Ombudsman releases plan for new French language services unit

April 5, 2019

5 April 2019

New oversight of French language services and child protection begins May 1.

(TORONTO – April 5, 2019) Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé met yesterday with personnel at the office of French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario to outline his plan for assuming the responsibilities of that office, as mandated by recent provincial legislation.

The government passed legislation last December to eliminate the independent offices of the French Language Service Commissioner (FLSC) and Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (Child Advocate), and transfer some of their responsibilities to the Ombudsman. Effective May 1, the Ombudsman assumes all the duties of the FLSC, and the investigative functions of the Child Advocate.

As required by the legislation, the Ombudsman will create a new position of French Language Services Commissioner, reporting directly to him. As of May 1, the FLSC’s current Executive Director, Jean-Gilles Pelletier, will serve as Interim Commissioner pending a Canada-wide competition to fill the role long-term.

A specialized unit, made up of existing FLSC staff, will handle complaints and conduct investigations related to French language services.

“My vision for this unit is to maintain and strengthen the services that the FLSC has always provided to the public,” Mr. Dubé said. “The Commissioner will be encouraged to be as active as possible in promoting linguistic rights, building relationships and identifying systemic issues affecting the francophone community.”

All of the FLSC’s existing staff will remain in the Ombudsman’s new unit, with the exception of a business services co-ordinator (a role that is not required in the Ombudsman’s organization), and current Commissioner François Boileau, who has announced he will step down at the end of April. The unit will be modelled on the Ombudsman’s existing complaint resolution and investigation structure, and a new position of Manager, Early Resolutions and Investigations will be added.

Mr. Dubé previously announced his plan for assuming the investigative function of the Child Advocate, by creating a dedicated Children and Youth unit. As of May 1, the unit will be headed by Diana Cooke, the Child Advocate’s former director of investigations, who was named Interim Advocate by order-in-council last week.

Work on open files and investigations at all three offices will continue uninterrupted, at their existing locations. The Ombudsman will release further information about updated complaint forms, web and email contacts, etc. closer to May 1.

The Ombudsman’s office continues to work with AMAPCEO (the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario), in dealing with FLSC and Child Advocate staff affected by these changes.

The Ombudsman will also assume the FLSC’s commitment to host the annual conference of the International Association of Language Commissioners in Toronto, June 26-27. “It will be an honour to host and learn from ombudsmen, language commissioners and language rights experts from around the world at this event, and to share best practices and strategies for the promotion and protection of minority language rights,” Mr. Dubé said.

The Ombudsman is an independent, impartial officer of the Ontario Legislature who resolves and investigates more than 20,000 public complaints per year about more than 1,000 public sector bodies, including all provincial ministries, agencies, corporations, boards, commissions and tribunals, as well as municipalities, universities and school boards. He also has the power to investigate broad systemic issues and issue reports and recommendations. The Ombudsman’s recommendations have been overwhelmingly accepted, resulting in public sector improvements affecting millions of Ontarians.

For more information, contact:
Linda Williamson, Director of Communications 416-586-3426