Where to find services in French

In Ontario, you have the right to receive justice services in French from the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

These two ministries include programs and services provided by:

The ministry is committed to providing quality French language services under the French Language Services Act and the principle of the active offer of service.

This means that French-language services provided by the ministries of the Attorney General and Solicitor General must be:

  • consistently offered at the earliest opportunity
  • clearly visible and available
  • equal in quality to services offered in English
  • easily accessible and publicized

The government’s adjudicative tribunals, including Tribunals Ontario and Ontario Land Tribunal, also provide services in French.

Your French-language rights in the justice system

Federal and provincial laws guarantee your right to receive French-language services in the courts and the justice system.

The Criminal Code of Canada guarantees an accused person’s right to be tried before a court in English or French anywhere in the country when charged with Criminal Code offences and other federal offences, such as shipping or drug offences.

The Courts of Justice Act recognizes English and French as the official languages of the courts and grants the right to:

  • bilingual proceedings anywhere in Ontario in family, civil and Provincial Offences Act cases
  • file documents written in French at all Ontario courts
  • request translation of any filed document from French into English or English into French

Proceedings under the Divorce Act can be conducted in English, French or both and any person has the right to use either official language. This includes filing pleadings or other documents, giving evidence or making submissions.

The French Language Services Act guarantees your right to communicate and receive services in French from Ontario government ministries located or serving in the following 26 designated regions.

Your lawyer must inform you of your language rights as part of the Law Society of Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct. If you would like a bilingual proceeding, talk to a lawyer or paralegal to determine the best way.

If you want other French-language services, visit lawyer referral services to request a French-speaker lawyer. Your lawyer must either:

  • provide services in French
  • refer you to a lawyer who can provide these services in French

You can also call the Legal Aid Ontario’s French advice line to receive some types of legal advice in French.

Justice pas-à-pas also offers step-by-step information about legal issues in French.

Access to Justice in French Advisory Committee

The Access to Justice in French Advisory Committee gives advice and guidance to the Attorney General about the development of strategies and emerging priorities related to access to justice in French based on the active offer of service.

This permanent committee includes representatives from:

  • the Francophone legal community
  • the Ministry of the Attorney General and
  • the Offices of the Chief Justices of Ontario

The Chair of the Committee is appointed by the Attorney General for a three-year term. To contact the committee, email FLSoffice@ontario.ca.

Francophone organizations in the justice system

The Coalition of Justice Sector Francophone Stakeholders works with the justice sector ministries to improve and modernize access to justice in French in Ontario’s justice system. The coalition includes:

Making a complaint

The French Language Services Unit of the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office ensures the rights of Ontarians and the obligations of government agencies are respected under the French Language Services Act.

The office’s French Language Services Commissioner:

  • reviews and investigates unresolved complaints and issues
  • reports and makes recommendations to the government on providing French-language services
  • ensures the French Language Services Act is followed

Contact the French Language Services Unit at sf-fls@ombudsman.on.ca or submit a complaint form online.