The Office of the Vice-President, International and Francophonie, provides the University of Ottawa community members with a complaint process as part of the implementation of uOttawa’s designation as a service provider under the French Language Services Act as well as uOttawa’s Regulation on Bilingualism.
The University’s Council on Francophone Services and Programs oversees the complaint process and submits an annual report to the Senate and the Board of Governors.
Anyone who believes the University is not complying with the Regulation on Bilingualism or uOttawa’s designation as a service provider under the French Language Services Act can file a complaint.
You can file a complaint by sending an email to: [email protected].
Scope of the complaint process
Founded in 1848, the University of Ottawa became a public institution in 1965 with a mandate under provincial law to “further bilingualism and biculturalism and to preserve and develop French culture in Ontario.” In 1974, the University adopted the Regulation on Bilingualism, setting the equal status of our two official languages, English and French. In 2016, the University was granted a partial designation as a public service agency with regards to its French-language services and programs under the Ontario’s French Language Services Act (FLSA). That same year, the Regulation on Bilingualism was updated to take into account new legislative requirements.
Thus, the administrative and educational services provided at uOttawa are covered by the language rights complaint process. When a complaint is filed, it is examined, then the claimant is informed of the applicable language policies under the FLSA and the Regulation on Bilingualism.
Everyone has the right to use their preferred official language when communicating with the University administration, including in meetings of the Senate or its committees. Official University communication is provided simultaneously in both languages, in French first followed by English. The Regulation on Bilingualism stipulates that all University services must always be made available in English and French, based on the principle of an active offer, and these services should be of equal quality in both languages. The FLSA enhanced this requirement, making it a condition for student services as well.
As for teaching, the University is required under the FLSA to offer in French all courses leading to a bachelor’s degree designated under the Ontario Regulation on designation. As well, under our Regulation on Bilingualism, students have the right to submit exams and assignments in the official language of their choice, regardless of the language of the course. Furthermore, Academic Regulation A-1 states that teaching material produced by professors, such as course notes, course syllabi, presentations and lab instructions, as well as information shared by professors in person during classes, must be in the course’s language of instruction.
The language rights complaint process is confidential and the identity of the complainant is not shared with the administrative service or program of study in question when we follow up with it. If we must share your identity to address an exceptional situation, we ask for your permission in advance.
Protection of personal information
Under Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the University adheres to the highest standard of protection of personal information.
Procedure for handling complaints
1) Reception and prioritization: You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your complaint1 within 48 hours. Your complaint will be categorized by order of priority: Complaints that can have serious short-term repercussions for the complainant are considered the most urgent. We handle teaching-related or urgent complaints quickly to take into account the particular circumstances and deadlines of programs of study.
2) Study of complaint: We will look into your complaint and determine if it falls under the University’s language policies. If we require additional information on the incident or the service you received, we will contact you. If your complaint is admissible, we will follow up with you. If it is not, we will let you, we will redirect you to the relevant authority and, if appropriate, we will close the file. A complaint is admissible if it is covered under the University’s language policies.
3) Follow-up with the service or program in question: We will contact the service or program in question to inform them that a complaint has been received, we will describe the issue of compliance with our language policies and request from them a corrective action, or we will offer them a resolution or suggest best practices and potential solutions, as appropriate.
4) Response to complaint: On receipt of the response by the service or program in question, we will review it in terms of compliance with University language policies. You will receive a response within 45 days of submitting your complaint. If it takes longer to respond due to the complexity of the complaint, we will keep you informed.
5) Closure of file and appeal: Once we have sent you a final response, we will close your file. You can appeal the resolution of your complaint to one of the two authorities below.
Appealing the complaint resolution
If you are not satisfied, you should first contact us and we will see if another solution can be proposed.
Then, if you still wish to appeal the decision, we will inform you whether your complaint is related to the University’s partial designation requirements under Ontario’s French Language Services Act or to the requirements of the University’s Regulation on Bilingualism. If it is the former, we will encourage you to contact the Ontario ombudsman’s French Language Services Unit to submit your appeal. If it is the latter, your request will be presented to the Committee on Francophone Services and Programs, which reports to the University Senate.
1. Please ensure that your complaint is respectful and does not undermine, or seek to undermine, the dignity of the person in question nor those managing the relevant program or service.