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Contact Information

For requests concerning media relations, requests for interviews or public relations:

Emmanuelle Bleytou
Lead, Strategic communications
Phone: 1 866 246-5262 or 416 847-1515 ext. 107
Cell : 416 906-7021
Email: communications.flsccsf@flscontario.ca

The Commissioner recommends that the government adopt an action plan for the development of francophone communities and the promotion of the French Language in Ontario

TORONTO, July 18, 2018 – Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner, François Boileau, presented today his 11th Annual Report to the new Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the honourable Ted Arnott. The report, Looking ahead, Getting ready, covers the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner’s activities from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, and makes 14 recommendations, including one to the effect that the province should adopt an action plan on the development of Francophone communities and the promotion of the French language in Ontario.

For his report, the Commissioner asked seven experts to write about several issues that affect or will affect the delivery of French language services, including demography. Unlike last year’s report, which reviewed the 10 previous years, this one projects the Francophone population forward to 2028, and calls upon the government to prepare itself. Many demographic scenarios are examined. The best-case scenario shows that by 2028, in spite of expected growth in Ontario’s Francophone population in absolute figures, the proportion will continue to decline, relative to the province’s total population.

The Commissioner therefore calls upon the government to take action.

According to Commissioner Boileau: “The findings are alarming. We need to prepare for a scenario in which we will have some serious catching-up to do, notably on Francophone immigration and the aging of the population. A provincial action plan for developing Francophone communities and promoting French in Ontario would be a first step towards a long-term solution. I agree that it is ambitious, but it is also essential. It would give the ministries a framework and indicate the desired collective direction. The new Ford government needs to field the ball and immediately seize this opportunity.

The Commissioner made another seven recommendations on Francophone immigration and six more on demography, health, the production and dissemination of French-language digital content, the digital transformation of the government-citizen relationship, the restructuring of in-person public services and tomorrow’s workforce.

My advisory role is one of the most important assigned to me under the French Language Services Act. More than ever, the annual report includes valuable advice. Daring to think 10 years ahead is a perilous exercise at best. The very words used in the title, Looking ahead, Getting ready, are action verbs recommending that we face up to reality and do what has to be done. My goal is to mobilize public policymakers and engage Francophone communities in taking strong collective action,” concluded the Commissioner.

 

QUICK FACTS

  • In 2017-2018, the Commissioner’s Office dealt with 315 complaints and requests for information, over two-thirds of which were admissible.
  • The report refers to 28 best practices, honourable mentions and initiatives that promote the delivery of French language services.
  • The French Language Services Commissioner is one of nine independent officers of the Legislative Assembly.

 

The mandate of the Commissioner’s Office is to ensure that government services are delivered in compliance with the French Language Services Act.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Consult the annual report at flscontario.ca, in the “Publications” section.

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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The Ontario College of Teachers and the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario sign a memorandum of understanding on French language services

Press Release (PDF)

Memorandum of understanding (PDF)

Toronto, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 – The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is pleased to announce that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed with the Ontario College of Teachers. This MOU will lead to improved collaboration, with the goal of ensuring fluidity in the management of complaints about French language services offered in connection with the services provided by the College.

I am very pleased to be able to collaborate with the College of Teachers. This will provide an opportunity to optimize the process in order to better respond to the needs of complainants,” said French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau.

The MOU sets out the terms on which the Commissioner may refer a complaint to the College for investigation and describes the process for dealing with the complaint, which will promote equitable access to French language services for the Francophone community. The College will conduct an investigation into each complaint it receives from the Commissioner in a timely, efficient and fair manner. The College will inform the Commissioner of the outcome of its investigations into all complaints referred by him, including any measure taken by the College to address them.

 

Key Facts 

  • This is the second MOU that the Office of the Commissioner has signed with a professional governing body, the first being with the Law Society of Ontario in 2014.
  • The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and the Ontario College of Teachers have agreed to focus on French language services to both the public and members of the College, rather than on jurisdictional issues.

 

 

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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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Access to Justice in French in Ontario: A New Advisory Committee Chaired by Justice Paul Rouleau

TORONTO, February 7, 2018 – Today, the Attorney General, Mr. Yasir Naqvi, announced the establishment of the Attorney General’s Access to Justice in French Advisory Committee, which will be chaired by Mr. Justice Paul S. Rouleau, of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

“I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Attorney General in this matter and I hope that the Committee will have enough independence, resources, and flexibility to fulfill its mandate. The Committee’s work will undoubtedly have a positive impact on providing French language services and access to justice in French in general”, states Mr. François Boileau, French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario.

This Committee, composed of experts from the government, the judiciary and the community, is of capital importance because its mandate will be to assess the current issues connected with access to justice in French and then to submit practical recommendations and solutions to the Attorney General.

I am confident that we will soon see the day where Francophone litigants will not have to wait longer and spend more money to assert their language rights in the courts of this province. We are already seeing the positive impact of the Seamless Access to Justice in French Pilot Project, which became a permanent project last fall”, says the Commissioner.

 

Key facts

  • In its 2008-2009 Annual Report, the French Language Services Commissioner addressed the challenges related to access to justice in French and recommended that the Attorney General set up a committee composed of members of the judiciary, of the Bar and of practitioners working for the Francophone community. Its mandate would be to find ways to improve judges’ knowledge in language rights matters and to address the lack of bilingual judges in Ontario.
  • In response to the Commissioner’s recommendations, the Attorney General established, in 2010, a French Language Services Bench and Bar Advisory Committee. This Committee made two findings in particular in its report entitled Access to Justice in French: first, it is possible that certain members of the judiciary are not sufficiently informed on Francophone language rights and, second, it could be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to bring proceedings in French before the courts of the province.
  • In 2015, the French Language Services Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee, co-chaired by Justice Julie Thorburn and by Ms. Elizabeth Bucci, published a report that reviewed the practical solutions implemented after the Rouleau-LeVay Report was published. The Committee recommended the establishment of a long-term mechanism, such as a French language services oversight committee, to assess ongoing progress, as well as new measures to improve access to language rights for Francophones in the province.
  • In its 2016-2017 Annual Report, the Commissioner reiterated the importance of such a committee under the Attorney General.
  • The development and implementation of measures to improve access to justice in French require the involvement of many players, including the Ministry of the Attorney General, the judiciary, the Law Society of Ontario, the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO), and the federal government. All of these parties are closely connected when it comes to dealing with the challenges posed by access to justice in French. The new permanent committee will certainly create opportunities for discussion and sharing on all fronts, which will lead to concrete, structured recommendations that will bring about future change.

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner reports directly to Legislative Assembly of Ontario and its mandate is to ensure that the delivery of government services complies with the French Language Services Act.

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Appointment of Raymond Théberge: Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

TORONTO, November 30, 2017 – Commissioner François Boileau is delighted with the recent announcement by the Prime Minister of Canada, who has just nominated Raymond Théberge to be Commissioner of Official Languages. This appointment will be confirmed only once the House of Commons and the Senate have approved it in accordance with the Official Languages Act (OLA).

Mr. Boileau stated this: “In my work at the Office of French Language Services, I worked with Mr. Théberge in many files, in particular in the field of education. I am looking forward to working with him to continue to enrich the efficient and fruitful collaboration between our respective offices. At the same time, I would like to highlight Ms. Ghislaine Saikaley’s outstanding work over the last year”.

The Senate is studying the modernisation of the OLA, which will give many groups the opportunity to offer their thoughts on five subjects. The Office of French Language Services intends to participate in this discussion by submitting a brief to guide discussions at the federal level. Another objective of the brief is to assess the possible repercussions that the overhaul of the Official Languages Act will have on the French Language Services Act and, accordingly, on French-language services in Ontario.

 

Quick facts

• In 2012, a memorandum of understanding made it possible to formalize the collaboration between the two commissioners and to maximize the support that they offer to citizens and to communities, and well as to other parties who benefit from their services.

• In a study published in 2013, the Commissioner of Federal Languages of Canada, in partnership with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick and the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario, made ten recommendations to Canada’s Justice Minister that would ensure that Canadians have access to justice in both official languages.

• In 2014, the Commissioner of Federal Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser, and the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario, François Boileau, published a joint report that highlights how important it is that the federal and provincial governments offer a Francophone perspective in their immigration policies and programs.

• In 2014, the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario signed a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Toronto 2015 Organizing Committee for the Pan American/Parapan American Games to ensure that the linguistic duality of Canada and Ontario was supported and represented before, during, and after, these greatly anticipated games.

• Mr. Raymond Théberge has been President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Moncton for almost five years. Before that, he held several positions in Ontario. He led Canada’s Council of Ministers of Education and then became Assistant Deputy Minister of the French Language, Aboriginal Learning and Research Division at Ontario’s Ministry of Education, and at Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner reports directly to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and its mandate is to ensure that the delivery of government services complies with the French Language Services Act.

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