Direct Services to the Public
Vehicle Licence Plates
Vehicle registration in Ontario
Vehicle registration in Ontario is the responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation and its ServiceOntario division, and both organizations’ services to the public are subject to the French Language Services Act. The Commissioner’s Office once again acknowledges the excellent cooperative relationship with the Ministry and the quality of the French-language services provided by ServiceOntario, including, since 2011, obtaining a French-language licence plate.
French-language licence plates
In 2011, to the delight of the Commissioner’s Office, the Ontario government began offering citizens the option of having a French-language licence plate. This means that you can order a plate with the slogan “Tant à découvrir” instead of “Yours to discover”, or a plate with the Franco-Ontarian flag. On the other hand, there are some restrictions on combining the slogan with other graphics, and not all vehicle types can have a plate with the Franco-Ontarian flag.
The “Tant à découvrir” slogan
The Commissioner’s Office was pleased when, in 2008, the government started putting the province’s French slogan “Tant à découvrir” on licence plates. As a result, you can get a standard plate with the French slogan, or a unique personalized plate with a message that you compose using up to eight characters (letters or numbers), combined with the “Tant à découvrir” slogan. Note that the cost of changing or replacing the plate is the same as for English-language “Yours to discover” plates.
The Franco-Ontarian flag
Through ServiceOntario, citizens can order and proudly display the Franco-Ontarian flag on their licence plates. The Franco-Ontarian flag is one of about 60 graphics that Ontario drivers can order and for which the costs are the same for all plate types. However, the French slogan “Tant à découvrir” is only available with the Franco-Ontarian licence plate, i.e., the plate with the flag. The Commissioner’s Office and the Ministry of Transportation are still working together to resolve this exception, which is due to a technical formality. Fortunately, the costs are the same.
Combination problems and exceptions
Despite the exemplary goodwill that the government showed in 2008 by introducing licence plates with the French slogan “Tant à découvrir”, it has not always been as easy for Francophone citizens to obtain those plates as it is for Anglophone citizens to obtain English-language plates. Unlike the latter, plates with the “Tant à découvrir” slogan could not be personalized and were not available for commercial trucks. The Commissioner’s Office described this inequality of service in its annual report and approached the Ministry of Transportation, which was very receptive and immediately resolved these issues.
Nevertheless, even today, there remain some rather irritating restrictions. The French slogan is still unavailable for utility vehicles and motorcycles. In addition, the French slogan can’t be combined with any graphic other than the Franco-Ontarian flag, and you can’t get a personalized plate with the French slogan and a graphic other than the Franco-Ontarian flag. The Ministry recognized the predicament; the fact that a Francophone fan of the Ottawa Senators hockey club can order a plate with the Senators graphic and personalize it with the message “GOSENZ” but can’t combine it with the “Tant à découvrir” slogan doesn’t make sense. The Ministry and the Commissioner’s Office agree that this is inequality of service under the Act and are continuing their discussions.
The Ministry of Transportation has promised the Commissioner’s Office that it will study other options in the range of services available to citizens who want to order French-language licence plates, regardless of the type of vehicle they have or the graphic they want. This is a step in the right direction, with symbolic importance for the development of Franco-Ontarian pride.