Builds on the government’s commitment to develop a more accessible, responsive and resilient justice system
December 10, 2020 Attorney General
NORTH BAY — The Ontario government is partnering with the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice to improve access to services in French at the North Bay courthouse. Building on the success of similar initiatives in Sudbury and Ottawa, the enhancements will make it easier for French-speaking Ontarians to access court services and court proceedings.
"As part of our commitment to building a more accessible, responsive and resilient justice system, our government is determined to break down barriers to access to justice for the 1.5 million Ontarians who speak French," said Attorney General Doug Downey. "Similar to successful partnerships with the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice in Ottawa and Sudbury, the breakthroughs made in North Bay will also help improve access to justice in French across the province, including in Northern and rural communities."
The North Bay French Language Action Plan will identify barriers to accessing justice in French throughout the court system in North Bay and will take a collaborative approach to creating and testing new approaches for improvement. The plan will also enhance the active offer of French-language court services, with an emphasis on ensuring the offer is visible, accessible and publicized.
"Our government is committed to ensuring equal access to justice for Francophones, in the language of their choice," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Francophone Affairs. "I am glad to see the North Bay French Language Action Plan go forward. Access to French-language services in the justice sector is a critical issue for Ontario's Francophone community and similar initiatives in Ottawa and Sudbury have had a remarkable impact."
"The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is pleased to partner with the Ministry of the Attorney General on the North Bay French Language Action Plan, following similar pilots in Ottawa and Sudbury," said the Honourable Geoffrey B. Morawetz, Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. "We hope this project will provide insights to enable us to improve access to justice services for the Francophone community in North Bay."
"If the justice system is to function as it needs to function to serve all Ontarians, there must be effective and meaningful access to justice in French in Ontario. This goal was reinforced by the Access to Justice in French report. I see the implementation of the North Bay Action Plan to Enhance Access to Justice in French as a significant step towards the goal of providing access to justice in French in Ontario," said the Honourable Lise Maisonneuve, Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. "The Ontario Court of Justice is committed to working together with the ministry and all courts to achieve the goal of ensuring our justice system addresses the right and needs of Ontario's French-speaking community".
- 1.5 million Ontarians speak French and more than 620,000 Ontarians identify as Francophones. Ontario has the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of Quebec.
- The district of Nipissing, which includes the city of North Bay, is a designated area under both the French Language Services Act and the Courts of Justice Act. A designated area is where Francophones make up at least 10 per cent of the population.
- Ontario has already conducted initiatives in Ottawa and Sudbury to improve French-language services. Those initiatives developed several new practices, such as displaying language rights in key areas of the courthouse and providing refresher training to court staff on French Language Service tools.