Although the city has made progress towards French-language services in recent years, the local chapter of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario advocates that these changes be made permanent by integrating them into city policies.
Last updated approximately 22 years ago, City of Greater Sudbury administrators were tasked with reviewing its French language services policy.
The initiative received unanimous backing from city council last week and is expected to result in recommendations for policy change presented to city officials next year.
The Association canadienne-francaise de l’Ontario du grand Sudbury, which has played a central role in promoting the exam, is among those who should weigh in on a community engagement component for change.
“Certainly we see ourselves working with the city to make sure people are participating, voices are being heard, and we’re working on strategy and communications,” said chief executive Joanne Gervais.
“It’s been 22 years,” she added. “It would seem like a good time to review the policy.”
Although she said the city has made great strides in recent years in terms of French-language services, the existing policy falls short. This means that although there are some bilingual services in place, it is often because the person in place happens to be bilingual and not because it is a requirement of the position established by policy.
“We depend on good faith and the right people in place,” she said, adding that this could apply to both staff and elected officials, positions known to see turnover.
If these requirements were entrenched in policy, she said there would be a stronger guarantee that they would be maintained despite staff and council turnover.
A strong policy, she said, will encourage French speakers to stay in the community, as it is “important to keep this community vibrant”.
“It’s just about solidifying that and creating assurances to ensure the growth of our community,” she added, noting that it doesn’t make sense for French-language education to be offered and for local services in French are not guaranteed after graduation.
“The city is not alone in this reality, but with a policy review, modernization, I hope this will lead to broader discussions for better services with the French community,” she said. .
With unanimous support from city council last week, Gervais said she was confident the updated policy would build on the momentum that has been building over the past few years, which has also included the installation by the city of a Franco-Ontarian flag in a new location every year since the past. several years.
The Franco-Ontarian flag was actually created by Joanne Gervais’ brother, Gaétan Gervais, and Michel Dupuis. It first flew at the University of Sudbury in 1975.
“I think most people understand the importance of offering services in French in a bilingual country,” she says.
“I think we’ve gone beyond the combat part, but that’s how to put tangible things in place to concretely help us offer services that respond to our bilingual status.
The motion to review the City’s French language services policy was presented by Ward 12 Council. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann and Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre.
After the meeting, Lapierre said the Association canadienne-francaise de l’Ontario du grand Sudbury initiated the discussion and should remain involved during the public consultation phase.
“I think it’s a great idea to revisit something so old just to see where we need to tweak, update, change or whatever,” he said.
According to Statistics Canada, 38.7% of the population is bilingual and 25.6% of the population consider French as their mother tongue. Only 0.8% of the population, or 1,300 residents of Greater Sudbury, speak only French.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.