A hospital union, representing nearly 10,000 Francophone hospital staff province-wide, today called on the Ontario government to uphold the rights of tens of thousands of Francophone Ontarians and reconsider the closure of the office of the French Language Commissioner.

Ontario’s Francophone minority has a legal right to fully access public services in the French language “and their ability to do that has to be assessed by an independent body in which they have full confidence. The office of the French Language Commissioner has both independence and the confidence of the Francophone community.

“The Ontario Ombudsman’s office has little expertise in dealing with Francophone language rights and is already swamped with public complaints about government operations. It’s like locating patient care complaints in the ministry of transport,” says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

OCHU/CUPE today voted to campaign with the Association des Communautés Francophones de l’Ontario to fight the closure of the office of the French Language Commissioner.

“It should not require the intervention of the courts (as happened in the case of the closure of the Montfort Hospital by a former PC government) for the province to live up to its constitutional obligations to protect the language rights of Francophones in Ontario. Historically, those rights were profoundly disrespected. Hospital staff, represented by CUPE, call on the Ontario government to reconsider this decision,” says Laurin Levesque, Francophone vice-president OCHU/CUPE.