French Language Services Commissioner - Ontario Ombudsman (Canada)
About the Member
Carl Bouchard (he/him) was appointed as Commissioner in December 2023, after serving nine months as Interim Commissioner. He joined the Office of the Ombudsman executive leadership as Director of Operations for the French Language Services Unit team in February 2020. Since then, he has played an integral role in developing recommendations to improve the provision of French language services in Ontario, including through Annual Reports and the 2021 investigative report into Laurentian University’s cuts to French-language programming.
Prior to working with the Ombudsman, Carl served as Director of Policy for the Ontario Ministry of Francophone Affairs since 2015, where he helped develop legislation and policies across various ministries to improve French language services in Ontario. He has negotiated numerous federal, provincial and territorial funding and collaboration agreements and has contributed to raising the international profile of Ontario's Francophonie.
A graduate in journalism from the University of Ottawa, Carl has worked with various media organizations, including Groupe Média TFO and CBC/Radio-Canada, where he produced and delivered news content in Ontario and across the country. He values the development of inclusive and safe work environments.
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 622,415, i.e. 4.7% 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 any head or central office of a government agency or institution of the Legislature and from any other office of such agency or institution that is located in or serves designated areas. Every government ministry and agency in these areas must offer French language services to their clientele whether their offices are located in or serve a designated area.
The Act does not include municipalities in its government agency definition. However, municipalities are subjected to the Act in some instances, such as when they are acting as a third party to deliver services on behalf of government.
The French Language Services Act was adopted unanimously on November 6, 1986 and came into force in 1989. From its inception in 2007 until May 1, 2019, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner received and handled complaints related to the delivery of French language services by the government of Ontario. Today, this role is carried out by the French Language Services Unit of the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, led by the French Language Services Commissioner.