In 2009, the government announced that it was going ahead with the transformation of the legal aid system. Over the past year, Legal Aid Ontario has funded projects to enhance French-language service delivery through its legal aid clinics. To this end, community legal aid clinics in Vanier, Toronto, and Sudbury have introduced French toll-free legal aid telephone lines. These clinics play a key role in the administration of justice in Ontario. In light of this, Legal Aid Ontario has been listening to the members of advisory committees, three of which deal with French-language services, and to stakeholders in the context of the Strategic Plan undertaken by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
With Ontario House, the Ontario 2010 Olympics Secretariat ensured that Ontario was well-represented at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The Secretariat paid special attention to compliance with the French Language Services Act, ensuring that, in addition to signage and touch screen menus in French, employees who spoke French were identified by a pin that said Bonjour! Events at Ontario House included performances by Franco-Ontarian singer-songwriter Damien Robitaille and Swing.
In partnership with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Office of Francophone Affairs published a new Profile of Ontario’s Francophone Community in December 2009. This report provides an overview of the community, profiling a variety of economic, social, and demographic aspects. It is the first report to include statistics that take the new more inclusive definition of Francophone into account. This definition was adopted in June 2009 in response to a recommendation by the Commissioner in 2008. More detailed profiles on youth, women, seniors, and visible minorities in the Francophone community will be produced at a later date.
In 2009, the north east local Health integration network became the first LHIN to adopt a French-language health services policy. Endorsed by the LHIN’s Board of Directors, this policy will help to ensure that French service offer is more fully taken into account throughout the territory served by the LHIN. It will help the LHIN to meet its legal obligations under the French Language Services Act. The adoption of this policy is all the more noteworthy because it preceded the adoption of Ontario regulation 515/09, Engagement with the Francophone Community under Section 16 of the Act, which came into force in January 2010.
The Ministry of tourism and Culture conducted market research to determine which recreational activities appeal to Franco-Ontarians. This research was then used to develop a strategy to promote recreational activities to Ontario’s Francophones. Since January 2010, the Ministry has coordinated the distribution of brochures and pamphlets in French on a variety of seasonal activities that reflect the interests of this target market.
At the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Community and Social Services announced that two new shelters for Francophone women would be created. One of these shelters, , will be the first of its kind in Toronto. It will accommodate 20 women and their children fleeing domestic violence and help them to rebuild their lives. In 2008-2009, shelters across the province helped 13,000 women and 9,000 children.