Ontario’s Francophones: partners in the province’s economic development

Ottawa, January 23, 2019 – Appearing before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) invited the government to leverage its Francophone advantage to diversify Ontario’s economy and to use the current period of review and creation of new programs to improve access to French language services.

In his statement, the president of the AFO, Carol Jolin, made five recommendations regarding economic development by and through Ontario’s Francophone community, and the pursuit of sound fiscal health with respect to the French Language Services Act, French language health care services and the Université de l’Ontario français.

“The economic future of our province depends in part on its capacity to leverage the advantage provided by its Francophone and bilingual population. Our neighbour to the south is our most important economic partner and that is normal, but Ontario can diversify its international trade through its 1.5 million citizens who have the ability to communicate in French,” said Mr. Jolin to the MLAs.

“By adopting a Francophone perspective when reviewing and creating programs, there are excellent opportunities to improve the performance of French language services,” added Mr. Jolin.

Among the ideas put forward by the organization representing 744,000 Franco-Ontarians, the AFO recommends devoting two full-time resources to work on matters related to the Organisation mondiale de la francophonie and establishing a financial framework to ensure the long term survival of the Université de l’Ontario français, reminding the committee that the federal government is interested in investing in the institution for the next four years. The AFO’s president also added that the committee will soon receive the AFO’s brief containing further ideas in the areas of justice and arts and culture.

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The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is the umbrella organization and the political voice of Ontario’s Francophone community. Its mandate is to assist the Francophone community across the province and to provide community representation, in particular to advocate for the rights of Franco-Ontarians.

Recommendations

Recommendations 1 and 2

To ensure the Francophone community’s participation in the economy now and in the future:

That the Government of Ontario dedicate two full-time resources to work in the area of the Organisation mondiale de la francophonie, in order to strengthen our economic ties with Francophone countries and create partnerships to increase the number of Francophone immigrants to Ontario.
That the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade put forward initiatives to stimulate the growth of social enterprises, private businesses, cooperatives and entrepreneurship in the Franco-Ontarian community at the local, regional, provincial and international level.

Recommendation 3

To achieve fiscal balance with respect to the French Language Services Act:

To fully abide by the French Language Services Act, that the Government of Ontario include the Francophone perspective as a basis of its review of public finances and its creation of new programs with a view to ensuring the durability of Franco-Ontarian institutions.

Recommendation 4

For a more effective French language university education system:

That the Government of Ontario develop as quickly as possible a financial framework for the implementation of the Université de l’Ontario français, which could include a federal contribution covering the entirety of the institution’s next four years of operation, as well as private sector investments and others sources of funding.

Recommendation 5

To improve French language health care services

That the Government of Ontario, in its proposal for structural reform of the health care system, maintain the objective of improving access to French language health care services by preserving community governance of the French Language Health Planning Entities and giving them a clear mandate and additional resources.