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Ontario proposes amendments to modernize French Languages Services Act

Friday, November 05, 2021 @ 2:25 PM | By Amanda Jerome

On Nov. 5, the Ontario government announced proposed amendments to “modernize the French Languages Services Act,” which hasn’t had a “substantial review of the legislation since its introduction 35 years ago.”

According to a government release, the proposed modernized Act is “part of a broader strategy to build capacity for French-language services in the province, including a cross-government approach to address shortages of French-speaking professionals in key sectors.”

The amendments, the release noted, “follow a thorough review of the existing law and extensive public consultations” held over the summer.

“They would require government agencies, as set out under the Act, to ensure French-language services are readily available according to the principle of active offer as set out in the legislation. The changes would shift the onus of finding these services from users (people requesting services in French) to service providers,” the release added, noting the legislation would “add the option to designate more points of service throughout the province.”

The amendments would also “strengthen accountability by requiring, if passed, that the Act be reviewed at least once every 10 years to ensure it meets the changing needs of the Franco-Ontarian community.”

Francophone Affairs Minister Caroline Mulroney said in a statement that “this historic milestone would substantially improve access to French-language services for francophones.”

“This legislation, combined with our broader strategy for French-language services, would increase Ontarians’ access to readily available services in French, provided by bilingual workers,” she added.

According to the release, the French Language Services Act, “adopted in 1986, sets out an individual’s right to receive services in French from government agencies, including ministries, as defined in the Act, and institutions of the Legislature.”

“Ontario,” the release added, “is home to more than 620,000 francophones, representing the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec.”

“Overall, more than 1.5 million Ontarians speak French,” the release explained.

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