At the risk of oversimplifying, let’s assume that acts reflect the lawmakers’ general intentions, while regulations reflect the details of how acts are to be implemented. This means that regulations are often more useful to the average citizen, since they often contain concrete information about what he or she has to do to comply with the act. However, in Ontario, while laws are valid only if they are in both official languages, regulations are valid even if they are in English only. A good example of this is Ontario’s Building Code. Although the act that establishes the Code and lays the groundwork for a healthy construction industry in Ontario is in both languages, the Code itself is in English only. In short, a Francophone in Ontario who is not fluent in English does not have access to as complete a regulatory framework as does an Anglophone citizen. As a result of this inequitable situation, the Commissioner asked the Attorney General to ensure that regulations that are particularly useful to citizens are translated into French.
Since 2009, the Commissioner has received many positive reports in this regard, and this year is no exception. In 2013–2014, the Ministry of the Attorney General continued to invest a significant level of human and financial resources in the translation of regulations, which produced noteworthy results, as 43% of regulations now have an official French version. While the initial goal of 50% was not achieved, at the time this report was written, 40% of the remaining unilingual regulations were in the process of being translated. According to the Ministry, it is only a matter of time before 65% of all regulations will be bilingual.
In addition, a number of ministries are expected to have almost all of their regulations available in both English and French in the near future. When this is complete, progress will have been made in a variety of areas that affect the health and working lives of Ontario’s citizens.