Over the last six years, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner has paved the way for citizens seeking French-language services in Ontario. In so doing, it has developed a relationship of trust and built strong ties with its complainants, with the government and with the organizations that defend the rights and meet the needs of Francophones, Francophiles and newcomers in Ontario.
The Commissioner’s Office has also gradually acquired tools to help it more effectively fulfil its vision of ensuring active, integrated delivery of French-language services in support of the development of the Francophone community and Ontarian society. Among those tools are a competent, committed staff, a meticulous approach to processing complaints, and strategic partnerships with other organizations whose mandate is also to serve the interests of the province’s Francophone citizens. It is worth noting that the government has participated in the vision of the Commissioner’s Office, with the result that the road that the latter paved in 2007 has gradually led to changes and opened up solutions for Francophone citizens.
The Commissioner also expanded his horizons by travelling to the four corners of Ontario to meet the various Francophone communities, participate in their events and observe their challenges first-hand. After all, compliance with the letter and spirit of the French Language Services Act is not solely up to the Commissioner’s Office; it is a shared engagement with Ontarians and their government. Without Francophone citizens who take action and a government that listens, it would certainly be difficult to go straight forward toward far-reaching progress.
Today the Commissioner wants to take advantage of everything he has managed to develop in the past — all those relationships and strong connections and all those tools — and engage the government in implementing a new approach in which government ministries and agencies will work in closer collaboration with the Commissioner’s Office, viewing complaints from a systemic perspective.
In particular, this new approach will contribute to greater consideration of the needs of disadvantaged populations. In the Commissioner’s view, it is important not to underestimate the positive impact of the active offer of French-language services at the initial point of contact, especially in the case of disadvantaged populations. In fact, this is why he regards as vital the development of a government directive concerning active offer and another concerning the development and implementation of a human resources plan for French-language services.
The Commissioner is grateful to all the complainants who go out of their way year after year to tell him how important their right to obtain services in French in Ontario is to them. With his new approach, the Commissioner wanted to encourage citizens and government ministries and agencies to use the array of tools and communications that he has made available to them since he took office. He invites them to visit his new website, at www.flsc.gov.on.ca, and take advantage of these resources, now organized by service sector in the “News” section.
Ontario’s Francophonie is growing, evolving and reshaping itself rapidly. At the same time, every organization must adapt to its environment and revitalize itself periodically to keep achieving its goals. The Commissioner is pleased that his office is taking a new approach that will enable it, in collaboration with the government and the complainants, to serve the needs of Ontario’s Francophone citizens even more effectively.