I understand that Ontario does not have an English Language Commissioner; perhaps this is an oversight as we have a French Language Services Commissioner only. We also do not have a Ministry of Anglophone Affairs or this item would have been noticed. At issue, is the recent French Language Services Commissioners report to the Ministry of Francophone Affairs. Link below.
The document shows Ontario government entities, agencies and various arms are being granted “designated status” under the French Language Services Act (FLSA), and on the surface appears there must be a need. In 2009, the Ministry of Francophone Affairs changed the definition of Francophone to include more people. This raised the percentage of Ontario’s Francophone community to 4.8% from 4.2% and the majority of that small percentage can also speak English, showing only a very few people who actually need service in French, but we continue to enshrine rights to meet the perception of needs being created. Most people would agree to help the people that need help of course.
Hamilton Ontario has become the 6th legal entity in Ontario to sign onto the FLSA. Ontario has 4 townships that have laws in place forcing a business to have bilingual signage. Russell Township had over 70% of the business community posting bilingual signs before the law, but that was not enough for a few people involved in pushing more French services. 5 French only clinics. However we do not have an increase in bilingual people in Ontario, so where are these workers coming from, and more importantly, where will English or French only speakers work to pay more and more taxes? Ontario lists over 97% of business operate in English and have for years.
With many dedicated government employees whose only job is to “assist” departments become more French, 25 designated zones, a dedicated French Language Commissioner going beyond the mandate of “monitoring the progress made by government departments” and more than 210 government institutions who have been actively approached and signed onto the FLSA, are getting special treatment since funding is GUARENTEED. During a time of constraint, should GUARENTEED funding be given? How fair is to all the Ontarians who are paying for this exercise? During a time when people are looking for jobs, the “bilingual” or French person will be given special treatment for employment so the institution can keep the designation. There is no such guarantee for, or are there, English only entities.
We need a discussion in this province and country on bilingualism! Some of the questions should revolve around actual need, actual numbers and costs involved with both taxpayer money and human related costs, soon! 254 admissible complaints for the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, tells us that Francophone’s are not hard done by, but with guaranteed funding for French services, money from core services we have all come to expect could be at risk.
http://www.flsc.gov.on.ca/csf_report_en.html#complaints_received_in_2011-2012 See section 1.3.1 among others – Naturally, designation acts as a political and legal shield by providing quasi-constitutional protection against the potential reduction or discontinuation of programs and services.
Denis Hubert-Dutrisac, Sudbury
Eric Little – Ottawa Ontario
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