Presentation to the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services

Overview – French Language Services Act

Presented by François Boileau French Language Services Commissioner

Ottawa – December 19, 2011

Icône PDF — Petit PDF Version

A diverse and growing community

  • Dates back 400 years in Ontario
  • Approximately 600,000 Francophones (4.8% of the province’s total population)
  • 60% of Francophones were born in Ontario, while 14% were born outside of Canada, mainly in Europe and Africa
  • In Toronto, nearly half of all Francophones were born outside of Canada

Goal of the French Language Services Act

  • The Act’s preamble states that, “…the French language is an historic and honoured language in Ontario and recognized by the Constitution as an official language of Canada,” and that, “… the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations.”
  • This means that all government ministries and agencies have an important role to play in the preservation and enhancement of Francophone communities throughout Ontario.
  • A community’s development depends on the services that it is offered. A community is much more likely to thrive if it has access to services that are adapted to its needs.

Interpretation of the FLSA

  • “The Bill was the result of years of successive steps toward the goal of providing services to francophones in their own language.
  • The Bill received the unanimous support of all three political parties represented in the Legislative Assembly, and amendments were proposed with a view to ensuring its protections would be met.”
  • “One of the underlying purposes and objectives of the Act was the protection of the minority francophone population in Ontario…”
  • “… another was the advancement of the French language and promotion of its equality with English. These purposes coincide with the underlying unwritten principles of the Constitution of Canada.”

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

Interpretation of “services”

  • Offering FLS is more than a matter of translation; it means developing services responsive to the needs of Ontario’s Francophone community so that it can grow and prosper.
  • Equivalent services are those that meet the needs of the communities served.
  • In accordance with the norm of substantive equality, services must be equal in quality, though differently offered.
  • “Depending on the nature of the service in question… substantive equality will not result from the development and implementation of identical services for each language community. The content of the principle of linguistic equality in government services is not necessarily uniform. It must be defined in light of the nature and purpose of the service in question.”

DesRochers v. Canada (Industry), 2009 SCC 8

Key elements of French Language Services (FLS)

  • Planning and integrating services in French as soon as a governmental initiative arises.
  • Adapt FLS to the specific needs of the Francophone population (health, immigration, education, employment, etc…).
  • Active offer and substantive equality of services delivered to the population.

Active offer

Active offer of FLS requires the creation of an environment conducive to requests for such services and anticipates the specific needs of Francophones.

Active offer must be…

  • results-oriented;
  • integrated into an overall service delivery model;
  • proactive;
  • the result of a dialogue with the population served and ultimately reflective of their needs;
  • in place for the lifecycle of the service, activity or initiative.

FLS by third-party agencies: Reg. 284/11

  • 2. (1) … every government agency shall ensure that all services that a third party provides to the public on its behalf under an agreement between the agency and the third party are provided in accordance with the Act.
  • 2. (2) … every government agency shall ensure that a third party providing a service in French to the public on its behalf shall take appropriate measures, including providing signs, notices and other information on services and initiating communication with the public, to make it known to members of the public that the service is available in French at the choice of any member of the public.

Franco-Ontarians as engaged partners

FLSC Annual Report 2010-2011: A Shared Engagement

Recommendation 1:

The Commissioner recommends that the Franco-Ontarian community take an active part in renewing the devlivery of government services by proposing innovative, pragmatic, results-oriented means and methods to ensure its development.

The 2011 Budget – Turning the corner

  • The Government has stated it will focus on outcomes rather than on how the programs and services are delivered.
  • If outcomes are what counts, how services are delivered is key to their effectiveness for the enhancement of the Franco-Ontarian community.
  • Privatization is not the optimal solution in the context of a linguistic minority;
  • private entities that provide “bilingual services” rarely work – cannot be the easy fix:
    • Private sector services are typically run on a fee-for-service basis
    • FLS are seen as a hurdle, with little incentive to comply
    • ‘Active offer’ of FLS is a difficult concept to comprehend and implement

Part of the solution

Creation of workspaces, in designated areas, where the language of work would be French, but where service delivery could be offered in both English and French.

Bilingual Service Centres in Manitoba

  • Single window approach
  • Regional characteristics and services that correspond
  • Federal, provincial, municipal, community-based services
  • Promoting the use of French as the language of work and day-to-day operations/interactions within the Centres
  • Creation of a hub for bilingual government services in designated areas

ACFOMI Employment Services in Kingston

Service Ontario in New Liskeard

These centres would not only serve as a consolidated access point for services, but they would also provide the community with a place where French is the dominant language. We need to break down the culture of silos between ministries

Multi-service Centre Project cannot see the light of day in Thunder Bay because no one is willing to pick up the tab for capital costs, though many government projects are possible:

  • Community Centre
  • Health Services, including Mental Health
  • Justice Sector, including services for women
  • Postsecondary courses

Suggested recommendation (draft)

Government must break down the culture of silos within its ministries and departments and work with Franco-Ontarian stakeholders to develop innovative, pragmatic and results-oriented means of delivering services.

Questions, comments, suggestions?

Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
700 Bay Street, Suite 2401
Toronto, ON M7A 2H8

Toll-free: 1 866 246-5262
Toronto area: 416 314-8013
Fax: 416 314-8331
TTY: 416 314-0760
Email: flsc-csf@ontario.ca
Website: www.flsc.gov.on.ca
Twitter: @FLSContario

2010-2011 Annual Report: Message to the media

This message to the media was delivered by the French Language Services Commissioner when presenting his 2010-2011 Annual Report.

Icône PDF — Grand 2010-2011 Annual Report: Message to the media


2010-2011 Annual Report


François Boileau
French Language Services
Commissioner of Ontario

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

1:30 p.m.

Media Studio
Queen’s Park Legislative Building
Toronto, Ontario

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to present to you my fourth annual report, as French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario.

This year’s report is entitled A shared engagement — a title that speaks to our mission to ensure that Ontarians receive high-quality French-language services (i) from the Government of Ontario, (ii) from its classified agencies, and (iii) from third parties providing services on its behalf.

It is a shared engagement, because this important mission cannot be accomplished alone.

Indeed, providing quality French-language services is a responsibility that is shared between (i) members of the Franco-Ontarian community (ii) the Government of Ontario which has a legal obligation to supply these services, and (iii) the French Language Services Commissioner whose mandate is to ensure compliance with the French Language Services Act.

This year, my first recommendation is addressed directly to the Franco-Ontarian community, in light of the Government’s announced intention to reform the way it delivers public services.

Indeed, I encourage Franco-Ontarians to take an active part in this process by
proposing innovative, pragmatic and results-oriented means and methods to ensure the development of our community.

But for this to happen, the government must be prepared to listen and put aside the typical ministry-by-ministry, department-by-department approach. We must break down the culture of silos.

Some people out there think that the goal of the FLSA is to provide services to unilingual French-speaking people. Of course, it is certainly one of the effect intended by this Act. But it is not its goal.

The goal of the FLSA is double. One of the underlying purposes and objectives of the Act is the protection of the minority francophone population in Ontario. It is to recognize the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French-speaking population and it is the wish of the Legislative Assembly to preserve it for future generations.

Another goal is the advancement of the French language and promotion of its
equality with English. These purposes coincide with the underlying unwritten principles of the Constitution of Canada.

Being Franco-Ontarian is a choice that has to be made every day. It is not as easy as it sounds to keep his or her own language in a sea of English. The threat of assimilation is very real. And if we lose our ability to have a strong Franco-Ontarian community, we lose an important edge in this day and age where the whole world is getting so small and competition so fierce.

It is the government’s duty to help keep the French fact alive and to make the
Franco-Ontarian’s choice to remain Francophone easier. If we fail, it will open wider the door to assimilation and to the impoverishment of our collective heritage.

The government must understand that the best way to offer services to the FrancoOntarian community is to adopt an integrated approach that favours its development. This could be accomplished through a number of concepts, including multi-service centres where French would be the dominant language.

My report also contains a message to those municipalities that offer Frenchlanguage services but do not have a bylaw to guarantee these services. It is time to act and adopt such a bylaw to protect French-languages services for generations to come.

Such measures not only contribute to the survival and development of the
Francophone community but also ensure that the delivery of French-language services doesn’t hinge on the political goodwill of the municipal council of the day.

In 2010-2011 the Commissioner’s Office convinced the government to act in several key areas benefiting Franco-Ontarians.

For example (i) in May 2010, the Government adopted a mandatory Communications in French Directive that applies to all government ministries and agencies (ii) 2010 also saw the creation of six new French Language Health Planning Entities, and (iii) the government announced in March of this year that it was amending the Community Care Access Corporations Act, to ensure that the French Language Services Act applies to Community Care Access Centres.

These satisfactory results — obtained through our partnership with complainants — are illustrated in table format, in Chapter 4. This table shows that out of 13 recommendations presented to the Government since our 2007-2008 annual report, 10 have been adopted or are in the process of being implemented.

Complaints from citizens fuel our desire to find solutions — for individuals, and for all Franco-Ontarians. And my sole objective is simple: to improve French-language services, now and for future generations. Recommendations 3 and 4 of my report are perfect examples.

Recommendation 3 deals with the government’s attempt to promote energy
conservation through Ontario Power Authority’s saveONenergy campaign.

This campaign saw the distribution of 5 million coupon booklets to households, in English-only, despite the existence of French-language promotional material.

That’s why I’m recommending that the OPA, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation be subject to the French Language Services Act, insofar as their programs, services and communications targeting the general public are concerned.

And I have a similar recommendation regarding Waste Diversion Ontario that currently does not provide any information in French, thus excluding Francophones from being properly informed when it comes to reduction, reuse, and recycling. The Ministry of Environment must act.

Excluding Francophones is unacceptable.

This fourth annual report also presents first-hand accounts of citizens who have accepted to speak out publicly to improve services for their community. Some of these clients are here with us today and would be glad to share their story with you.

It would be difficult indeed to improve French-language services in this province without the help of citizens… to whom I must say thank you.