Montreal

Quebec government worried about elimination of Ontario's French Language commissioner

The news that Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government will abolish Ontario's Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is not sitting well in Quebec.

Trudeau government also expresses concern over move

In a series of tweets, Francophone Relations Minister Sonia LeBel said Ontario's decision to abolish the Office of the French Language Services is worrisome. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The news that Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government will abolish Ontario's Office of the French Language Services Commissioner is not sitting well in Quebec.

The office serves as the representative for Franco-Ontarians, ensuring the French Language Services Act is followed.

According to the Ontario government, there are more than 600,000 people in that province who identify as French speakers.

The dismantling of the office is a cost-cutting measure to deal with Ontario's deficit, government officials say. Its work is to be folded into the Ontario ombudsman's office.

"I want French in Ontario to be protected as much as possible," said Quebec Premier François Legault.

Legault says it's a topic he'll broach when he and Ford meet on Monday.

'Petty and provocative'

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume did not hold back on his opinion of the cut.

"[Franco-Ontarians] really do not deserve this.... It's really petty," he told reporters.

"I think it's a provocation because this is really a small office that does a lot of mitigation between francophones and the government."

In a series of tweets, Quebec Francophone Relations Minister Sonia LeBel says she spoke to Caroline Mulroney, Ontario's minister responsible for francophone affairs, to express her concerns.

LeBel says Mulroney reiterated her commitment to Franco-Ontarians but mentioned the need to cut costs.

"We will continue to promote and defend and the interests of francophones throughout Canada," LeBel said.

'Unthinkable' move, PMO says

The prime minister is calling the decision to abolish Ontario's French language office "unthinkable."

"Today is a good day to reflect on how absolutely critical it is for governments in this country to protect, preserve and cherish minority language rights," said Justin Trudeau, in a tweet.


 

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.