Action plan for disadvantaged population
The government’s response to the first recommendation in the last annual report was both disappointing and incomprehensible, given that it was intended to provide a voice to the voiceless by requesting that an action plan be developed so that the most vulnerable groups in our society might enjoy easy access to the French-language services they need.
The Commissioner recognizes that “the development of tools and resources for front-line, policy and program staff “ – as stated by the government’s response – does amount to a set of initiatives that are commendable.
Nonetheless, these initiatives, which are vague and devoid of any concrete commitment, are far from enough to meet the needs of a silent class within the population. Indeed, examples abound of intervening parties that appealed directly to the Commissioner’s Office on behalf of their users in order to address egregious failures to provide services in French.
The Commissioner considers that each reported case shows the tip of the iceberg, especially when it comes to ministries providing services to the most vulnerable members of society.
The Commissioner’s Office is committed to looking more closely at what lies beneath the tip of the iceberg and to addressing this very important issue for disadvantaged populations. In fact, the Commissioner even intends to ask the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs to require action plans for the delivery of French-language services, as the law empowers her to do, from certain ministries identified as priorities by the Commissioner’s Office, the idea being that each ministry evaluates and understands the specific needs of its vulnerable Francophone clients in order to design and plan appropriate programs and services.
It is difficult to comprehend, despite the obvious stakes, why the Commissioner must continue to press the issue.