French Language Services Policy

1.0 Introduction

Tribunals Ontario is an organization of adjudicative tribunals designated under the Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (ATAGAA). Tribunals Ontario’s thirteen constituent tribunals play an important role in the administration of justice in Ontario in serving the needs of the public. Tribunals Ontario has a commitment to providing French language services in compliance with its obligations under the French Language Services Act (the "FLSA").

2.0 Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

If there is any conflict between this policy and provisions within the Rules of Practice of one of Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals, this policy will prevail.

3.0 Principles

4.0 Policy

4.1 Communication

Tribunals Ontario will communicate in the participant’s language of choice (French or English) notwithstanding the fact that a client’s representative may speak the other language. A client may change the language of his or her communication with one of Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals by notifying the tribunal in writing.

4.2 Written Communication

All written materials generated by Tribunals Ontario for the public, including Tribunals Ontario’s website, social media content, publications, forms, notices, rules, and policies, will be available in French and in English at the same time and will be equivalent in quality and content.

All file-related correspondence initiated by any of the Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals, as well as any electronic versions of such materials, will be provided in the client's language of choice (French or English). Forms will include the notice that they are also available in the other language.

4.3 Oral Communication

When clients contact, or are contacted by, one of Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals by phone, the point of first contact will greet the client in both languages (French and English) and continue in the party’s language of choice (French or English). If the first point of contact is not able to communicate to the client in their language of choice, they will direct the party to an employee in a designated bilingual position without unreasonable delay.

Automated telephone services will be consistently available in French and English, including the interactive voice response system. Voicemail of all employees in designated bilingual positions will provide information in both French and English.

4.4 Tribunal Proceedings

A French-speaking or bilingual staff member, adjudicator or Tribunals Ontario third-party service provider will be assigned to proceedings whenever: an application or appeal is submitted in French; a client requests that the proceeding be conducted wholly or partly in French; or a client requests to communicate in French at any time in the process. Clients requesting French services will have equal access to all types of proceedings available before Tribunals Ontario and the quality of French language services will be of equivalent quality to the same service provided in English.

Parties will provide as much notice as possible, in advance of a proceeding, to advise Tribunals Ontario that they are requesting French or bilingual services OR that they no longer require the requested French or bilingual services. Where a request for French or bilingual services is raised during a proceeding, adjudicators or Tribunals Ontario service providers will consider each request at any stage of the proceedings and will ensure equal access to French language services in accordance with the applicable tribunal rules and procedures. In responding to these requests, Tribunals Ontario and its constituent tribunals will consider the requester’s language rights and the circumstances of the case.

A French-English interpreter will be provided by the tribunal for a party or witness who does not understand the other language. Tribunals Ontario will ensure that bilingual and French language proceedings are scheduled within timeframes equivalent to those applicable to proceedings in English.

4.5 Decisions

Tribunal decisions will be released in the language of the hearing. Decisions relating to hearings where the clients have participated in both French and English will be released in both languages simultaneously.

Significant decisions for matters heard in English will be released in French and English.

All decisions will be translated in French or English on request of a party to the proceedings, or at the discretion of the tribunal on request from a member of the public.

4.6 Documents & Translations

Clients may submit written submissions or evidence either in French or in English. These documents will form part of the record in the language in which they are submitted. As a general practice, the constituent tribunals of Tribunals Ontario will not translate documents provided by a client, but may provide translations of any documents, or order a party to provide translation of documents at their own expense, if it considers it necessary for the fair determination of the matter.

4.7 Third Party Agreements

Where Tribunals Ontario makes an arrangement with a third-party service provider to provide services to the public on its behalf, it will ensure that the provider’s services are provided in accordance with the FLSA and that they will take appropriate measures to provide an active offer of French to the public.

5.0 Review

Tribunals Ontario will review this policy at least every three years. It will also update the policy, as required, to ensure that it reflects the most recent legal developments.

6.0 Feedback, Inquiries, and Complaints

Feedback, inquiries, and complaints about the quality of French language services or application of this policy can be sent to Complaints will be processed pursuant to the Tribunals Ontario Complaints Policy and Process.

Complaints can also be sent to the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario. For more information or to submit a complaint, visit their website.

The Ombudsman’s Office promotes fairness, accountability and transparency in the public sector by resolving and investigating public complaints and systemic issues within its jurisdiction.

The Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and powers of investigation also include ensuring that the rights of Ontarians and the obligations of government agencies are respected according to the French Language Services Act.

Effective as of November, 2022
Tribunals Ontario