Ontario Improving Access to Justice in French
Province Issues Progress Report on Service Improvements
Ontario's French Language Services Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee has released an update on the province's progress to improve French-language justice services across the province.
The French Language Services Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee was tasked with responding to the recommendations set out by the French Language Services Bench and Bar Advisory Committee in 2012.
The report outlines key achievements to date, including:
- Launching the Seamless Access to Justice in French pilot project at the Ottawa courthouse.
- Creating better resources and tools for customer service staff who serve French-speaking clients, such as new training programs, lexicons and tip sheets and appointing a dedicated French Language Services coordinator for court services.
- With the help of bilingual court services staff volunteers, providing French language counter services (e.g., small claims, family court, and others) in person or remotely (e.g., by phone) to court users in areas not designated under the French Language Services Act.
Going forward, the Province will continue to work to implement these and other initiatives as part of its commitment to advancing the delivery of French language services in Ontario. It will also carefully consider the committee's advice for further improvements.
Enhancing justice services for French-speaking Ontarians is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic and innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- The French Language Services Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee, co-chaired by the Ministry of the Attorney General and the judiciary, has over 20 members representing the province, the judiciary, the Law Society of Upper Canada, lawyers’ associations and other justice and municipal partners.
- More than 610,000 francophones live in Ontario. It is the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec.
“As a lawyer and a francophone, I understand the challenges faced by French-speaking litigants, lawyers and other users of Ontario’s courts. The steps outlined in this report will help to further improve the delivery of French language services and build a more effective and modern justice system for all Ontarians – one that better responds to the changing needs and expectations of the people we serve.”
“The Superior Court of Justice is proud to work with the ministry and francophone stakeholders to improve access to French language services in Ontario’s courts. This report illustrates how much has been accomplished toward our shared vision of providing all Ontarians with access to justice in both official languages. Through the leadership of Justice Julie Thorburn, our court is focused on continuing progress on this very important issue.”
The Honourable Heather Forster Smith
“As the co-author of the Access to Justice in French report, and a member of the French Language Services Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee, I am pleased with the progress made to advance the state of French language justice service in recent years. There is still much to be done, but I know that all participants in the justice sector are committed to working together to further improve the delivery of French language services in our justice system.”
Justice Paul Rouleau