What do the Franco-Ontarian organizations expect from the next government?

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On the eve of the start of the election campaign, the leaders of Ontario’s francophone organizations have stated their expectations of the party that will emerge victorious, even before the Franco-Ontarian community rushes to the polls. ONFR + he went to catch those hopes.

All civil society actors and activists of all causes know this well, election periods are the best time to have the ears of politicians. The fast-paced Ontario provincial elections are no exception to this rule.

In fact, like the Fédération des gens d’accaires francophones de l’Ontario (FGA), some Franco-Ontarian organizations have recently made public their recommendations, including their complaints, to political leaders and especially to the party leader. which will form the future government.

Richard Kempler, Director General of the FGA. Courtesy

“Our main expectation in this election is that the francophone aspect should be taken into account, not as an eternal recommendation, but as an asset to the province because what benefits francophone economic development benefits the whole of Ontario. For example, the mere fact of being able to communicate in both official languages, both domestically and internationally, allows for additional economic growth, ”says Richard Kempler, Director General of the FGA.

Making Francophone economic challenges a political priority

To this, the President of the Assembly of the Francophonie of Ontario (AFO), Carol Jolin, adds a key economic element whose problem is redundant and affects all sectors.

“We conducted a survey at the provincial level to gather the expectations of Franco-Ontarians and various elements emerge. Most importantly, it is related to the shortage of French-speaking labor. The next government should prioritize tackling this issue, which is facing all sectors of activity, whether at the public, private or community level. This is the most important economic brake on the Francophonie. »

Carol Jolin, Speaker of the Ontario Francophone Assembly. ONFR + files

In terms of entrepreneurship and the liberal professions, the FGA highlights the persistent obstacles faced by the French-speaking community, even before it can be exercised.

“There are always terrible obstacles in this area when you are French-speaking, especially when you are a newcomer. Once the latter are there, they face the problem of acceptance of their condition by different professional orders who are reluctant or slow to validate their successes. What we specifically ask of the future government is that the orders register these people directly from the moment when there has been recognition of diplomas in the immigration process “, asks Mr. Kempler.

This barrier to entering the labor market is all the more restrictive when we know that two-thirds of Ontario’s increase in the French-speaking population comes from immigration and that “only 48% of designated bilingual positions are filled because there are a lack of candidates, ”as Mr. Kempler pointed out, calling the situation absurd.

Francophone health sick due to lack of data

The other vital area for which Franco-Ontarian agents expect much from the next executive in the province is health. However, beyond the classic questions about the lack of designated beds or the lack of qualified staff in French in this sector, the director general of the Center de salut communautaire de l’Estrie (CSCE), Marc Bisson, evokes less obvious expectations . at first sight.

“The next government must establish a real strategy for collecting socio-demographic data on Francophones if we want to improve health outcomes in the community. This point is extremely important so that we can target interventions in the diversity of Ontario’s francophone community because the reality of the Franco-Ontarian living in Hearst is not the same as that of someone living in Toronto, for example. »

Marc Bisson, Executive Director of the Estrie Community Health Center. Courtesy

This lack of availability of specific data inevitably has an impact on the optimization of government investments.

“When the government allocates additional health funds, it will only mention an empty sentence that says it is important that something be done for Francophones without responsibility. It is very important that the funding is directed, direct and dedicated to the French-speaking community and not drowned in the masses “, denounces Mr. Bisson who thinks that all these problems also apply to the mental health sector.

Francophone education, an investment rather than an expense

With regard to this other important sector, education, the first thing that the government should take into account when dealing with Francophones is its vision of funding, according to Anne Vinet-Roy, president of the Association. Teachers (AEFO).

“The future government must see funding for Francophone education as an investment for the future and not necessarily as an expense because often its perspective is how much it will cost instead of wondering how much we can invest in enriching and improving really the education system. ”

And to add, a little overwhelmed: “We had presented a report with more than thirty recommendations that should be applied to, in particular, counteract the deficit of French-speaking staff in education, but the current government no turtle in this record. Therefore, we are renewing the same recommendations and expectations for the future government. »

In addition, Ms. Vinet-Roy reiterates her desire to reduce the number of students in classrooms, so that, according to her, the school system can respond effectively to the particular needs of increasingly individualized students. A directive that, if implemented, will inexorably deepen even more in the shortage of manpower currently living in French-speaking establishments.

In this regard, Carol Jolin, President of the Assembly of the Francophonie of Ontario (AFO) expects to increase the number of letters of permission to teach in the French-speaking school boards of Ontario, which was 480 repeals in 2021. in 2022. A situation he considers at least alarming.

Anne Vinet-Roy, President of the AEFO. Courtesy

To alleviate this crisis of the educational staff, Mr. Jolin suggests that the next government address the francophone post-secondary sector in general and the University of Sudbury in particular. In this way, school boards could extract from the source, that is, from the reservoir of future recruits represented by French-speaking post-secondary institutions.

“It is extremely important that this dossier on the University of Sudbury move forward so that it can become completely independent for and by Francophones. For this, it is essential to track a solid French program at this university, especially because Laurentian has suffered a drop in enrollment at the French level of 52%. This is what we are asking for as a priority for the future government. »

Justice and police are not left out

Seriously addressing the problem of labor shortages in the public sector is also the spearhead of the expectations of the Association of Francophone Communities of Ontario in Toronto (ACFO-Toronto).

“What our board has highlighted most about what we expect from the next government is, first and foremost, the lack of public sector staff to serve the French-speaking community. This is a major blockchain for real access to services in French. Even if, on paper, things get better, the problem is still on the ground where solutions are struggling to materialize, ”said its president, Serge Paul, who is also a member of the French-speaking committee of the Toronto police.

Serge Paul, President of ACFO-Toronto. ONFR + files

The latter sees as evidence what is happening in both the justice services and the police where, according to him, the need for French-speaking staff is very much felt.

“The police presented a small number of 600 employees who claim to be French-speaking, and again, these are the ones who are declared as such, but who do not use French every day. They usually use their French to translate documents and not necessarily to help francophones on the street or during trials, for example. He would like the Frenchman to be more present, also at the provincial level of the police.

And to press: “If you go to any police station to file a complaint in French, which usually takes an hour in English, you run the risk of spending five or six hours in French, so we are no longer in an emergency. »

The next provincial government, then, has a lot on its plate with regard to the French-speaking community. It remains to be seen whether these expectations will be taken into account by the party that will take over the reins of the city’s affairs for the next four years.

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