Ontario's French Language Services Commissioner, François Boileau, met with representatives of the University of Ottawa to discuss the University's possible designation under Ontario's French Language Services Act, RSO 1990 ch. F.32.
The meeting was held at the Commissioner's offices, in Toronto, at the request of University president Allan Rock, who led the University delegation. The University is considering whether to apply for designation under the Act.
Today's meeting was a first step in a process that we hope and expect will lead to clarity, so that we can decide what recommendation to make to our Board, said Allan Rock.
The first series of questions dealt with the effects of designation on program and course offerings. The University's Regulation on Bilingualism allows for different approaches regarding course offerings in one or both languages.
Indeed, there is no perfect symmetry in course and program offerings in the two languages. For example, some courses may be offered in French only, while others are offered in English only. Furthermore, it is a normal feature of university life that programs are created to meet new needs, and that programs are discontinued when they no longer attract students or no longer fill a need.
The University also requested information on the impact of the Act on University services. While student services are generally offered in both languages, the University raised a number of concerns regarding the effects of a designation on the internal workings of certain services.
The third series of questions dealt with the effect of the Act on University governance. Academic freedom and the independence that stems from this freedom are basic characteristics of universities.
I am delighted to have met with the University's representatives, said Commissioner Boileau. My office will work with them to clarify the matters that they have raised within the limits of my mandate. While we could not complete our work in a single meeting, today's session was a good start.