Message from the Commissioner

Statement from the Commissioner on Bill 7, The More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022

Statement from the Commissioner on Bill 7, The More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022

(September 22, 2022) On August 31, Bill 7, the More Beds, Better Care Act, 2022 received Royal Assent.

The explanatory notes to the Act indicate that its purpose is to identify patients who occupy a bed in a public hospital and who are identified by an attending clinician as requiring a different level of care. These changes allow certain actions to be taken without the patient's consent. For example, a placement co-ordinator may determine a patient's eligibility for a long-term care home, select a home and authorize the patient's admission to the home.

The preamble to the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 states that the people of Ontario and their government recognize that long-term care and services must respect the requirements of the French Language Services Act in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of long-term care services for Ontario’s French-speaking communities. Section 51 explains that the placement co-ordinator shall consider the applicant’s preferences with respect to admission, based on ethnic, religious, spiritual, linguistic, familial and cultural factors.

In Ontario, French language rights have a unique status; therefore, as French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario, I stress the importance of taking into account not only the preferences of Franco-Ontarians but also their rights to receive services in French.

I am asking the government to take into account the special status of the French language in Ontario, and to ensure that Francophones who will be affected by the new measures put in place by the government receive care in French throughout the process, including in the homes where they will voluntarily or involuntarily be placed.

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Statement for the International Day of La Francophonie 2022

Statement for the International Day of La Francophonie 2022

(March 20, 2022) I would like to begin this statement by wishing us all an excellent International Day of La Francophonie!

This day is of great importance. It is a day when Francophones and those interested in Francophone affairs across the country and around the world come together to celebrate our Francophonie. Today, and every day, we are Francophones and proud to be!

Ontario is a beacon for the Canadian Francophonie outside Quebec.

Ontario must lead by example in protecting language rights. On this International Day of La Francophonie, as public health measures are gradually lifted and we look to the future, I would like to look back at the lessons learned throughout the pandemic and how they can shape the future of French-language services in the province.

In March 2020, the world came to a screeching halt to protect our health and that of our colleagues, friends and families from COVID-19. This change happened almost without warning, barely two months after I took office as French Language Services Commissioner. This means that I have overseen the provision of French language services by the government of Ontario almost exclusively in times of health crisis.

I wanted to make sure I learned as much as possible about the weaknesses that this experience exposed in our systems in order to improve the offer of French language services in Ontario. Since I took office in January 2020, I have issued two Annual Reports and handled hundreds of cases (public complaints and inquiries) with my team. This work has shown me that the Ontario government's planning for the delivery of French services must be improved to avoid putting Ontario’s Francophones at a disadvantage.

Let's remember that, at the beginning of the pandemic, the daily press briefings held by the Premier were not offered in French. My Office’s intervention contributed to the addition of simultaneous interpretation. In my 2019-2020 Annual Report, I recommended that the government continue this practice in the future.

Then in September 2020, the provincial plan for dealing with future waves of COVID-19 was released in French more than 12 hours after the English version. Our proactive intervention contributed to the prompt translation of the plan.

As well, emergency alerts – in particular, Amber Alerts – were only available in French sporadically and very often after a long delay. Following the recommendation I made in my 2019-2020 Annual Report, alerts are now issued in both languages simultaneously.

Throughout the pandemic, I also intervened proactively in several areas to promote the establishment of best practices to avert problems with accessing services in French. I am committed to maintaining that vigilance.

I also want to mention the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission. After the announcement of the Commission, whose mandate did not include any mention of French language services or considerations of the realities of Francophones, I wrote to the Premier and the Commissioners. I wanted to ensure that they would be considering Ontario’s Francophones in their work. Ultimately, the Commission's work included extensive consultations with Francophones, and resulted in two recommendations specific to French language services.

These examples, and many others discussed in my Annual Reports, have motivated me to make nine recommendations to the government since I took office, which can be grouped under two themes:

  • The need for each Ministry to present a French language services plan to the Executive Council by April 1, 2022, and for the progress on these plans to be reported publicly on an annual basis;

  • The need for the government to conduct a self-assessment of its French-language services based on the French Language Services Commissioner's Language Compass.


By emphasizing that planning for French language services delivery should be formalized and standardized, I am highlighting to the government the need to think deliberately and strategically about services in French. I am sending a message to the government that all Ministries must work together to identify the needs of the public, as well as their own human and financial resource requirements. Ministries must co-ordinate to train, recruit and retain the necessary Francophone workforce, and they must think about building the technical capacity to offer services in French.

By recommending that the government self-evaluate its delivery of services in French, I point to the need for ongoing monitoring of its performance, using measurable objectives, the tools to achieve them, and evaluations that lead to improvements.

On April 1, I expect to receive confirmation from the government that these tools are now in place. I am confident that this, along with the modernized French Language Services Act, will put the government in a good position to envision French language services that will preserve the cultural heritage of the French-speaking population for future generations.

I will conclude by encouraging you to contact the French Language Services Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario if you encounter a lack of French language services. Your lived experiences contribute significantly to helping the French Language Services Unit strengthen the provision of French language services in the province. This is how you can help us ensure reliable and sustainable French language services are in place for the future.

Happy International Francophonie Day!

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Statement from the Commissioner on Franco-Ontarian Day 2021

Statement from the Commissioner on Franco-Ontarian Day 2021

(September 25, 2021) Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, we have all been called upon to play an important role in protecting our individual and collective health.

This year, protecting the linguistic health of our country has also become a priority. This is a pivotal year for language rights in Canada, as major laws governing language rights in the country are being re-evaluated: The Official Languages Acts of Canada, New Brunswick, and the This link opens in a new tabFrench Language Services Act of Ontario.

The protection of Canada's linguistic health is a matter of concern for all its citizens, especially in Ontario, which has the largest number of Francophones in the country outside Quebec.

The French Language Services Act (FLSA) is the primary tool that lays the legislative foundation for French language rights and services in Ontario, and its interpretation allows us to protect and enhance them for future generations.  

It is a powerful tool that must be applied to its fullest effect. My team and I regularly apply the FLSA to strengthen and improve French language services in Ontario and to make a real difference in the lives of Francophones in the province.

This year we handled hundreds of cases, which were resolved thanks to our intervention, our talented team, and the willingness of the Ontario government and the public service to work with us.

We recently launched an inquiry into the cuts to French language programs at Laurentian University, and into the way the designated institution and the Ministries of Colleges and Universities and Francophone Affairs considered their obligations as set out under the FLSA. I will be issuing a special report on this matter at the end of the investigation.

By the end of this year, I will also release my second Annual Report, and will discuss in more detail the complaints we have handled, the observations we have made, and the recommendations we propose to improve the provision of French language services in the province.

In my 2019-2020 Annual Report, I recommended that the government improve the planning process for the provision of French language services:

RECOMMENDATION 7: That each Deputy Minister table a plan to the Executive Council that reports annually on the implementation of the French Language Services Act and the quality of French language services for the ministry for which they are responsible.

RECOMMENDATION 8: That, as part of her obligation under the French Language Services Act to submit an annual report on the activities of the Ministry of Francophone Affairs to the Lieutenant Governor in Council and to the Legislative Assembly, the Minister of Francophone Affairs report annually, beginning April 1, 2022, on the plans tabled by Deputy Ministers and their implementation.

The French Language Services Act is the foundation of Ontario's Francophonie. We must use it and preserve it. In this regard, the government recently conducted public consultations on the FLSA. This is an important step to ensure that the Act remains a strong and modern tool for language rights protection.

I had the opportunity to be consulted by the Minister of Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney. I pointed out to her that the FLSA must ensure the delivery of equivalent French language services, without delay. I also recommended that she review the section of my Annual Report that identifies the limitations of the Act, in order to build on them and to strengthen and improve the offer of services in French in Ontario.

The report states:

We have received many complaints about organizations that, although they appear to be a government service, do not fall under the jurisdiction of the French Language Services Act.

For example:

  • We were informed that some websites owned by Ontario Power Generation and some websites it administers jointly with municipalities were only available in English.

  • We received complaints from health care professionals regarding the French language services offered by their professional associations.

  • We also received a complaint about the Real Estate Council of Ontario, from a person who was looking for training in French to become a real estate agent. The sole college program recognized by the Real Estate Council of Ontario is offered only in English by Humber College.

In these cases, the process by which agency heads are appointed blocks the application of the French Language Services Act. Therefore, we cannot intervene directly under this Act.

I also reminded the Minister that the FLSA does not specifically apply to local public health units, which inhibits our ability to intervene directly to address issues of access to French language services. This is particularly the case with respect to the COVID-19 vaccination and the information issued by local public health units, although such information is essential to the health of Ontarians.

It is thanks to you, and your real-life experiences, that we are able to understand what Francophones experience when they use government services in French, and can achieve results.

I would like to thank you all and I invite you to contact us if you feel you are facing a lack of services in French. You can reach us by phone at 1-866-246-5262, by email at, or use our online complaint form.

I wish you all an excellent Franco-Ontarian Day 2021, in good health – individually, collectively and linguistically!

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Statement from the Commissioner on the final report of Ontario's Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission

Statement from the Commissioner on the final report of Ontario's Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission

(May 3, 2021) The Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission tabled its final report on April 30. I commend the Commission for applying a Francophone lens to its work. Members of the Francophone community were invited to appear before the Commission in order to inform on issues specific to Franco-Ontarians. Their submissions led the Commission to recognize that Francophone residents must receive care and services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

In This link opens in a new tabChapter 5 of the Report (pages 221-249), the Commission recommended that:

To protect the rights of Francophone residents in long-term care, the Ministry of Long-Term Care should:

a.   Design and implement a provincial strategy to increase French-language long-term care services and increase the number of French-language beds through the prioritization of designations under the French Language Services Act, and cultural designations under section 173 of Ontario Regulation 79/10; and

b.   Adopt a clear definition of “Francophone beds” that excludes long-term care homes that have not demonstrated their capacity to provide services in French.

In July 2020, I wrote to the Commissioners following their appointment. I communicated the following:

As you will be setting the direction of the Commission's investigation and determining the structure and staffing needs of the Commission in order to fulfil its mandate, I am writing to ensure that you also plan for an offer of French language services that is equivalent to that of the general population, in keeping with the Commission’s legal and moral obligations.

As you will be requesting the retention of lawyers, experts, research and other staff, and/or the acquisition of external research, I encourage you to consider how they can enable you to investigate issues specific to Francophones, such as having access to a workforce able to provide healthcare services in French.

I communicated with the Chair, Commissioner Frank Marrocco, and informed him that I am pleased with the Commission’s response to my recommendations and for keeping our office engaged throughout their essential and historic work.

Although, as I noted on July 29 2020 in a statement when the Commission was first launched, its entire report ideally should have been made available in French and English at the same time, I appreciate the effort made to ensure that the executive summary and recommendations were available in French in time for the government's deadline. I will continue to emphasize the importance of planning to ensure that Franco-Ontarians receive equivalent information from their government without delay.As I recommended in my 2020-2021 Annual Report, I am expecting that every Deputy Minister will deliver a plan for French language services to the Executive Council. The Commissioners’ recommendations for French language services is in keeping with the need that I identified for a robust planning exercise from government to ensure Francophones have access to the services they are entitled to, and that equivalent services be provided without delay.

I congratulate the Commissioners for their extensive work. I remain fully engaged, ready and committed to continue my work in strengthening and improving French language services in all sectors, and particularly in the health care sector, across Ontario during this time.

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Commissioner Burke reaffirms her determination to protect and strengthen the rights of Francophones

Commissioner Burke reaffirms her determination to protect and strengthen the rights of Francophones

(March 20, 2021) Happy International Francophonie Day to everyone!

International Francophonie Day was created by the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF) in 1988 and ever since, it has been a day dedicated to the French language.

According to UNESCO, French occupies an important place among all languages because it is both a symbol of culture and creativity and a vector for democracy and humanism.

The OIF, of which Canada has been a member since 1970 (and Ontario an observer member since 2016), places French culture and language at the heart of any lasting effort for peace and development.

The monument dedicated to Franco-Ontarians at Queen's Park, commemorating 400 years of French presence in Ontario, symbolizes a Francophone environment rich in diversity.

Beyond the symbolic aspect, International Francophonie Day in Ontario is a celebration that provides an opportunity for Francophones of this province and around the world to express their identity and belonging. I share this pride as a Franco-Ontarian.

It has been almost two years since Ombudsman Ontario assumed the essential mandate to ensure that Francophones have access to the services to which they are entitled under the French Language Services Act. We have come a long way since May 1, 2019.  We have built a strong integrated team as well as solid and lasting relationships with Ontario's Francophones, elected officials and the Ontario Public Service.

On December 10, 2020, I presented my first Annual Report, which contains my eight recommendations to strengthen and improve the delivery of French language services in the province.

The goal of my recommendations is to provide the government with the tools it needs in its efforts to make the offer of French language services an omnipresent, objective reality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the issue that is crucial to quality service delivery: Planning.

The 431 cases we reported on in our Annual Report (received between May 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020) – and the many more we have handled since – demonstrate the importance of a robust planning exercise to ensure that technical, financial and human resources are in place to deliver equivalent French language services, without delay.

These recommendations are rooted not only in the cases we have handled, and for the most part resolved, but also in the French Language Services Act.

I have recommended to the government that each deputy minister table a plan with the Executive Council, that these plans be made public by April 2022, and that annual updates be provided on the implementation of these plans.

To safeguard the contributions of the cultural heritage of the Francophone population for future generations, services in French must be prioritized. They must be equivalent to services in English, and delivered without delay. On this Francophonie Day 2021, I want to reiterate my message: La Francophonie is everyone's business. By working together, we can protect, strengthen and expand our rights.

Ontario's role in the Francophone environment is essential to our bilingual country. It is home to the largest Francophone population in Canada outside of Quebec. I am passionate about our rapidly evolving and expanding Francophonie. It is diverse, inclusive and open to the world. By ensuring the vitality of our Francophone community in Ontario, we are ensuring the vitality of Canada's official languages, and as such, our Canadian identity.

I am very proud to be part of the Francophone community of this province, this country and the world, and to contribute to the flourishing of French language rights at such an interesting time in our history.

Happy International Francophonie Day!

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Statement from the Commissioner on the launch of the Independent Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission

Statement from the Commissioner on the launch of the Independent Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission

(July 29, 2020) I would like to congratulate the Associate Chief Justice Frank N. Marrocco (Chair), the former senior executive of the Ontario Public Service, Angela Coke, and Dr Jack Kitts for their appointment to serve as commissioners to lead the Independent Commission investigating Long-Term Care and COVID-19.

I am confident that their vast expertise will enable them to fulfill the mandate they were given by the government to provide advice on how to better protect long-term care home residents and staff from any future outbreaks. I wish them much success in their efforts to ensure that long-term care homes in Ontario provide high-quality care and are safe.

I have written to the commissioners, asking for an opportunity to discuss further how Ontario’s Francophonie will be reflected in the context of their investigation.

Although I expected that at least one Francophone would be among the newly appointed Commissioners, I trust those appointed will conduct an exhaustive review of all issues, including those specific to Francophones. I will closely monitor the Commission’s investigation in this regard as it evolves.

I also communicated to the Premier, today, that I am concerned about the Terms of Reference issued by the government for the Commission that do not include any explicit expectations regarding the offer of French language services or that any consideration is to be given to issues specific to Francophones.

I also informed the Premier that I am concerned that the Terms of Reference allow the Commission to issue a report in one language only, as reflected in the provision below:

The Commissioners shall also ensure that the final report is delivered in both English and French at the same time; however, if, in the opinion of the Commissioners, the health and safety of the public would not be served by delaying the delivery of the report and only one language version is ready, the Commissioners may deliver the report in only one language. If the report is delivered in only one language, the other language version shall be delivered as soon as possible.
Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission

I strongly recommended to the Premier that he ensure that the Commission’s report is produced in French and English simultaneously to avoid any delay. I also asked that the government explicitly communicate its expectations regarding the offer of French language services to the Commission.

I will follow the Commission’s investigation carefully.

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Integrating the FLSC into the Office of the Ombudsman – Reviewing year one

Integrating the FLSC into the Office of the Ombudsman – Reviewing year one

(May 1, 2020) It has been one year now since the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner (FLSC) and the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario were given the mandate to join forces to promote and protect French language services in the province.  

This joining of forces has strengthened both institutions, through a broadening of scope, as well as a combination of talent, passion, and resources.

There are numerous opportunities when two institutions are joined. Although, as the Ombudsman has stated, the change was unsolicited, the organization has embraced the changes required to make the union work effectively.

While both institutions were renowned across the country and around the world, we now have a single, more impactful organization that will protect and advance French language rights in the province. We are building a unique and solid pillar in oversight, a model for other such institutions to follow.

The key benefit of this fusion is the combination of expert problem solvers. We now have a larger and more powerful team working together to oversee government action affecting Francophones. We are building on internal and external best practices and applying them to find solutions that ensure that the rights of Ontario Francophones are upheld and needs are being addressed.

Although we have just begun, I am motivated by the strides we have already made in proactively resolving issues regarding the protection of French language service rights through relationship building, teamwork, and proactive complaint handling and prevention.  

The productive and appropriate relationships we are building together with stakeholders have already paid dividends. The following examples are particularly noteworthy:

  • The lecterns used by the Premier and his ministers are now bilingual.

  • We have worked with the Ministry of Health, Telehealth Ontario and Public Health Ontario from the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure proper staffing and resources were in place to ensure a strong offer of French language services. I am pleased that both agencies and the Ministry are well engaged and responsive to our inquiries.

  • The Ministry of the Solicitor General acknowledged the lack of French language services in its report following the This link opens in a new tabfalse alert of an incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station and made improvements.

  • Following a complaint of failure to provide services in French by a DriveTest centre in London, we worked with government to strengthen the offer of French language services.

I am committed to remaining accessible and engaged with the Francophone community and all Ontarians connected to Francophone affairs.

In fact, I am maintaining a full calendar of virtual meetings with government officials, mayors, education planners, health care organizations, and Francophone associations across the province. I look forward to getting back to safe social contact so I can resume my face-to-face conversations with all of you.  

I have also been working diligently to refine the way we administer our complaints process. It is important to me that citizens receive high-quality and direct service from my team when they feel that government or its agencies have not met their obligations under the French Language Services Act.

We are now directly accessible to complainants, offering an efficient and personalized service to Francophones. We are also obtaining an in-depth understanding of the linguistic issues brought forward by Ontarians, and the impact that these issues are having on them, firsthand. This provides compelling evidence of the important impact that a lack of services has on Francophones. It also allows us to make targeted inquiries to government so we can resolve the issues with solutions that are sustainable.  

But… I do not only wait for issues to be brought to my attention through complaints or current events. My ongoing interactions with key stakeholders, conversations with individual members of the Franco-Ontarian community, as well as engagement with government, agencies and organizations, allow me to address issues before they become complaints.  

I also benefit from the enhanced resources that the Ombudsman’s office offers, including effective recruitment processes to secure talent and renew expertise in our team, and a broader mandate to achieve expanded outcomes.  

The notion that there would be challenges with the integration between these two offices was acknowledged by Ombudsman Dubé in an early interview a year ago. He remarked that it was a complex effort that would take time, but he remained convinced that the interests of the Francophone community would be well-served in the long run.

He was right. It is complex, but the opportunities arising from the integration far outweigh the challenges that complexity presents. In French, I would say, “C’est un beau défi,” a nice challenge to take on.

It is particularly challenging, but also rewarding, during the present pandemic and state of emergency, where the need for Francophones to receive accurate and timely information in French is more important than ever.

That is why I have been actively engaged with the government, from the Premier, to the Minister of Francophone Affairs, to the heads of public service since the onset of the crisis.  

As Commissioner, and Deputy Ombudsman within the Ombudsman’s Office, I am well positioned to have these discussions and I am pleased that the government has embraced the opportunity for dialogue and action on these important issues in collaboration with my office.  

While gaps in French language communication services are still in question, I am pleased that my productive discussions with the government to date have resulted in the Premier’s important acknowledgement, in a recent letter to me, that:

“[…] Francophones in Ontario have the right to receive communications services in French, equivalent to those offered in English. This is even more critical at this time of crisis.”

The recent decision from the government to offer its daily press updates with simultaneous translation in French is a concrete example of what we can accomplish when a Commissioner, a government and a community work toward the same goal. I also want to acknowledge the crucial role the Speaker, Clerk and staff of the Legislative Assembly played to provide means to obtain these results.

In the year ahead, there is much more work to be done and the integration will continue to evolve. The clock will advance. There will be new good times, more changes and additional challenges to tackle.  

I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome and pledges of support I have received from across the province in my first four months as Commissioner. From Ottawa to Sudbury, from Toronto to Chatham, Thunder Bay, Embrun and beyond, the encouragement from hundreds of stakeholders in a wide range of areas from healthcare, to education, to justice and other general government services has been heartwarming and much appreciated.

Our work together is just beginning and I look forward to continuing to achieve positive results for Francophones across the province, and to effecting even more positive changes ahead.

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

Taking steps to improve French language services in our province

Taking steps to improve French language services in our province

(April 17, 2020) It has now been one month, to the day, since Ontario declared a state of emergency.  We are facing an unprecedented situation.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been monitoring the offer of services in French to the public: see press release.

I proactively contacted Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Health, and TeleHealth Ontario to ensure that they were prepared to offer quality services in French and equivalent to those provided in English.

According to my observations, the government is demonstrating important efforts to communicate to the public in French by ensuring that all information on its “newsroom” website is available in French, and through local community Francophone media outlets as well.

I am aware of the concerns of the francophone community raised in various discussions I have had, through complaints made to my office, and through the public statements by key organizations such as l’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario. All have revealed concerns about the government’s media briefings being conducted in English only.

I share these concerns. In a statement that I sent to francophone media last week, I noted that I am particularly concerned about seniors and Francophones in remote areas who might not have other sources of news than the televised daily government updates: This link opens in a new tabRadio-Canada (in French).

I have had regular discussions over the past few weeks with the government. I raised these issues with the Premier, with the Minister of Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney, and public service leaders. They have acknowledged the right of Francophones to receive services in French that are equivalent to those provided to the general population.

We have seen some important progress as a result of our efforts. I am very pleased to see that our intervention has led to a favourable response by the government and in real time, as its This link opens in a new tabdaily press briefings are now offered in French and English simultaneously.

There is always room to improve, to do better, as has become apparent in the current situation. I am keeping a close eye on the government’s actions and I am in regular contact with the community. There are lessons to be learned from the exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves.

When I release my first annual report this fall, I will pay particular attention to the government’s handling of this aspect of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as emergency situations in general. These are moments where Francophones are twice as vulnerable, and providing them with a truly equivalent offer of services in French in these circumstances requires solid planning for resources and staffing to address the needs.  

The complaints I have received indicate a need for a review of emergency practices in order to provide Francophones with the level of services they are entitled to receive from their government.

Rest assured that I will remain vigilant, engaged and will continue taking steps to improve French language services in our province.

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner

On the 50th International Francophonie Day and current issues

On the 50th International Francophonie Day and current issues

(March 20, 2020) On March 20, 2020, we marked the 50th International Francophonie Day. Did you know that French is the fifth most spoken language in the world? According to the International Organization of La Francophonie, which brings together 88 states and governments including Ontario, approximately 300 million people on five continents speak French.

Ontario's francophonie is a reflection of the international francophonie: 1.5 million people in the province report speaking French. Of those, according to the inclusive definition, 622,415 are francophones. We are of diverse origins: From here in Ontario, elsewhere in Canada, France, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Mauritius, Vietnam, Haiti and many other places.

Ontario is a destination of choice for francophones who want to live in French and put their language skills to work to contribute actively to the social, cultural, political and economic development of our province.

A few weeks ago, I began a tour of different regions of the province to meet with Ontario’s francophones. My objective is to get to know their stories, ambitions, successes and ideas so that Ontario’s society continues to be welcoming, inclusive and proud of its francophonie. Our province’s growth, both economic and social, depends on us all contributing to positive outcomes.

During this tour, I heard great concerns highlighting the urgent need for a strong bilingual workforce able to provide French language services. I heard government agencies looking for best practices to improve their offer of French language services. I heard leaders in the francophone community eager to share their expertise on the needs of francophones in the province.

This is what Ontario's francophonie is all about: Vibrant, dynamic and open, representing great opportunities and constantly looking for new ones.

The francophone community in Ontario is also a minority; however, this is not a sign of weakness. A minority is comprised of strong people with convictions who, when faced with adversity, are resilient and will persevere.

As Ontario’s Commissioner of French Language Services and a Franco-Ontarian, I want to ensure that dialogue, collaboration and opportunities are possible, and that the French language is recognized as an asset in our province.

I also want to ensure that our francophone community remains strong and able to participate actively in the province's growth. Over the past few weeks, I had productive and stimulating conversations with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and Telehealth Ontario, which are leading the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus in the province. From our conversations, they signalled that they are well aware of the importance of a strong offer of French language services.

This virus is affecting all private and public areas of our society – our work and family, our health, our lifestyle and our economy. Complex times like these show the importance of having a robust offer of services that allows Ontarians to be served in English or French.

We all have a responsibility – sometimes legal, sometimes moral – whether we are a government, an agency, a municipality or a private company, to be proactive in planning and organizing our services in both languages.

I invite each and every one of us to make a conscious effort to ensure that everyone can contribute fully to our society here in Ontario, and that we can benefit from the great opportunities that the French language brings to our province.

I remain committed, present and determined to support you, should you not be satisfied with the services you receive. The French Language Services Unit of the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman remains available to deal with any complaint. Our office and phone lines are currently closed due to COVID-19, but our staff are working from home and will do their best to respond to complaints filed via our online complaint form. Complaints about French language services can also be emailed to as usual.

Kelly Burke
French Language Services Commissioner