2010-2011 Annual Report: Message to the media

This message to the media was delivered by the French Language Services Commissioner when presenting his 2010-2011 Annual Report.

Icône PDF — Grand 2010-2011 Annual Report: Message to the media

MESSAGE TO THE MEDIA

FOR THE PUBLICATION OF THE POUR LA PUBLICATION DU
2010-2011 Annual Report

by

François Boileau
French Language Services
Commissioner of Ontario

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

1:30 p.m.

Media Studio
Queen’s Park Legislative Building
Toronto, Ontario

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to present to you my fourth annual report, as French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario.

This year’s report is entitled A shared engagement — a title that speaks to our mission to ensure that Ontarians receive high-quality French-language services (i) from the Government of Ontario, (ii) from its classified agencies, and (iii) from third parties providing services on its behalf.

It is a shared engagement, because this important mission cannot be accomplished alone.

Indeed, providing quality French-language services is a responsibility that is shared between (i) members of the Franco-Ontarian community (ii) the Government of Ontario which has a legal obligation to supply these services, and (iii) the French Language Services Commissioner whose mandate is to ensure compliance with the French Language Services Act.

This year, my first recommendation is addressed directly to the Franco-Ontarian community, in light of the Government’s announced intention to reform the way it delivers public services.

Indeed, I encourage Franco-Ontarians to take an active part in this process by
proposing innovative, pragmatic and results-oriented means and methods to ensure the development of our community.

But for this to happen, the government must be prepared to listen and put aside the typical ministry-by-ministry, department-by-department approach. We must break down the culture of silos.

Some people out there think that the goal of the FLSA is to provide services to unilingual French-speaking people. Of course, it is certainly one of the effect intended by this Act. But it is not its goal.

The goal of the FLSA is double. One of the underlying purposes and objectives of the Act is the protection of the minority francophone population in Ontario. It is to recognize the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French-speaking population and it is the wish of the Legislative Assembly to preserve it for future generations.

Another goal is the advancement of the French language and promotion of its
equality with English. These purposes coincide with the underlying unwritten principles of the Constitution of Canada.

Being Franco-Ontarian is a choice that has to be made every day. It is not as easy as it sounds to keep his or her own language in a sea of English. The threat of assimilation is very real. And if we lose our ability to have a strong Franco-Ontarian community, we lose an important edge in this day and age where the whole world is getting so small and competition so fierce.

It is the government’s duty to help keep the French fact alive and to make the
Franco-Ontarian’s choice to remain Francophone easier. If we fail, it will open wider the door to assimilation and to the impoverishment of our collective heritage.

The government must understand that the best way to offer services to the FrancoOntarian community is to adopt an integrated approach that favours its development. This could be accomplished through a number of concepts, including multi-service centres where French would be the dominant language.

My report also contains a message to those municipalities that offer Frenchlanguage services but do not have a bylaw to guarantee these services. It is time to act and adopt such a bylaw to protect French-languages services for generations to come.

Such measures not only contribute to the survival and development of the
Francophone community but also ensure that the delivery of French-language services doesn’t hinge on the political goodwill of the municipal council of the day.

In 2010-2011 the Commissioner’s Office convinced the government to act in several key areas benefiting Franco-Ontarians.

For example (i) in May 2010, the Government adopted a mandatory Communications in French Directive that applies to all government ministries and agencies (ii) 2010 also saw the creation of six new French Language Health Planning Entities, and (iii) the government announced in March of this year that it was amending the Community Care Access Corporations Act, to ensure that the French Language Services Act applies to Community Care Access Centres.

These satisfactory results — obtained through our partnership with complainants — are illustrated in table format, in Chapter 4. This table shows that out of 13 recommendations presented to the Government since our 2007-2008 annual report, 10 have been adopted or are in the process of being implemented.

Complaints from citizens fuel our desire to find solutions — for individuals, and for all Franco-Ontarians. And my sole objective is simple: to improve French-language services, now and for future generations. Recommendations 3 and 4 of my report are perfect examples.

Recommendation 3 deals with the government’s attempt to promote energy
conservation through Ontario Power Authority’s saveONenergy campaign.

This campaign saw the distribution of 5 million coupon booklets to households, in English-only, despite the existence of French-language promotional material.

That’s why I’m recommending that the OPA, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation be subject to the French Language Services Act, insofar as their programs, services and communications targeting the general public are concerned.

And I have a similar recommendation regarding Waste Diversion Ontario that currently does not provide any information in French, thus excluding Francophones from being properly informed when it comes to reduction, reuse, and recycling. The Ministry of Environment must act.

Excluding Francophones is unacceptable.

This fourth annual report also presents first-hand accounts of citizens who have accepted to speak out publicly to improve services for their community. Some of these clients are here with us today and would be glad to share their story with you.

It would be difficult indeed to improve French-language services in this province without the help of citizens… to whom I must say thank you.

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