Summary of language rights in Canada and complaint mechanisms


Applicable Norms

French Language Services Act, RSO 1990, c. F.32
Designation of Public Service Agencies, O Reg 398/93
Provision of French Language Services on behalf of Government Agencies, O Reg 284/11


Under the French Language Services Act (FLSA), everyone has the right in Ontario to be served in French by the central offices of government agencies and institutions of the legislature and of their offices located in the 26 designated regions of the province. This includes provincial ministries, Crown corporations, courts, school boards, and so on.

Government agencies must also ensure that services offered to the public on their behalf by a third party comply with the FLSA.

In addition to the 217 designated government agencies, certain Ontario universities and municipalities also have obligations under the FLSA.

The following universities are subject to the FLSA: the University of Ottawa,the UNiversité de l’Ontario français, the Université de Hearst, Laurentian University, University of Sudbury, Saint Paul University, and York University’s Glendon College.

The following municipalities have also adopted by-laws guaranteeing that municipal services will be offered in French: Casselman, Champlain, Chapleau, Clarence-Rockland, Cornwall, Kapuskasing, Hawkesbury, Hearst, Nipissing West, Ottawa, Rita-Harty, Smooth Rock Falls and Sudbury.

All offices of provincial ministries, institutions of the legislature, government agencies, and designated universities and municipalities are required to make an active offer, on a permanent basis, of services in French of a quality equal to the services offered in English.

Complaint Mechanism

Since May 1, 2019, oversight of the FLSA has been assigned to the Ontario Ombudsman. By virtue of the authority conferred by its mandate, the Office of the Ombudsman oversees and investigates virtually all provincial government administration: approximately 1,000 public and parapublic sector organizations and agencies, including those described above that have obligations under the FLSA.

The FLSA and the Ombudsman’s mandate do not cover private corporations, individuals, the police, doctors, lawyers, decisions of judges or the courts, the Ontario Cabinet, other elected officials, or the Government of Canada.

A complaint can be submitted to the Ontario Ombudsman for violations of the FLSA by the following methods:

  • Via the online form
  • By email:
  • By mail: Office of the Ontario Ombudsman (French Language Services Unit), 800 Bay Street, suite 402, Toronto, ON M5S 3A9
  • In person at the Office of the Ombudsman at the address above between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • By telephone: 1-866-246–5262 (Ontario)
  • By fax: 416-847-1520

However, it is important to note that the City of Ottawa, the University of Ottawa and Laurentian University have internal mechanisms for receiving and processing language complaints. It is preferable (but not necessary) to exhaust those remedies before submitting a complaint to the Ontario Ombudsman.

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