The Ontario Ombudsman cannot fully defend the interests of the province’s Francophones

Ottawa, November 27, 2018 – The Ontario Ombudsman, Paul Dubé, has confirmed the concerns of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) regarding the elimination of the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner.

In a report broadcast yesterday on radio-canada.ca, Dubé acknowledged that he cannot act as an advocate for Ontario’s Francophones within the government apparatus.

“The role of the ombudsman is to handle complaints from the public,” explains Carol Jolin, the president of AFO, “but he cannot on his own initiative undertake an investigation or meet with elected officials and public servants to promote his recommendations to them.”

Regarding the elimination of the Université de l’Ontario project, Mr. Dubé explained that it is not his role to intervene. “Governments are elected to make political decisions,” he said. “We work on the basis of existing legislation in pursuing our efforts to improve governance in Ontario.” [our translation]

In contrast, the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly and reports directly to it. The Commissioner ensures that the rights of Ontario citizens and the obligations of government and government agencies are respected according to the French Language Services Act. The Commissioner makes recommendations for improving the delivery of services in French and monitors progress. In executing his mandate, the Commissioner conducts independent investigations following complaints or on his own initiative, prepares reports and advises the government, government agencies and MPPs to promote compliance with the Act.

“Evidently, the Ombudsman cannot defend the rights and interests of Ontario’s Francophone community to the same extent as the French Language Services Commissioner,” concludes Carol Jolin. “The roles and the influence of these two positions within the government are simply not equivalent.”

The AFO invites all Franco-Ontarians to voice their opposition to the provincial government’s proposed cuts by taking part in one of the 40 demonstrations to be held throughout Ontario on Saturday, December 1st. For further information, visit www.monassembee.ca.

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