September 24th, 2019

NDP’s Bourgouin presents plan to modernize French Language Services Act

QUEEN’S PARK-Guy Bourgouin, NDP Francophone Affairs critic and MPP for Mushkegowuk-James Bay, discussed his plan to modernize the French Language Services Act to ensure that Franco-Ontarians receive the government services they need in French.

Bourgouin was joined at a Queen’s Park press conference by Sylvie Landry, president of the Conseil Scolaire Viamonde; Melinda Chartrand, president of the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir and vice-president of the Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques, and Serge Paul, President of the Association des communautés francophones de l’Ontario à Toronto (ACFO-Toronto).

They addressed the importance of the NDP’s plan for Ontario’s francophone community, and more than 100,000 students in Ontario’s twelve French language school boards. They are also calling for the return of the French Language Services Commissioner.

“The Franco-Ontarian community has grown and it has evolved. Changes have been needed for some time to ensure that a new generation of Franco-Ontarians are included in the definition of Francophone so that they can receive the services they need in French,” said Bourgouin.

“Doug Ford and his Conservatives have cut francophone services and fired the French Language Services Commissioner. More than ever, we need champions for Franco-Ontarians in the Legislature. New Democrats are calling for an end to this attack on our language and for this government to consult with Franco-Ontarians and modernize the French Language Services Act to better serve francophones in the province in their Charter-protected language.”

Bourgouin is developing a bill to be introduced in the upcoming Legislative session that will obligate the Ontario government to consult with the francophone community whenever the government changes or develops a new policy, program, service or activity that affects Ontario’s francophone community.

Bourgouin also intends to incorporate an inclusive definition of Francophone to the French Language Services Act.A definition that recognizes, in addition to individuals whose mother tongue is French, the evolution and multicultural character of the Franco-Ontarian community.

“The modernization of the French Language Services Act is essential for the expansion and protection of our community. Over the years, we have made great strides in recognizing our rights, advances that are not included in the current law and are therefore fragile, unprotected. In addition, there is still work to be done since there are still several non-designated regions where communities are assimilated for lack of services in French. We need to have our say when it comes to our language and our culture, and to ensure that we are protected,” said Sylvie A. Landry.

“The mission of catholic school boards is to guarantee access to a Catholic, French language education, and to uphold the quality of education offered in our schools as well as the equity of access and programs with other school boards to ensure our students’ success. The modernization of the French Language Services Act will allow for the broadening of Francophone spaces and to ensure a future in French for our students,” said Melinda Chartrand.

“The new Act can improve the quality of services for francophones by, for instance, reinstalling the French Language Services Commissioner. By re-establishing the Commissioner, Franco-Torontonians would have a proactive defender to ensure the protection of their rights and to bolster the development of French language services in the region,” said Serge Paul.

“Incorporating an inclusive definition of Francophone into the Act will guarantee that provincial ministries and agencies deliver French language services that are attuned to the necessities of the Franco-Ontarian community in the 21st century,” said Bourgouin.

“Bilingualism and multilingualism need to be taken into consideration when it comes to offering French language services in Ontario today.”