The French Language Services Act (FLSA)
With the adoption of the FLSA, Ontario “recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French-speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations."
The FLSA guarantees members of the public the right to receive services in French from head or central offices of Ontario government agencies and ministries, as well as offices located in or serving areas designated under the FLSA. Ministry agencies of the Government of Ontario and Crown corporations are subject to the FLSA. LHINs are Crown corporations of the Government of Ontario. There are currently 26 designated areas under the FLSA in the province.
The Local Health System Integration Act (LHSIA)
The purpose of the legislation is to provide an integrated health system to improve the health of Ontarians through better access to health services, coordinated health care and effective and efficient management of the health system at the local level by local health integration networks.
The following are excerpts from the LHSIA regarding FLS:
The health system should be guided by a commitment to equity and respect for diversity in communities in serving the people of Ontario and respect the requirements of the French Language Services Act in serving Ontario’s French-speaking community. (LHSIA, Preamble (f))
This Act reinforces the requirements of the FLSA, underlining its commitment to equity in serving Ontario’s French-speaking population.
The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care shall establish a French language health services advisory council to advise the Minister about health and service delivery issues related to Francophone communities and priorities and strategies for the provincial strategic plan related to those communities. (LHSIA, s. 14 (2))
In carrying out community engagement under subsection (1), the local health integration network shall engage the French language health planning entity for the geographic area of the network that is prescribed. (LHSIA, s. 16 (4)).
Regulation on Engagement of the Francophone Community
French Language Health Planning Entities
On January 1, 2010, a new regulation (515/09) under Section 16 of the LHSIA came into effect to support coordinated and effective engagement of French-speaking communities on French Language Health Services issues. Between June 30 and December 15, 2010, the MOHLTC selected six organizations and appointed them as French Language Health Planning Entities (FLHPE) in order to work with the 14 LHINs, based on criteria outlined in this regulation. As a result, each LHIN entered into an accountability agreement with one of the six FLHPE.
Under regulation 515/09 Engagement of the Francophone Community, and under the accountability agreement, the areas where the LHINs shall engage their respective FLHPE have been defined as follows:
- The methods of engaging the French-speaking community in the area;
- The health needs and priorities of the French-speaking community in the area, including the needs and priorities of diverse groups within that community;
- The health services available to the French-speaking community in the area;
- The identification and designation of health service providers for the provision of French language health services in the area;
- The strategies to improve access to, accessibility of and integration of French language health services in the local health system; and
- The planning for and integration of health services in the area.
FLS Commissioner’s Office
The French Language Services Commissioner has a mandate to conduct independent investigations under the French Language Services Act, either in response to complaints or on his own initiative, to prepare reports on his investigations, and to monitor the progress made by government agencies in the delivery of French-language services in Ontario.
The French Language Services Commissioner reports directly to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. He advises parliamentarians and makes recommendations to them with respect to the application of the Act.
The Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years and may be reappointed for one further term of five years. Commissioner François Boileau, who was in office immediately before the French Language Services Amendment Act (French Language Services Commissioner), 2013 comes into force, shall continue to hold office until confirmed in office.
The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner works to ensure active, integrated delivery of French-language services in support of the development of the Francophone community and Ontarian society.
The mission of the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is to ensure that the public receives high-quality French-language services from the Government of Ontario.
Through its powers of investigation, it monitors the application of the French Language Services Act.
It strongly encourages government ministries and agencies to proactively design policies and programs that are adapted to their Francophone clientele, notably through its power to make recommendations.
The Five Key Values of the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner are:
Listening to the Francophone community, as well as those who support its development, the Commissioner’s primary roles are:
- To receive and handle complaints and to follow up on them;
- To increase the public service’s awareness of the public’s expectations;
- To exercise its powers of investigation and to make recommendations with respect to the delivery of French-language services;
- To advise parliamentarians and make recommendations to them.