Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario (Canada)
About the Member
Mr. François Boileau has been the French Language Services Commissioner since August 2007. Following an amendment to the French Language Services Act in 2013, he became an independent Officer of the Legislative Assembly. Subsequently, in November 2016, the Legislature renewed his term for another five years. His role consists mainly in receiving complaints from members of the public and making recommendations on matters pertaining to the implementation of the French Language Services Act.
Prior to beginning his mandate as Commissioner in August 2007, Mr. Boileau acted as legal counsel for the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages where he defended landmark cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.
He also played a key role in defending French-language rights by representing the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) in the Montfort case before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
In 2011, François Boileau was awarded the Order of Merit of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO). In 2015, he received the Order of Merit of the Civil law section from the Faculty of law of the University of Ottawa.
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About the Member's Office
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Key Information on the Language Situation in this Country/Region
The French presence in Ontario dates back nearly 400 years to the establishment of the Mission of Sainte-Marie-Among-the-Hurons (Simcoe County) in 1639. Today, after four centuries, Ontario’s Francophone community numbers 611,500, i.e. 4.8% of the province's total population. It represents the largest Francophone community in Canada outside of Quebec.
In Ontario, the French Language Services Act confers upon members of the public the right to receive services in French from the provincial government, notably in the designated areas. Every government ministry and agency in these areas must offer French-language services to their clientele, even if their offices are located outside the designated area. Thus, regardless of where government offices are located, it is the location of the clientele that determines the offer of French-language services in the designated area.
The Act does not include municipalities in its government agency definition. The Commissioner may not conduct investigations of complaints over matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government or in the private sector. Only provincial government agencies are subject to the Act.
The French Language Services Act was adopted unanimously on November 6, 1986; however, it did not come into force until 1989. Until 2007, the Office of Francophone Affairs received and handled complaints related to the delivery of French-language services by the Government of Ontario. Today, this role is assumed by the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, the second provincial commissioner after New Brunswick’s Commissioner of Official Languages.