1.4.2. Use of the IDF
As the Commissioner has pointed out before, the IDF is not always used systemically as a common or uniform measure by government ministries and agencies. Although the Office of Francophone Affairs developed a communications plan to make them aware of the importance of using the IDF, there is no getting around the fact that so far, little has changed.
In its Fact Sheet 6 on mother tongue and languages,12 the Ministry of Finance of Ontario does not take the IDF into account. According to the Ministry, it would require more research, and different definitions and concepts. This fact sheet only refers to mother tongue and other languages spoken. Similarly, the Ministry of Education does not use the IDF systematically in its analyses of French-language school enrolment.
Moreover, although specific IDF statistics produced by the Office of Francophone Affairs can be obtained upon request, they are not made publicly available for all regions or age groups. Also, the IDF is not available through public or semi-custom tabulations from Statistics Canada.13 Consequently, a provincial ministry, such as the Ministry of Finance, that wants specific data using the IDF has to submit a custom order to Statistics Canada.
Revision of the French Language Services Act would be a perfect opportunity to include a clause on the IDF. It would probably also encourage the Ontario government to try to persuade the federal government to add the IDF to the list of basic variables for ordering data.
Such a change would also be beneficial on other levels, including the integration of newcomers. Whether in relation to French-language school enrolment or admission policies in general, incorporating the IDF in the French Language Services Act would confirm the presence of a diverse community recognized by the Legislature, thereby sending a strong message to Francophone newcomers and the community.
Therefore, the Commissioner recommends that the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs consider incorporating the IDF into a revised Act, and even to consider revising the IDF in light of advances made in other provinces so that it remains inclusive and helps improve the planning of French-language services by all Ontario government ministries and agencies.
12 Available online: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/economy/demographics/census/cenhi11-6.pdf (page consulted in May 2016).
13 Note that Statistics Canada provides “adjustable” data for such categories as low-income cut-offs, which vary by household size, urban or rural area, and so on.