1. Thirty years of the French Language Services Act

“(…) the governments of Ontario had, over the years, changed their policy toward the French language. The Bill was the result of years of successive steps toward the goal of providing services to Francophones in their own language.” — Court of Appeal for Ontario1

It took years of struggle to get the French Language Services Act passed. In fact, its unanimous adoption in 1986 was the result of demands made more than a century ago by the French-speaking community to have its rights recognized.

The then Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, the Honourable Bernard Grandmaître2, deserves all the credit for the passage of Bill 8, which became the French Language Services Act. An important and historic gain, the Act was also a bet on the future of a community.

But now, 30 years have passed without a major revision of the Act. That is too long. The Ontario of the 1980s no longer exists. The face of the Francophonie has changed. Cultural diversity has emerged. Attitudes are different, as are modes of communication for that matter. In the era of social media, Ontario’s Francophonie is evolving, but its rights have not kept pace.

Thirty years ago, the French Language Services Act served as a model and a trail-blazer for other legislation. Things are very different in 2016. Other legislatures have passed more modern laws that better reflect today’s realities. That is particularly true of Prince Edward Island and Nunavut, from which Ontario can now take inspiration.

It is in this context that the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario is devoting this annual report to a revision of the French Language Services Act.

1 Lalonde v. Ontario (Commission de restructuration des services de santé) (2001) 56 O.R. (3d) 577, para. 142.

2 The contribution of the opposition MPP, the Honourable Albert Roy, must not be forgotten. He had also filed a bill to that effect a few years previous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *