What a busy year we’ve had in the Commissioner’s Office, beginning with the entry into effect of Bill 106, the French Language Services Amendment Act (French Language Services Commissioner), 2013, concerning the independence of the Commissioner’s Office. On January 1, the Office became part of the Legislative Assembly, and as an officer of the Assembly, I gained 107 new bosses overnight!
Of course, most of the many changes that have taken place during this transition period are purely administrative. In the longer term, however, this important amendment to the FLSA gives Ontario’s Francophonie a permanent presence in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
I would like to point out that from the beginning of my first term, we have worked very hard to build relationships with the government, ensure the visibility of the Commissioner’s Office and serve our client group.Now, as the Commissioner’s Office makes a new start, the team has seized the opportunity, concentrating on our future priorities and setting new short‑, medium- and long-term goals.Guided by major strategic focuses, these goals will remain relevant for the organization, regardless of the circumstances.
Throughout this transition, the Office pursued its usual operations, and I went to every part of the province to continue the dialogue with the citizens of Ontario and with community groups. We also had our share of speeches and other appearances over the past year, in addition to maintaining, or even enhancing, our strong social media presence.
This has also been a productive year in the area of official contacts, with the signing of a number of agreements on complaint handling with organizations such as the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and Elections Ontario. We pursued our cooperative contacts with our counterparts on the immigration issue, with a proposal to adopt four guiding principles aimed at increasing Francophone immigration outside Quebec, and the release of a joint report with my federal counterpart in which we examine the current situation and present a pan-Canadian analysis and a series of recommendations for the two levels of government.In addition, we launched two special investigations, one on health, specifically Penetanguishene General Hospital, and the other on governance in education as it relates to the Centre Jules-Léger. These reports are scheduled for publication in the first half of next year.
A number of issues remain outstanding with regard to the Office’s finances and securing the necessary resources to continue our excellent work, but that won’t stop me from meeting with my fellow officers frequently, pursuing the dialogue with cabinet ministers and continuing my conversation with MPPs, with whom I met three times this fall to present the recommendations in my 2013-2014 annual report.
We have a lot of work ahead of us in 2015, but first, it’s now time to recharge our batteries so that we’ll be ready to continue making progress on language rights. On that note, I wish you a wonderful holiday period filled with love and good memories in the company of the people you love. My next blog post will be in early January.