French Language Services Commissioner - Ontario Ombudsman (Canada)
About the Member
Mr. Paul Dubé was sworn in as Ontario's seventh Ombudsman on April 1, 2016. Since then, he has released reports on major systemic investigations with more than 140 recommendations - all of which were accepted by government. Among them, his June 2016 report, “A Matter of Life and Death”, called for police to be better trained in de-escalating conflict situations. His August 2016 report, “Nowhere to Turn”, recommended system-wide reforms to services for adults with developmental disabilities who are in crisis. His April 2017 systemic investigation report, “Out of Oversight, Out of Mind” prompted the province to overhaul its flawed system for the placement and tracking of inmates in segregation.
In May 2019, the Ontario Ombudsman’s mandate was expanded to include complaints about French language services and children and youth in care.
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Mr. Dubé spent his adolescence in Dalhousie, New Brunswick, Canada, and received his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and his Juris Doctor degree in law at the University of Windsor in Ontario. Mr. Dubé began his legal career in private practice in New Brunswick, specializing in criminal litigation and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to the protection of rights conferred by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the promotion of procedural fairness. He was an instructor at the New Brunswick Bar Admission Course on Criminal Procedure for seven years. As a result of work with Legal Aid New Brunswick, Mr. Dubé was a co-recipient of the Canadian Bar Association Pro Bono Award in 2003.
In 2008, Mr. Dubé was appointed federal Taxpayers’ Ombudsman and tasked with the creation of a new office to uphold the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. As Taxpayers' Ombudsman he produced seven systemic reports with recommendations aimed at improving the Canada Revenue Agency's treatment of, and service to, taxpayers. All of his recommendations were accepted.
Mr. Dubé has been actively involved in the ombudsman community, serving two terms as a member of the Board of Directors of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman, where he contributed to discussions and decisions on a variety of issues, such as governance and continuing education.
In November 2016, Mr. Dubé was named the International Ombudsman Institute’s Regional President for North America.
About the Member's Office
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Key Information on the Language Situation in this Country/Region
The French presence in Ontario dates back nearly 400 years to the establishment of the Mission of Sainte-Marie-Among-the-Hurons (Simcoe County) in 1639. Today, after four centuries, Ontario’s Francophone community numbers 622,415, i.e. 4.7% of the province's total population. It represents the largest Francophone community in Canada outside of Quebec.
In Ontario, the French Language Services Act confers upon members of the public the right to receive services in French from the provincial government, notably in the designated areas. Every government ministry and agency in these areas must offer French-language services to their clientele, even if their offices are located outside the designated area. Thus, regardless of where government offices are located, it is the location of the clientele that determines the offer of French-language services in the designated area.
The Act does not include municipalities in its government agency definition. However, municipalities with a French language services regulation are subjected to the Act. The Ombudsman may not conduct investigations of complaints over matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government or in the private sector. Only provincial government agencies are subject to the Act.
The French Language Services Act was adopted unanimously on November 6, 1986; however, it did not come into force until 1989. Until May 2019, the Office of the Frenc Language Services Commissioner received and handled complaints related to the delivery of French-language services by the Government of Ontario. Today, this role is assumed by the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman.