Ontario Ombudsman's French Language Services Unit develops tool to assess French-language services (Law Times)

January 10, 2022

10 January 2022

Fairness, logistics, services, and communication are tool standards

Katrina Eñano
This link opens in a new tabLaw Times
January 10, 2022

The Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario’s French Language Services Unit has developed a diagnostic tool which is intended to assist the government in planning and evaluating French-language services across the province.

The diagnostic tool, called the French Language Services Commissioner’s Compass (FLSC Compass), seeks to measure the effectiveness of services in French using the following criteria:

  • Fairness: Is the service in French equivalent to that offered to the general population?

  • Logistics: Is service in French available and provided at all times?

  • Services: Is the experience of Francophones with the service positive?

  • Communication: Is the service in French well identified, communicated, and known within the community?

“Assessment is a crucial step in applying a Francophone lens,” Ontario French Language Services Commissioner Kelly Burke said. “The FLSC Compass is a practical tool with reference points designed to guide government towards the goal of providing equivalent services without delay.”

According to Burke, the French Language Services Unit had received 351 complaints related to accessing French-language services in 2021, a 15 per cent increase from 2020. Based on the complaints, French services are “often not equivalent to those offered in English” and regardless of whether or not French services are offered, “the experience Francophones have with them is not always positive.”

“Our office developed this tool based on our experience with hundreds of cases where Franco-Ontarians described the many ways in which they were affected by a lack of timely, good quality services in their language,” Burke said.  “This tool was built from their lived experience.”

Now part of the Ontario Ombudsman, the French Language Services Unit is tasked to review and investigate unresolved complaints and systemic issues, report publicly, and make recommendations to the government regarding the provision of French-language services to promote compliance with the French Language Services Act.