French Language Services Commissioner to investigate cuts at Laurentian University

June 16, 2021

16 June 2021

First formal investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman under the French Language Services Act

(TORONTO – June 16, 2021) French Language Services Commissioner Kelly Burke today announced an investigation into the recent cuts to French-language programs at Laurentian University.

On April 12, the financially troubled Sudbury university announced it was cutting 69 programs, 28 of them in French.

“We have received about 60 complaints which raise questions about the fairness and transparency of the process that led to these program reductions,” the Commissioner said.

“Many Franco-Ontarian students and others in the community have told us this situation profoundly affects their ability to be educated and work in French.”

The Commissioner initiated the investigation to determine three issues regarding the university’s cuts to French-language programs:

  • Whether Laurentian University upheld its obligations as a partially designated agency under the French Language Services Act (FLSA) during its restructuring process;

  • Whether the Ministry of Colleges and Universities fulfilled its obligations under the FLSA during Laurentian University’s restructuring process; and

  • Whether the Ministry of Francophone Affairs fulfilled its role of administrating the FLSA during Laurentian University’s restructuring process.

“I have officially notified the ministries and the president of Laurentian University of our investigation,” Ms. Burke said.

This is the first formal investigation by the Ombudsman’s Office under the FLSA, and it will be led by the Office’s French Language Services Unit. Investigators will speak with officials at Laurentian and both ministries as well as complainants, and will review pertinent documentation.

The Ombudsman has also received more than 20 complaints about cuts to English programs at Laurentian and other matters related to its restructuring. These complaints are under review.

The Commissioner encourages anyone who has information relevant to this investigation, or who wishes to file a complaint, to contact us online, to email, or to call 1-866-246-5262. Although there is no set timeline for this investigation, it will be completed as quickly as possible.

The Ombudsman is an independent, impartial Officer of the Ontario Legislature who resolves and investigates public complaints about provincial government bodies, as well as French language services, child protection services, municipalities, universities and school boards. The Ombudsman recommends solutions to individual and systemic administrative problems. Within the Ombudsman’s Office, the French Language Services Commissioner resolves and investigates complaints, makes recommendations to improve the delivery of public services in French, and ensures the linguistic rights of Ontarians and the obligations of government bodies set out in the French Language Services Act are respected.

For more information, contact:
Emmanuelle Bleytou
Communications Manager, French Language Services and Children and Youth Units

Josée Laperrière
Communications Officer, French Language Services Unit