Commissioner’s Blog

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François Boileau
French Language Services Commissioner

Everyone matters

In my Special Report on French Language Health Services Planning in Ontario, I had the opportunity to stress the importance of community health centres for Francophone communities, collectively, and of course, for its individual members. Essentially, these centres empower members to take responsibility for the delivery of their health services, including those provided in French. They clearly represent the “by-and-for” model. It is now commonly accepted that the determinants of health require a holistic approach based on getting to know patients, and that this includes familiarity with their culture and language as well as their socio-economic background, in order to provide quality services.

The Association of Ontario Health Centres has published an interesting report that illustrates how the creation of community health centres is more than a step in the right direction; it’s the right thing to do. This very thorough report also explores the unique situation of Francophones across Ontario. It’s definitely worth the read, especially for policy makers.

The AOHC’s has also produced an inspired video that demonstrates the importance and positive impact of community health centres, including for Francophones in this province. I highly recommend that you check it out.

Bilingualism threatened at Landsdowne Park?

The topic of bilingual signage at Landsdowne Park is once again in the news, a few days before the arrival of Ottawa’s new mayor, Jim Watson.

I’ve already discussed this topic in an early post when I first found out about the project to redevelop this important landmark. And my position remains unchanged: The fact that project is entrusted to a private developer must in no way undermine or adversely affect the area’s bilingual signs.

In June, I had sent a letter to outgoing mayor Larry O’Brian and his council outlining my concerns. I trust that the new city council will respect its Bilingualism Policy, adopted in 2001.

Children’s Aid Societies

This week I had the privilege of addressing a crowd of 120 people in Barrie who work for and are in partnership with the Children’s Aid Society of Simcoe County. I truly enjoy these unique opportunities to explain the reasons why we have a French-language Services Act in Ontario. These meetings also allow me to stress the importance of actively offering services in French simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I also used this occasion to highlight one of the recommendations from my last annual report that deals specifically with Children’s Aid Societies. The goal of this recommendation is to ensure that organizations actively offer French-language services throughout Ontario and not only in francophone-designated regions. I also recommended that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services create a network of French-language service providers — or, at the very least a directory — for the benefit of those Societies that are currently unable to offer these services themselves.

The goal? To be able to provide services in French for children who are already facing difficult situations. This is also why I have established a working relationship with the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare. The Commission has a three-year mandate to come up with solutions that, I am convinced, will help us move forward. In fact, we will be meeting again next month. In the meantime, I invite you to read their first report, published in June.

The LRSP: An important program

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of traveling to the University of Ottawa for the first annual meeting of the Language Rights Support Program (LRSP). I was invited to deliver a speech on the impact of the Desrochers decision on French-language services. My message: Despite the fact that this decision deals with federal institutions, it nonetheless has a direct impact on the application of the French Language Services Act, primarily in the area of services delivery for Francophone communities.

Next month, the LRSP will be marking its first year of existence. This program replaces the abandoned Court Challenges Program (that I led, as its first executive director) and plays an important role in clarifying the linguistic rights of official language minorities in Canada. I hope and trust that it will do well!

French-language radio added to Ottawa dial

Ottawa’s francophone communities now have a new way to share their culture and daily preoccupations with the launch of CJFO-FM: a community radio station that is now broadcasting at 94.5 FM.

I have a strong connection with community radio, having myself worked as a volunteer for such a station in Winnipeg, several years ago. Their artisans are passionate members of the community who work hard to produce programming that you won’t find anywhere else. Community radio has the power to unite, inform and appeal to the emotions of its listeners through the magic of the airwaves.

Thinking of getting involved? This is your opportunity.

A talented analyst hired by the FLSC

A sixth employee has joined the ranks of the Office of the FLSC. Indeed, François-Michel Pellecuer was the successful candidate in our search for a senior analyst. His role will be to support our manager of investigations, Jocelyne Samson, to uphold the rights of Ontario’s French-speaking citizens.

François-Michel knows the Ontario Public Service very well and is also well-versed regarding the application of the French Language Services Act. He has several years of experience working for the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

I am very pleased to welcome him aboard!