Francophones in southwestern Ontario will now hear more radio programming in French, more than a year after staff cuts at Radio-Canada all but eliminated local broadcasts.

'It means a lot. It means we're coming back, slowly.' — Charles Levesque, CBEF host

CBEF, the French-language sister station of CBC Radio 1550 AM out of Windsor launched a new 50-minute local program on Tuesday.

"I'm really glad for the French community, because I used to host the French morning show, and last year, we had the big cuts," said Charles Levesque, who will also host the new morning show.

"It means a lot. It means we're coming back, slowly, and we'll see where we're going."

The addition comes after months of complaints and protests by French groups who objected to the elimination of local programming in June 2009. An estimated 35,000 francophones in the Windsor-Essex County region.

Official languages complaints


In June 2009 Radio-Canada in Windor, sister station of CBC Windsor, laid off six of its eight employees and eliminated a three-hour local morning show. ((Andrea Lee/CBC))

Graham Fraser, the commissioner of official languages, received 876 complaints about budget cuts that reduced the French staff from eight employees to two and eliminated the three-hour local morning show.

An investigation into those complaints "concluded that CBC/Radio-Canada had not fulfilled its obligations under Part VII of the Official Languages Act because it failed to consult the French-speaking community in southwestern Ontario beforehand; it did not consider the adverse impact of its decision on the community; and it did nothing to try to mitigate the negative impact of its decision," Fraser said.

Since then, the Windsor-Essex region has heard programming from Toronto with three short morning newscasts inserted from Windsor.

The new program runs between 6:35 a.m and 7:30 a.m. weekdays on 540 AM and will require in the creation of one full-time producer position.