Ottawa Courthouse Pilot Strengthens Access to Justice in French

Province Releases Final Report on Ottawa Courthouse Pilot Project

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario is making it easier for French-speaking people in the Ottawa region to access French-language justice services.

Today, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, joined by Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Francophone Affairs, and François Boileau, the French Language Services Commissioner, was in Ottawa to release the final report on the Seamless Access to Justice in French pilot project, and announce that important changes made at the Ottawa courthouse to increase access to justice for French-speakers will be made permanent.

The pilot project, which was delivered in partnership with Ontario’s chief justices, has enhanced access to justice in French at the Ottawa courthouse by:

  • Clearly displaying information about French language rights specific to family, criminal, civil, and Small Claims Court matters throughout the courthouse
  • Informing French-speaking individuals of their French language rights at the earliest opportunity to help them navigate Ontario’s justice system and exercise their right to proceed in French
  • Actively offering services in French through greetings, public announcements and signage in both official languages, so that French-speaking court users are aware of and can access French services
  • Establishing protocols between local government officials and Ottawa judiciary to facilitate access to justice in French.

The ongoing work to improve access to justice in French for all Franco-Ontarians will be supported by a new Access to Justice in French Advisory Committee that will be established in the near future. The government is also sharing the report with French Language Services Regional Committees throughout the province.

Enhancing justice services for French-speaking people in Ontario is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • The project responded to a number of recommendations set out by the French Language Services Bench and Bar Advisory committee in its 2012 Access to Justice in French report and the French Language Services Commissioner’s 2013-2014 Annual Report and will help Ontario identify best practices to enhance access to justice in French at court locations throughout the province.
  • Ottawa is a designated area under both the French Language Services Act and the Courts of Justice Act.
  • About 622,415 francophones live in Ontario, which is the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec.
  • About 42 per cent of Ontario francophones live in eastern Ontario. The rest live in central (30 per cent), northeastern (21 per cent), southwestern (six per cent) and northwestern (one per cent) Ontario.

Additional Resources


“I would like to thank the pilot project team and the chief justices for their commitment to enhancing access to justice in French. The Ottawa courthouse will continue to proactively offer service in French and ensure that francophones are aware of their rights. Making these changes permanent is an important step in building a more accessible justice system for Franco-Ontarians across the province.”

Yasir Naqvi – Attorney General

“I would like to thank all the justice professionals who contributed to the success of this pilot project. Their efforts and commitment have resulted in the long-term viability of French-language services at the Ottawa courthouse and given us the opportunity of generalizing this approach for the benefit of the entire Franco-Ontarian community.”

Marie-France Lalonde – Minister of Francophone Affairs

“The initiatives at the Ottawa courthouse under the pilot project are now permanent, which is excellent news for francophones. The pilot project demonstrated that it is possible to improve access to justice in French with concrete measures, since we no longer receive complaints about the courthouse in Ottawa. The time has come for other courthouses in the province to benefit from the useful initiatives implemented in Ottawa to ensure holistic access to justice for all francophones.”

François Boileau – French Language Services Commissioner

“This pilot has created a unique opportunity to review and assess current judicial scheduling practices to ensure the needs of the francophone community are met. The Superior Court of Justice will continue to partner with the ministry to enhance access to justice for all francophones in Ontario.”

The Honourable Heather J. Smith – Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice

“The pilot project has enhanced access to justice for francophones in Ottawa. The Ontario Court of Justice is pleased to have been a partner in the pilot project and welcomes having the project made permanent to better serve all Ottawa court users.”

The Honourable Lise T. Maisonneuve – Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice