1 complaint received per day in 2013–2014
In the 2013–2014 fiscal year, the Commissioner’s Office received 280 complaints. It received, again this year, a large number of individual complaints on a wide variety of issues and genuine concerns ranging from the lack of French-language service at a service counter to unilingual-English public consultations and situations where services were available but not equivalent.
Complaints by category
Of the 280 complaints received in the past year, 216 led to an investigation and 190 were deemed admissible. This represents nearly 68% of the total number of complaints received during the period, while 64 complaints were determined to be inadmissible.
|Complaints received between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014|
|Other types of complaints||17|
Inadmissible complaints are divided into five categories: provincial, federal, municipal, private sector, and trivial/frivolous/vexatious/in bad faith. Inadmissible complaints in the Provincial category include cases dealing with non-designated regions, organizations not subject to the FLSA but under the government’s control, or those affected by a government decision or restructuring of services. In fact, the “Provincial” and “Private sector” categories together account for 75% of inadmissible complaints.
Inadmissible complaints are by no means devoid of interest. In many cases, the Commissioner’s Office forwards them to the organizations concerned with the aim of suggesting improvements that, though outside the framework of the Act, would better reflect the spirit of the law or promote excellence in service to the public.
|Frivole/vexatoire/de mauvaise foi||2|
The Commissioner’s Office also received 17 complaints in the “other types ”* category. This category (Table 3) includes cases involving either independent bodies or entities created, mandated or funded by the government.
In 2014-2014, most of these complaints were about independent organizations such as the Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates the legal and paralegal profession in Ontario. The cases are being investigated, but they will not be added to the statistics for government institutions.
|Other types of complaints|
There were 190 ministry-related complaints this fiscal year (Table 4). Because of the new approach adopted by the Commissioner’s Office, only the total number of admissible complaints is recorded in the table of complaints for the institutions concerned. The aim is to report the situation as it was on March 31, 2014, in order to be as objective and transparent as possible with the institutions that were the subject of citizen complaints. In fact, between the time the writing is completed and the time the report is published, many of the complaints listed were resolved. The team in the Commissioner’s Office works extremely hard to find permanent, pragmatic solutions to the problems raised.
This work is carried out in cooperation with the stakeholders, always with a view to improving the quality and availability of French-language services. While some complaints lead to cases that can be resolved in a relatively short time, others have to do with systemic problems that require in-depth research and may therefore take longer. These efforts and results are not reflected in a table whose function is to report the situation at the end of the fiscal year.
|Number of Admissible Complaints by Institution|
|Institution|| Admissible complaints
|Designated agencies **||8|
|Ministry of the Attorney General||11|
|Ministry of Children and Youth Services||7|
|Ministry of Community and Social Services||4|
|Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services||4|
|Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment||1|
|Ministry of Education||7|
|Ministry of Energy||3|
|Ministry of the Environment||1|
|Ministry of Finance||15|
|Ministry of Government Services||26|
|Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care||43|
|Ministry of Infrastructure||1|
|Ministry of Labour||4|
|Ministry of Natural Resources||4|
|Ministry of Northern Development and Mines||2|
|Ministry of Research and Innovation||1|
|Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport||11|
|Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities||9|
|Ministry of Transportation||9|
The key ministries that serve the public directly — the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Government Services, the Ministry of Finance and, the Ministry of the Attorney General — account for half of the complaints received in 2013-2014.
Geographic distribution of complaints
The geographic origin of complaints received in 2013-2014 reflects fairly well the geographic distribution of Francophones in Ontario*****. Central, Eastern, and Northeastern Ontario — regions with large concentrations of Francophones — had the highest volumes of complaints to the Commissioner’s Office, as shown in Table 5. The table also shows that more than 50 % of all complaints came from Eastern Ontario, followed by Central Ontario with 32% of total complaints. Nearly 9% of complaints originated in Northeastern Ontario. Together, Central and Eastern Ontario account for more than 85% of complaints received in 2013-2014.
|Geographic distribution of complaints, 2013-2014|
Finally, it is important to note that obtaining an accurate picture of the geographic origins of complaints is a complex undertaking because residents are highly mobile today and government services are provided in various forms made possible by new communications technologies. A person from Timmins, for instance, may want to complain about the poor quality of French-language services in the North Bay area or unsatisfactory telephone service provided by an employee located in Ottawa. However, this table is based exclusively on the complainants’ place of residence, a criterion that measures the Francophone community’s awareness of the Commissioner’s Office.
In the period covered by this seventh annual report, the Commissioner’s Office received a total of 53 requests for information on a wide range of topics. The majority of the requests had to do with French-language services, obligations specified in the French Language Services Act, and interpretations of the Act.
Many citizens also requested information about notably the active offer of French language services and the process of designation under the Act. Others contacted the Commissioner’s Office to obtain statistical data on the Francophone community.
The Commissioner’s Office handled these requests within a reasonable timeframe by either referring the client to the appropriate office or providing the desired information.
*Other types of complaints are difficult to categorize. They primarily concern the delivery of services where a member of the public has no other option because the agency has a monopoly on the service. These complaints are within the provincial government’s purview and relate to agencies created or mandated by various ministries to offer programs and services that, in cases of devolution, were previously delivered by the province.
**These complaints relate to agencies and institutions designated under the French Language Services Act.
***These complaints relate to entities that report directly to the Legislative Assembly.
****These complaints are deemed admissible when they are brought against a municipality that has a by-law that guarantees the provision of French-language services.
******According to the profile of the Francophone community published by the Office of Francophone Affairs in May 2013, the distribution of the Francophone population varies by region: almost two thirds of the province’s Francophones live in Eastern and Northeastern Ontario (42.2% in Eastern Ontario and 20.8% in Northeastern Ontario). Three out of ten Francophones (30%) live in Central Ontario, and nearly a third of that group is concentrated in Toronto. Southwestern Ontario and Northwestern Ontario account for nearly 5.7% and 1.2% of the Francophone population respectively.