Access to Justice in French Pilot Project

I am delighted with the Attorney General’s recent announcement that the Ontario government is introducing a pilot project to provide seamless French-language services at the Ottawa courthouse.

This announcement constitutes the partial implementation of one of the recommendations in my latest annual report, entitled Rooting for Francophones.Essentially, I recommended that the Attorney General establish a pilot project to improve access to justice in French based on the recommendations and intent of the report Access to Justice in French.

I am hopeful that this project will give a real shot in the arm to French-language services in the justice sector.The Minister herself stated that she was surprised when she personally went to the clerk’s office in the Ottawa courthouse and noticed the lack of services in French.

But to ensure the project’s success, the government will have to combine it with a promotional campaign to make people aware of it.In other words, the project will need the leadership, resources and time required to guarantee its success.The project is an opportunity for people to see for themselves what an equitable justice system for Francophones in a minority setting looks like, and, in particular, to obtain a roadmap for making it a reality.

There is one flaw, however. I would like to have seen the project apply to a region that encompassed both areas designated under the French Language Services Act and non-designated areas, and both urban centres and rural areas.By confining the project to the city of Ottawa, I have some doubts that the results will reflect the diversity of access to justice in French across the province.Nevertheless, the Commissioner’s Office is looking forward to this pilot project, since we continue to receive complaints about the lack of access to justice in French.

Stay tuned.

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