1.3.3. Formalization of an advisory council
In 2004, the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, to her credit, established the Provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs. This committee, composed of 12 representatives of the Franco-Ontarian community, often works behind the scenes and closed doors. It observes how the Act is implemented by ministries and agencies, frequently requests that senior managers attend its meetings, and provides advice to the Minister on public policy issues and other current issues that have an impact on the quality of French-language services.
It would be desirable to have this consultation process formalized in the Act, as it is in Prince Edward Island’s French Language Services Act. The committee’s work would therefore be enhanced.
Currently, the mandate of Ontario’s Provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs is to provide advice to the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs on the development of strategies, priorities and programs that affect Ontario’s Francophone community, and on the planning and delivery of government French-language services.
Prince Edward Island’s advisory committee is responsible for reviewing, out of the variety of services provided by a designated institution, those which are considered priority services for the province’s Acadian and Francophone community. This is an innovative and interesting concept, which takes advantage of the committee members’ expertise.
But it could do much more.
The membership of the committee, which should be converted into a council, should be standardized. The members could be appointed by the Minister.
There is already an important precedent in Ontario, since the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006, in section 14, specifies the composition of a French Language Health Services Advisory Council. The Council is mandated to advise the Minister about health and service delivery issues related to francophone communities, and priorities and strategies for the provincial strategic plan related to those communities.
This precedent may be highly useful. The government determined which organizations would have a seat on the council by regulation.
Consequently, the Commissioner recommends that the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs introduce a legislative amendment to the French Language Services Act concerning the establishment of a Provincial Advisory Council on Francophone Affairs, whose mandate would be the planning and delivery of French-language government services; and the development of strategies, priorities, intervention areas and programs that affect Ontario’s Francophone community. The Council could have as many as 12 members from various areas of the province.