QUEEN'S PARK — Guy Bourgouin, NDP critic for Francophone Affairs, released the following statement regarding Ontario's French Language Services strategy report:
"Francophones in Ontario have been fighting for the government to realize their language rights in our health, child care and education systems for a long time. For years, the Ford government has been making cuts to our French Language Services, and the impact is reflected in the annual report results. The report shows the Ford government ignoring instead of implementing the commissioner's recommendations. For these reasons, it is imperative to have the French Commissioner as a separate entity.
The Conservatives aren't doing nearly enough to close this service gap, which has prompted the French Language Commissioner to ask for regulations to be updated. We have continuously seen an all-talk, no-action government regarding French issues, yet no one is being held accountable. We are still waiting for the government to reassure us on its promise of bringing a university to Sudbury and provide proof that it is going according to plan.
There have been instances in which terminally ill patients were refused services in French. This is unacceptable. No one should struggle to access health care services in French. The failure of the Ford government to ensure French-speaking people are hired in our most important facilities has seen these people experience extensive wait times.
Francophones were being sent to Sudbury, travelling over six hours for medical driving exams only to be turned away at the door because French services were unavailable as advertised. Follow-ups by the public have been sent to Minister Caroline Mulroney, and she has been unresponsive. It is imperative that action is taken and those in charge are held responsible.
The NDP is calling on the government to give Francophones concise information on where French services are available. I will continue to advocate to ensure French services are updated and offered in designated areas so that Francophones have equal access and opportunities."