children’s Treatment Centre

Agency profile

Funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), the Centre provides speech language therapy, occupational therapy, recreational rehabilitation, physiotherapy and social work services for children. It has about 30 employees, most of whom are in Timmins; the remaining employees live in communities where there are service outlets – Kapuskasing, Kirkland Lake, Moose Factory and New Liskeard – which enables the Centre to serve a very large area. It is one of 22 treatment centres funded by MCYS.

Some members of the board of directors are unilingual Anglophones, but most members are bilingual. Almost all of its employees are bilingual, and its internal operations are conducted mostly in French. All services are available in French and English.

It has a budget of $2.7 million (2017-2018).

Challenges and best practices for designation or provision of French language services

The agency received full designation under the FLSA in July 2015.

The designation process was led by Executive Director Marie Rouleau, who took office in 2011. The Centre progressed from a “clause 1 agency”1 in 2012 to a “clause 3 agency” in 2014-2015, notably by implementing the principle of active offer. It is this progression through the Clause system which facilitated the designation process.

The application for designation was submitted to the Ministry in November 2013, but the announcement was not made until July 2015. The Centre first applied to the District Health Council in 1993, but failure to obtain designation at that time left executives discouraged, and they subsequently determined that “it was too much work.”

Motivation for the application lies in the Executive Director’s determination to do more for the Centre’s Francophone clients and offer quality services. She herself is from Northern Ontario, and there is an non-negligible element of pride associated with being designated.

To ensure that designation would not be perceived as a threat to the Centre’s employees, and in view of the reservations expressed by the board’s Anglophone members, the Executive Director presented this whole exercise as part of a global organizational quality process; she had to make her case and dispel unjustified concerns. In other words, designation had to be presented as an advantage to the organization.

The Centre received valuable support from the MCYS Regional Office, whose supervisors took the time to discuss procedures and requirements related to designation.

The process required assessing employees’ language proficiency to identify training needs for Anglophone staff with intermediate proficiency in French.

Designation is now a symbol of quality for the Centre, setting it apart from other agencies in deploying new programs by the Ministry.

Although the Centre is a bilingual agency, the process was not a “slam dunk.” The greatest challenges were managing to recruit bilingual professionals and convincing the board and staff members that the goal was not to provide preferential treatment to Francophone clients.

The Executive Director notes, however, that financial support for such things as translating forms and signage would be beneficial for agencies with tight budgets.

She also regrets that the designation was not announced publicly and celebrated in the same manner as an accreditation might be.

1 The approach that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services takes with its third parties is to specify the level of French-language services offered in each Ministry-funded program each year. There are four levels: referral clause, clause 1, clause 2, and clause 3. Once an agency reaches clause 3, it is essentially ready to apply for designation. Annual reports are required, so that progression through the levels can be tracked and encouraged.

Hamilton Community Legal Clinic

Agency profile

The Clinic is a not-for-profit agency governed by a community board of directors. It provides legal advice in French and English to low-income individuals in the Hamilton area.

It is funded by Legal Aid Ontario and provides legal advice on issues such as housing, disabilities, work accidents, labour, immigration and victim compensation.

It employs 34 people and has three positions designated under the FLS Act: a lawyer, a legal worker and an administrative assistant. There is also a bilingual intern. The employees who provide FLS are split between the main office in downtown Hamilton and the satellite office located in the Hamilton/Niagara Community Health Centre in Hamilton.

Challenges and best practices for designation or provision of French language services

The Clinic has been designated since 2012.

Following a resolution passed by the board, Mélissa Loïzou, a bilingual lawyer who manages FLS, spearheaded the process and, with the assistance of her team and the Clinic’s FLS committee, completed the application for designation.

For the Clinic, this status is important because it demonstrates a strong commitment to the Francophone community.

The Clinic’s FLS team learned about the possibility of obtaining designation through conversations with the managers of the Community Health Centre at their satellite office; the managers were very helpful partners in completing the designation process.

The Clinic also received support and advice from the office of Sabine Derbier, French Language Services Manager at the Ministry of the Attorney General, and Chantal Gagnon, French language services coordinator at Legal Aid Ontario. The MAG kit was very useful.

The role of the Clinic’s Executive Director was critical, as he persuaded employees and board members to go along with the designation process. He is a Francophile and appreciates the use of French. He has also given presentations to Anglophone agencies from the area about the value of applying for designation.

The most significant challenges lay in finding staff with excellent oral and written proficiency in both languages, and in recruiting Francophone board members.

With regard to the process, the application was submitted one year after the board carried the appropriate motion, to allow the Clinic time to comply with requirements. After that, it took several months for the announcement to be published in the Ontario Gazette, because there was a provincial election. The Clinic never received a notice indicating that it was officially designated. This fact was discovered when someone did a Google search.

The Clinic submitted its first compliance report to the Ministry of the Attorney General in October 2017. The Clinic does not expect to have any difficulty in meeting the 34 requirements. The FLS team provides an orientation briefing for all new employees and issues regular reminders to staff, particularly about active offer.

According to the Executive Director of the Clinic, a number of community agencies he contacted are reluctant to apply for designation because they are worried about the consequences if they fail to maintain compliance with the 34 requirements at all times. Partial designation, which is less demanding, would be appropriate and would enable more agencies to offer specific programs in French.

Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Organisational profile

Hôtel Dieu Hospital is located in Kingston, home to a population of 5,235 Francophones1. With a staff of 800, Hotel Dieu’s emergency and ambulatory departments are identified under The French Language Services Act.

In April 2017, the hospital merged with the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, two other research institutes and the Kingston General Hospital which is also identified. The new facility, now known as the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), is now Southeastern Ontario’s largest acute-care university hospital. The Centre employs 5,000 staff and serve more than 500,000 patients.

Elisabeth Bardon, Vice-president of Mission, Strategy and Communications at KHSC was the vice-president of Hotel Dieu Hospital prior to the merger. She indicated that Hotel Dieu had nurses, physicians and physiotherapists able to provide care in French in those departments at the time.

The South East LHIN funds Hotel Dieu, through the ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

Promising practices with regard to the provision of French language services

Last year, the South East LHIN had an budget of $150,000 to enhance French language services. This was used to encourage identified agencies to progress towards designation under the French Language Services Act. Elizabeth Bardon points out that Hotel Dieu received three distinct grants (each between $40,000 and 50,000) to enhance French language services. The hospital, identified under the French Language Services Act, was therefore able to install bilingual signage, to work on its French language corporate policies and to develop specific French language by-laws which were approved by Hotel Dieu’s board of directors.

She adds that the hospital found creative ways to use these funds. Management sent an internal email to its 800 staff, inviting them to test their French oral skills for free. The invitation resonated with about 80 employees. Identifying bilingual human resources was previously seen as a burden, but it was no longer an issue. “If we had not received this additional source of funding (from the LHIN), we could not have done all that we did” underlines Bardon today, reflecting on the work accomplished so far. She estimates that progress toward designation was well under way and adds that 60% of the criteria had been met.

Challenges in the provision of French language services

According to Elizabeth Bardon, the merger did not come without obstacles. Even though Hotel Dieu Hospital put a lot of effort into the development and adoption of its French language services bylaws, the Kingston Health Science Centre did not adopt them. This now leaves a potential legal vacuum. Previously, in similar situations, the OFLSC has shared concerns about the consequences of a closure or a merger for identified or partially designated institutions that do not follow due process2.

In addition, due to the fact that more than 5,000 employees work at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre, the number of designated positions represents a much smaller proportion of individuals. This clearly makes it more complicated to pursue designation.

Elizabeth Bardon believes that there is a need for more education on the legal aspects related to French language services. She explains that there is currently no mention of French language services in the Ontario Hospital Association’s Guide to Good Governance3, a document which outlines obligations for hospitals and hospital boards across the province. Law offices hired to support OHA members when undergoing a merger are not informed about French language services requirements and ensuing implications, and consequently do not provide member hospitals with the proper advice.

“There is a need for change in organizational culture to integrate the concepts of identification, designation and, more broadly, French language services from the beginning of any merger process and throughout. It must be imbedded in signage policies, in governance policies and bylaws, and should be part of the Guide to Good governance. CEOs need to understand that it’s the right thing to do,” she concludes.

1 For more details, see Office of Francophone Affairs and Statistics Canada, Census of Population, 2011.

2 For more details, see Brief concerning the revision of Ontario Regulation 398/93 and revocation of the designation of Penetanguishene General Hospital (page consulted in October 2017).

3 For more details, see https://www.thegce.ca/RESOURCES/Goodgovernance/Documents/Table%20of%20Contents.pdf (page consulted in October 2017).

The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton (CCAS Hamilton)

Organisational profile

The CCAS Hamilton (CCASH) is mandated and regulated under the Child and Family Services Act (1984). CCASH is required to investigate all complaints of alleged abuse or neglect and situations putting children at risk. It offers a number of support programs for families. 98% of children are supported in their family home. Where that is not possible, children are placed with members of the extended family or in foster care. A small percentage of children are permanently placed through adoption.

Guided by Catholic values and teachings, CCASH serves children and youth within the Hamilton community by protecting them, keeping them safe and well-cared for, strengthening families and nurturing lifelong relationships. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Children and Youth Service and services are provided to Catholic families in the City of Hamilton. Currently, CCASH provides ongoing services to 425 families to ensure protection of children, handles 260 children in their care, and supports more than 100 foster families. They are conducting 168 investigations.

With a staff of 171, CCASH boasts a team of French-speaking staff which includes two case workers, one intake worker, a receptionist and an administrative assistant. In addition, there are two bilingual supervisors and some of the other staff members are upgrading their French language capacity.

Challenges and best practices in providing French language services

CCASH is not designated under the French Language Services Act. However, with the passing of O. Reg. 284/11, it is now classified as a transfer payment agency, and is therefore subject to a new requirement regarding the implementation of an active offer of French language services.

At the time, Rocco Gizzarelli, who is now the CCASH’S Executive Director, was the Lead Service Director responsible for implementing this requirement. He collaborated with the Hamilton CAS and Family Services Niagara, the two local French Language School Boards and the Centre de Santé to structure the offer of French language services for children at risk in the region.

Together, they received three separate grants through the Canada-Ontario Agreement and the Trillium Foundation to perform an environmental scan of French language services capacity in the region, develop a French language services’ plan, increase translation of documents and public signage, and develop inter-agency service agreements. Any internal doubts about whether there would be sufficient demand for French language services were quickly dispelled.

Today, services in French are offered in schools, and CCASH fulfills requirements of MCYS’s CLAUSE 31. Its French-speaking staff have formed a French language resource group to sustain the ongoing implementation of active offer.

Under the leadership of Mr. Gizzarelli, CCASH recently considered applying for designation under the French Language Services Act. However, after a presentation by MCYS’s regional manager to the board of directors on the 34 requirements for designation, CCASH elected, with board approval, to postpone submitting a request for partial designation.

The Executive Director who sits on the French language sub-group under the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies is now reconsidering applying for CCASH’s designation. He underlines that it is “the right thing to do”, but stresses that the organisational requirements are a significant barrier. While being a designated organization is clearly seen as a sign of excellence, he notes that there are increased organisational and reputational risks entailed when compliance issues lead to complaints with the OFLSC. Negative media backlash is also a concern.

To this day, the most pressing challenges in implementing French language services are related to hiring and retaining qualified French-speaking staff. For this reason, it is essential to stress the importance of implementing remedial action plans to address staffing shortfalls, rather than implementing strict complaint processes more focused on highlighting shortfalls.

1 The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has implemented an approach with its transfer payment agencies whereby agencies assess annually the level of French language services available for each of its ministry- funded programs. There are four levels: Referring agency, Clause 1, Clause 2 and Clause 3. At Clause 3, an agency is essentially ready to seek its designation under the French Language Services Act. Through this reporting process, agencies are encouraged to proceed from one level to the next.

Study on designation: Revitalizing the Provision of French Language Services

Press Release (PDF)

TORONTO, March 7, 2018 – Today, Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau announced the release of a special study on the current status of the agency designation process under the French Language Services Act and Regulation 398/93. The report’s conclusions confirm that it is essential for the Ontario government to modernize this important mechanism in order to enhance French language services and to contribute to the development of the entire Francophone community.

According to Commissioner Boileau, “By optimizing and improving the agency designation process, we will be able to promote better services in French in a manner that meets the expectations and needs of Ontario’s Francophone populations”.

The study’s findings identified a number of obvious shortcomings that undermine the provision of services in French; these include the failure to promote designation, the slow processing of applications, the disparity in support provided to agencies seeking designation, and the shortcomings of the accountability mechanism for designated agencies. Consequently, the provision of French language services did not increase in several essential sectors and were often of lesser quality.

Mr. Boileau added that: “This study provides concrete solutions for each of the shortcomings identified in the designation process, not only in terms of increasing the number of designated agencies in the province, but also in considerably improving the availability of French language services in several activity sectors”.

In the mindset of being able to provide quality French language services that give due consideration to the needs and concerns of Francophones, this study’s goal was to take stock of the legislative mechanism and come up with recommendations on how to improve it.

 

Key Facts

  • In Ontario, agency designation is a legal and administrative process that follows the rules and procedures prescribed in the French Language Services Act and Regulation 398/93, as well as the directives from the Ministry of Francophone Affairs.

 

  • The revamping of the designation process is part of the mandate letter from the Premier to the Minister of Francophone Affairs.

 

  • There are currently 245 designated agencies in Ontario, 84 of which fall under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Most of these agencies have limited designation for a specific program.

 

  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, through the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), adopted an administrative procedure that consists of identifying certain health care providers for the purpose of offering French language services. The purpose of this administrative procedure was to better prepare them for submitting a designation application.

 

  • While approximately 201 agencies were identified by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, few have sought designation.

 

  • The study of the designation process was largely based on interviews with ministerial stakeholders and agency directors, and on quantitative data produced by the French Language Health Services Network of Eastern Ontario.

 

The office of the French Language Services Commissioner reports directly to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and its mandate is essentially to ensure that government services are delivered in compliance with the French Language Services Act.

 

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Passing of M. Noble Villeneuve

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Noble Villeneuve. He was 79 years old.

Mr. Villeneuve served as MPP for the riding of Stormont–Dundas–Glengarry and East Grenville. In his long political career, he held the cabinet positions of Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs from 1995 to 1999.

On behalf of the team at the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, we extend our most sincere condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.