Commissioner’s Blog

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François Boileau
French Language Services Commissioner

Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year 2014!

Allow me to wish you Happy Holidays and a marvellous New Year 2014, filled with health, happiness and love!

My blog will be on hiatus for the holidays but will (hopefully, possibly?!) return in January 2014.

2013.12.20 - Billet Joyeuses Fêtes et Bonne Année 2014 FR-EN (modif)

A Look Back at the Last Few Months, Part 5: A Visit to Chatham and Pain Court, an HC Link Event and the Annual Meeting of the Language Rights Support Program

2013.12.18 - Billet Retour sur les derniers mois, cinquième partie FR

Ms. Geneviève Boudreau, Director, Language Rights Support Program; Mr. Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada; Ms. Katherine d’Entremont, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick; and Mr. François Boileau, French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario.

Following not one, not two or three, but four blog posts in this year-end review series, today I am taking you back to November 7, when I visited Chatham and Pain Court, the home town of “our” Assistant Deputy Minister, Janine Griffore, to attend a meeting of Erie St. Clair’s identified and designated health service providers at the Centre communautaire de Chatham-Kent, La Girouette.

The purpose of this event was to bring together the 28 identified organizations and two designated organizations of the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and to present the new French-language services toolkit developed by Marthe Dumont and Suzy Doucet-Simard, the French-language services coordinators of the Erie St. Clair LHIN and the South West LHIN, respectively.

I took advantage of this trip to meet with Jacques Kenny, Executive Director of the Erie St. Clair/South West French Language Health Planning Entity; to give a presentation to the local Francophone community; to meet with Joseph Picard, Director of Education of the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence; and to visit the primary care access point of the Pain Court community health centre. Renée Moison is a fully bilingual nurse practitioner who was born in the region. With the support of this nurse, who is not short on vision or commitment, it is a promising, and truly refreshing, access point.

I also met with history and law students at École secondaire de Pain Court, and I had discussions with the region’s school principals. A huge thank-you to Marthe Dumont, French Language Services Coordinator at the Erie St. Clair LHIN, for her outstanding work in arranging this visit.

More recently, on November 13, I attended HC Link’s conference on “Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change” in Toronto. I gave a speech entitled Parce que les plus vulnérables ne se plaignent jamais [because the most vulnerable people never complain], whose main messages were linked to the Commissioner’s Office’s disadvantaged groups priority.

The most recent major event that I attended was the annual meeting of the Language Rights Support Program (LRSP), held on November 20 at the University of Ottawa. As a panellist, and together with my colleagues Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, and Katherine d’Entremont, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, I presented a draft study on access to justice that explains the importance of the provisions concerning courts in section 19 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the impact that alternative dispute resolution processes have on access to justice. Of course, I talked about Access to Justice in French, the report of the French Language Services Bench and Bar Advisory Committee to the Attorney General of Ontario, and the important actions being taken in response to it.

This concludes my review of the significant events that I attended over the last few months. Once again I extend my thanks to all the organizations that hosted these events for their exceptional work and their commitment to active, integrated delivery of French-language services to Ontario’s Francophone and Francophile communities.

A Look Back at the Last Few Months, Part 4: Conference of Lawyers Without Borders Canada, the AGM of Canadian Parents for French, an Entité 4 Meeting, the Forum de lutte à l’itinérance 2013 and Franconnexion

2013.12.17 - Billet Retour sur les derniers mois, quatrième partie FR

Commissioner François Boileau with the President of CPF, Ms. Lisa Marie Perkins, in Victoria.

Following my first, second and third blog posts on various important events that I attended in 2013, I will begin today’s post with a review of the annual conference of Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), “Changing society through the law”, which was held in Québec on October 5. I had the opportunity to take part in the conference’s second panel discussion, on strategic litigation in Canada, a way of bringing down the barriers to the full realization of human rights. My presentation was on collective language rights litigation in Canada and its impact on Francophone minorities.

Two weeks later, on October 18, I was in Victoria, British Columbia, to attend the national Annual General Meeting of Canadian Parents for French (CPF). Once more I extend my thanks to the entire CPF team for their warm welcome, and for again having given relations with Ontario’s Francophones prominent billing in the coordination of this event. Fittingly, the title of my presentation was “Rapprochement between Francophiles and Francophones: An evolving dialogue”.

On October 21, 2013, I gave a presentation at a meeting of the board of directors of Entité 4 in Toronto to provide its members with a description of the new approach being taken by the Commissioner’s Office and to engage in a constructive dialogue on their work and progress.

Two days later, on October 23, I was in Ottawa to attend the Forum de lutte à l’itinérance 2013 of the Coalition pour prévenir l’itinérance chez les francophones d’Ottawa (CPIFO), an event that dovetails perfectly with one of the current priorities of the Commissioner’s Office, which is to pay special attention to the needs of disadvantaged groups in the area of access to high-quality French-language services.

I took advantage of this visit to Ottawa to meet with the Centre multiservices francophone de l’Ouest d’Ottawa (CMFO) and to “kill two birds with one stone”, so to speak, by attending the great debate “La jeunesse francophone en plein envol” [Francophone youth in the ascendant], held as part of the Symposium on Ontario’s Official Languages, “Franconnexion, a wonderful (and highly successful, I might add) event organized by the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO).

I will return soon with a fifth blog post in this review of various significant events that I attended in 2013.

A Look Back at the Last Few Months, Part 3: The Reflet Salvéo Forum, a Conference in London, the OMSSA Symposium, a Visit to Sudbury, the Association of Ontario Health Centres and the Table de concertation francophone de London

Following the recent publication of the first and second blog posts to highlight a number of events that I attended in 2013, today I’m going back to the month of June, my first stop being June 6, which, by the way, was the day after my 2012-2013 Annual Report was released. It was on that date that Reflet Salvéo held a forum entitled “La Francophonie au pluriel : en parler pour mieux la comprendre et mieux la servir” [Francophonie in the plural: let’s talk about it so we can understand and serve it better], which I attended as a guest speaker.

A few days later, on June 11, 2013, there was a conference on the active delivery of French-language services in London, which focused more specifically on the recruitment and retention of bilingual staff, like another conference I attended previously in Kingston. I gave a presentation on the subject, bearing in mind the third recommendation of my 2012-2013 Annual Report, of course, especially since I had just made it public the previous day.

Then, on June 17, I attended the Learning Symposium, “Whole Child = Whole Community and the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA), under the umbrella of a single event, and I gave a speech on the importance of the active offer of French-language services.

On September 12, I delivered an address at the Annual General Meeting of the Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin in Sudbury, after which I met with the organization’s Francophone staff members as part of an internal summit. I took advantage of my visit to Sudbury to meet with Pierre Riopel, the new president of Collège Boréal, and to participate in an ACFO du Grand Sudbury conference luncheon, which Mr. Riopel attended as a guest speaker.

Next, on September 17, I gave a presentation to the board of directors of the Association of Ontario Health Centres in Toronto. I am grateful to the Association for its very warm welcome.

On September 18, I was in London for a networking luncheon of the Table de concertation francophone de London (TCFLO), organized in conjunction with the Centre communautaire régional de London, as part of a regional exhibition on French-language services.

I will continue my year-end review in a subsequent blog post, covering other important events that I had the opportunity to attend in 2013. See you soon!

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

2013.12.13 - Billet The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario ENIn a recent paper, The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s (HEQCO) provides An Overview of Francophone Postsecondary Education Participation in Ontario that explores, among other things, the potential repercussions of having significantly limited options in French-language postsecondary education (PSE) in Ontario.

On the premise that education is needed to maintain prosperity, HEQCO’s report outlines the need for both equity and linguistic vitality in order to sustain a thriving Francophone Ontario:

  1. Equity: Are Francophones in Ontario participating in PSE at the same rate as their Anglophone counterparts? Are Francophone students choosing to pursue their postsecondary studies in French and does the postsecondary education system allow them to do so?
  2. Vitality: If Francophone communities are to thrive, they need to have options to speak, work and participate in the community at large, in their mother tongue.

The report findings include highlighting the need for more data to properly analyse the situation. According to the report, Francophone students in Ontario are accessing and graduating from postsecondary institutions at a comparable rate to their Anglophone counterparts, but the available data excludes certain Francophone groups and does not reflect the current diversity of Francophones pursuing PSE in Ontario.

However, the lack of French language program offering and geographical locations continue to be significant barriers in maintaining the linguistic vitality of communities in Ontario.

Improving the representation of French-language PSE landscape in education, especially in Central-Southwestern Ontario has been a big concern of mine and I am pleased to see HEQCO broach this subject in their recently published paper.

I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that we still haven’t received an update from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities with regards to the first two recommendations in my report which both focus on improving the collection of data:

  1. Expanding the collection of data from French-language education of rights-holders to include immersion students, those who belong to exogamous and allophone households, as well as Francophiles.
  2. Using the Ontario Education Number (OEN), linked with linguistics variables, throughout students’ academic life, from early learning to postsecondary and beyond. The OEN should also be amended to include language-based questions that are based on multiple questions or indicators, versus a single-factor indicator.

Independence of the Commissioner: A Done Deal

2013.12.12 - Billet Indépendance du commissaire FR-ENRoyal Assent by the Lieutenant Governor was given yesterday to Bill 106, French Language Services Amendment Act (French Language Services Commissioner), 2013, following the unanimous adoption of the bill in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario last Wednesday, making the independence of the French Language Services Commissioner a done deal! This change will come into effect as of January 1, 2014, less than three weeks away.

As I stated enthusiastically in the news release  my office published yesterday, with the independence of the French Language Services Commissioner, Ontario’s Francophonie is being given a permanent presence in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is a historic step forward in recognizing and safeguarding the rights of Ontario’s Francophone citizens.

I would like to thank all parliamentarians ─ particularly the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, and the opposition parties’ Francophone Affairs Critics ─ for their unwavering leadership and support in the unanimous adoption of this bill.

I would also like to thank the organisations that attended yesterday’s consideration of  Bill 106 by the Standing Committee, on the Legislative Assembly: Canadian Parents for French (Ontario); Roxane Villeneuve Robertson, Ontario PC candidate in the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell; the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO), which published a news release on this subject on September 27 and another one yesterday; and the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO), which conducted an important campaign that included  400 letters of support which were sent to Mr. Garfield Dunlop, Chair of the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, as well as other MPPs. AFO also  published at least four news releases on the independence of the Commissioner, including one this morning.

It is with eagerness that I look to the Francophone and Francophile communities across the province to help build this institution, which will be tailored to their needs. I will be revisiting the question of independence of the Commissioner in the months ahead to keep you updated on this transition, which will lead to a new institution belonging to all Franco-Ontarians and which will be an integral part of the Legislative Assembly.