Summary of language rights in Canada and complaint mechanisms

University of Ottawa 

Applicable Norms 

1965 University of Ottawa Act, SO 1965, c. 137
French Language Services Act, RSO 1990, c. F.32
Regulation designating the University of Ottawa, O Reg 276/15, s. 1)
2016 Regulation on Bilingualism at the University of Ottawa
Academic regulation I-8 - Courses


The University of Ottawa was founded in 1948 and became a public institution 1965, and thus received a mandate from the Ontario legislature to “promote the development of bilingualism and biculturalism, and preserve and develop French culture in Ontario”. The University adopted a regulation on bilingualism in 1974 codifying the equal status of English and French as the university’s official languages. In 2016, the University was designated as a government agency within the meaning of the Ontario French Language Services Act, and that year it also modernized its internal regulation on bilingualism to take into account its new statutory obligations.

Everyone has the right to communicate with the University of Ottawa administration, including the meetings of the Senate and other university committees, in the official language of their choice. Official communications of the University shall be made simultaneously in both languages, with French taking precedence. The Bilingualism Regulations state that all University services are available on a permanent basis in both official languages according to the principles of active offer and are of equal quality in both languages. The FLSA complements and enhance these requirements and applies to all university services, communications and specified programs of study. 

Academically, under the FLSA, the University of Ottawa is required to offer all courses leading to the completion of undergraduate programs that are designated under the Ontario Designation Regulations. In addition, under the University's Bilingualism Regulations, students have the right to submit assignments and examinations in the official language of their choice, regardless of the language of the course, except in certain French-language programs. Also, Academic Regulation I-8 states that course materials produced by the professor, such as lecture notes, course outlines, presentations, laboratory instructions, and information divulged orally by the professor during the course, must be delivered in the language of instruction of the course.

Complaint Mechanisms

There are two (2) language complaint mechanisms at the University of Ottawa: the University's French Language Services and Programs Council and the Ontario Ombudsman. 

1. Council on French Services and Programs

The Council on French Services and Programs is a standing committee of the Senate. The Council oversees the complaints mechanism which is administered by the Office of the Vice-President, International and Francophonie. The Council receives complaints about any shortcomings in the provision of services and programs in the two official languages of the University.

Language complaints can be submitted to the Office of the Vice-President, International and Francophonie:

All services, communications and undergraduate programs of the University are covered by the complaint mechanism.

2. The Ontario Ombudsman

As a designated university, the University of Ottawa must also comply with the FLSA. Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding on Complaints Handling between the Ombudsman of Ontario and the University, the University acts as a first line of defense in receiving complaints about compliance with its designation under the FLSA. If complainants are not satisfied with the University's response, they may then appeal to the Ombudsman. Therefore, the Ontario Ombudsman can receive language complaints about the University, but these can only be about failures to provide the services and programs identified in the University of Ottawa's Designation Regulation

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