Ontario Ombudsman engages firm to conduct search for next French Language Services Commissioner
(TORONTO – July 31, 2023) Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced that the search for the province’s next full-time French Language Services Commissioner will be conducted by Boyden Canada.
“The next Commissioner will be able to build on the strong foundation of results and relationships that our French Language Services Unit has established in the past four years,” said Ombudsman Dubé. “The Commissioner’s role is an integral part of our Office’s public service model.”
The job posting will be made public on Boyden’s website in the coming weeks.
The role of the Commissioner is to monitor compliance with the French Language Services Act (FLSA) by government agencies and institutions of the Legislature. It has now been more than four years since the government transferred the responsibilities of the French Language Services Commissioner to the Office of the Ombudsman, on May 1, 2019.
Since that date, the Ombudsman’s dedicated French Language Services Unit has handled more than 1,250 complaints and inquiries related to matters subject to the FLSA. This work has translated into tangible results and improvements for Franco-Ontarians who wish to exercise their right to access public services in their language, the Ombudsman noted.
“When my Office was first given this responsibility, I made a commitment that we would apply the expertise and experience of the Ombudsman’s Office to improving French language services and promoting the linguistic rights of Franco-Ontarians,” he said. “We prioritized direct contact with complainants, and began resolving issues right away. I also promised that the Commissioner would be proactive, visible in the community – and completely independent of the government and interest groups. I committed to providing all the resources necessary for the French Language Services Unit and Commissioner to resolve complaints, conduct in-depth investigations, and produce a separate Annual Report and recommendations. We have kept those commitments.”
Since 2020, the Ombudsman’s Office has released three Annual Reports solely dedicated to French language services, as well as an investigation into cuts to French-language programs at Laurentian University. These reports resulted in some 30 recommendations, all of which were well received, and the Ombudsman’s Office continues to report on the status of their implementation.
The Ombudsman took the opportunity to thank Kelly Burke, who served as the first Commissioner within the Ombudsman’s Office from January 2020 to March 2023, for her contributions. Ms. Burke was replaced by Interim Commissioner Carl Bouchard, who led the French Language Services Unit as Director of Operations since February 2020. He has continued extensive outreach with more than 60 Francophone groups, and recently launched a new investigation into an apparent lack of French in provincial government billboards and other out-of-home advertising.
I would like to thank Ms. Burke for her work as French Language Services Commissioner and for contributing her knowledge and her experience in passionately promoting French language service rights. As Commissioner within the Office of the Ombudsman, Ms. Burke led the French Language Services Unit in realizing the objectives of the French Language Services Act, and achieving important advancements in terms of language rights in Ontario. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Ms. Burke for her passion and dedication to protecting language rights and improving French language service delivery in our province. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
Paul Dubé, Ombudsman
As a Franco-Ontarian, it was with great pride that I served the public as French Language Services Commissioner. I am also very proud of the significant improvements made to French services thanks to the hard work of the French Language Services Unit and entire Office of the Ombudsman, as reflected in three Annual Reports of the French Language Services Commissioner in three years. Demonstrating sustained commitment to the role of Commissioner and the status granted by the French Language Services Act, I pursued lasting achievements consistent with the objectives of the Act, while remaining faithful to its provisions and spirit. I would also like to thank Ombudsman Paul Dubé for giving me this opportunity to help our Franco Ontarian community flourish. I now leave it to my successors to take up this fine challenge.