One complaint, 600 signs
December 7, 2023
7 December 2023
Our Unit handled a case involving more than 600 English-only road signs in Northern Ontario, reported by a Francophone who told us he drove more than 800 kilometres to document them.
Our Unit handled a case involving more than 600 English-only road signs in Northern Ontario, reported by a Francophone who told us he drove more than 800 kilometres to document them. The content of the signs ranged from notices about construction zones, to geographical information, to messaging like “Keeping Ontario Beautiful.”
This case brought to light many of the challenges intrinsic to providing French language services on Ontario’s roads and led us to conduct an in-depth review of road signage. We began by locating each sign to establish whether it fell under municipal or provincial jurisdiction, and whether it was compliant with the French Language Services Act. This review lasted more than six months. We found that more than 70% of the signs were municipal, which required verifying each municipality’s bylaws on bilingualism.
We also contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ministry of Transportation about English-only signs identifying natural features like lakes or rivers.
RESULT: As a result of our intervention, the two ministries have already agreed to make 12 signs bilingual.
This case opened the door to significant improvements to bilingual signage in regions designated by the French Language Services Act. However, our efforts and actions toward total compliance are still ongoing, given the sheer number of signs, the scope of changes to be made and the number of stakeholders from various ministries involved in the process. Our work continues and we invite all Franco-Ontarians to contact us about any English-only signs they encounter.
Learn more about the French Language Services Unit which answers questions and takes complaints about services in French.
Read about how we helped other people in our Selected cases.