World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

French Language Services Act

Article Id: WHEBN0003408603
Reproduction Date:

Title: French Language Services Act  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ontario, List of francophone communities in Ontario, Centre de Formation Médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick, Canadian French, Municipalities with language facilities
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

French Language Services Act

Map of French service areas in Ontario. Dark blue indicates areas designated in their entirety; light blue indicates areas that include designated communities.

The French Language Services Act is a law in the province of Ontario, Canada which is intended to protect the rights of Franco-Ontarians, or French-speaking people, in the province.

The Act does not give the French language full official language status in the province, which has no official language defined in law but is primarily an English-speaking province in practice. The Act, however, ensures that provincial government services are offered in French in 25 designated areas across the province with significant numbers of Franco-Ontarian residents.


Whereas the French language is a historic and honoured language in Ontario and recognized by the Constitution as an official language in Canada; and whereas in Ontario the French language is recognized as an official language in the courts and in education; and whereas the Legislative Assembly recognizes the contribution of the cultural heritage of the French speaking population and wishes to preserve it for future generations; and whereas it is desirable to guarantee the use of the French language in institutions of the Legislature and the Government of Ontario, as provided in this Act;


Historically, the Franco-Ontarian community had been ignored or treated with contempt by the government of Ontario, most notably with the adoption in 1912 of ACFÉO, and was never fully implemented before its repeal in 1927. However, it was not until 1968 that the provincial government amended the Education Act to officially recognize the existence of French language schools in the province.

Over the next number of years, the government began to offer a wider range of services in French. In 1970, a Coordinator of Bilingualism was appointed to oversee the development of French language government services. Over the next 16 years, a large number of service policies were adopted on a piecemeal basis by individual ministries, until the French Language Services Act was introduced in 1986.

The Act

The primary purpose of the Act was to consolidate and formalize government policies and regulations around the provision of French language services. The Act guaranteed francophones in 23 designated areas of the province a right to local French services from the provincial government. Two more cities were designated as French language service areas after the Act came into effect.

Francophones living outside of the designated areas can receive services in French by accessing government services located in the designated areas or by directly contacting the head offices of government ministries. The provision and coordination of French language services is managed by the Office of Francophone Affairs.

The French Language Services Act does not cover public agencies such as hospitals, nursing homes or the Children's Aid Society. However, these agencies may ask to be officially designated as providers of services in French by the Cabinet. Once designated, the agencies must provide French-language services just as the ministries do.[1] Other partially funded provincial and municipal agencies may develop their own policies regarding French language services. For instance, Ontario public libraries within FLSA designated areas are not bound by the Act,[2] however the Ontario Libraries Act’s section 20 (b) states that public library boards “shall seek to provide library services in the French language, where appropriate”.[3]

The Act also does not legislate any responsibilities upon individual municipalities to provide French language services, although a municipality may choose to do so of its own accord.

The Act was introduced in 1986 by Bernard Grandmaître, Minister of Francophone Affairs in the Liberal government of David Peterson, and passed successfully. It provided for a three-year implementation period, and the law officially came into effect on November 19, 1989.

Ensuring Compliance

As of 2007, the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is the agency whose primary mandate is to ensure compliance with the French Language Services Act in the delivery of government services by means of independent investigations.[4][5] The Commissioner receives and handles complaints from the public with respect to inadequate French-language services from the Ontario government. Recommendations are outlined in a publicly available annual report to the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.[6]

Designated areas

In order for an area to obtain designation Francophones must make up at least 10% of its population, and urban centres must have at least 5,000 francophones.[7] Previous to 2009, the definition of a francophone in Ontario included only native French speakers. This definition was broadened by the Government of Ontario in June 2009 "to better reflect the changing face and diversity of Ontario's Francophone communities”. The new Inclusive Definition of Francophones (IDF) now includes allophones (“those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English but have particular knowledge of French as an official language and use French at home, including many recent immigrants to Ontario for whom French is the language of integration").[8]

Districts and counties


Expansion of services

Brampton was designated as the province's 24th bilingual service centre in 2004, and the designation officially came into effect in March 2007. Kingston was designated as the 25th bilingual service centre in May 2006, and French services officially came into effect in 2009.


The Act was controversial with anti-bilingualism advocates such as the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada, who alleged that it created a special entitlement for francophones at the expense of anglophone residents of the province – for example, the requirement to provide bilingual services was perceived to discriminate against government employees who did not speak French.

APEC also misrepresented or misunderstood the reality that the legislation did not cover municipal government services, and began a campaign of persuading Ontario municipalities to declare themselves English-only. A number of smaller municipalities, especially in the Western Ontario region, did so during the implementation period. On January 29, 1990, the most famous such resolution was passed in Sault Ste. Marie, igniting a national controversy which in turn became a flashpoint in the Meech Lake Accord debate. (See Sault Ste. Marie language resolution.)

In 1996, New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson spoke in French in the Legislative Assembly to mark the 10th anniversary of the Act's passage. He was heckled by Progressive Conservative opponent Joe Spina, who yelled at Bisson to "Speak English!"


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

See also

External links

  • Text of the Act in English
  • Text of the Act in French
  • French-language education in Ontario
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.