French Language Services

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About Us


French Language Services (FLS) Branch was created in May 2001 following the adoption of the Bilingualism Policy by City Council. FLS’ mandate is to work with the municipal government to ensure that the Bilingualism Policy is implemented. It works with City departments to ensure they proactively provide French language services to residents and employees. FLS also coordinates the City’s translation services.

Functions and services

To this end, FLS:

  • Supports the municipal administration and departments in the proactive delivery of French language services
  • Provides guidance to City staff on the implementation of the Bilingualism Policy
  • Assists departments in developing, implementing and evaluating programs and services offered in French to residents and employees
  • Assists departments in adjusting their communications strategies to better reach the Francophone community
  • Provides translation, revision, proofreading and terminology services citywide
  • Receives and handles complaints pertaining to French language services on behalf of the City
  • Supports the French Language Services Advisory Committee in fulfilling its mandate

Questions or comments about municipal services in French

For questions or comments pertaining to French language services at the City of Ottawa, please contact us:

Bilingualism Policy

On May 9, 2001, Ottawa City Council enacted the Bilingualism Policy, which reaffirms its commitment to offer services in English and French to both residents and staff. The Bilingualism Policy is based largely on that of the former City of Ottawa and is deemed to be both practical and flexible in its approach.

The Bilingualism Policy contains provisions governing several aspects of municipal activity, notably communications; the proactive delivery of services in both languages to residents and staff; work organization, including the designation of bilingual positions; language training; and cultural program management.

The declaration of principle sums up City Council’s general objective at the time the Bilingualism Policy was adopted. It states, among other things, that “the City of Ottawa recognizes both official languages as having the same rights, status and privileges.”

The Bilingualism Policy also provides for the implementation of a mechanism to investigate complaints from residents and staff pertaining to the availability and quality of services in both official languages. This task is the responsibility of French Language Services. The branch itself is under the authority of the Office of the City Clerk, which is responsible for implementing the Policy.

Finally, the Policy provides for the creation of a standing advisory committee — the French Language Services Advisory Committee (FLSAC), which is responsible for providing recommendations to Ottawa City Council on issues impacting the implementation of the Bilingualism Policy and its application to City services, programs, policies and initiatives. Above all, the FLSAC is responsible for ensuring that its actions align with and complement Council’s strategic priorities.


Annual Francophone events

A bit of history

When the village of Bytown was founded in 1826, the area already had a large Francophone population. Bytown became the City of Ottawa in 1855 and was named Canada’s capital in 1867.

The Francophone community made many significant contributions to the city’s creation. For example, The Ottawa Hospital was founded in 1860 by the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, under Élisabeth Bruyère’s direction, and the University of Ottawa was founded by the Oblate Fathers.

Over the years, many other Francophone institutions and initiatives have emerged in a variety of fields, including education, economics, health, community social services, recreation, and arts and culture. Some examples include the Montfort Hospital; La Cité, is the largest French-language college of applied arts and technology in Ontario; the Festival franco-ontarien (Franco-Ontarian festival); and the Francophone community radio station Unique FM 94.5 (In French only).

Let’s celebrate La Francophonie

French Language Services conducts two major events annually, the Rendez-vous francophone du maire (Mayor’s annual Francophone gathering) and Franco-Ontarian Day. These events are two great opportunities to learn about and celebrate the many facets of this dynamic and vibrant community while helping to make Ottawa a great place to live. To be invited to upcoming Francophone events at City Hall and join the celebrations, subscribe to eSubscription.

2020 Edition – Mayor, Jim Watson with Mifo summer camps students

March – Rendez-vous francophone du maire

In recognition of the invaluable contributions and vitality of Ottawa’s Francophone community, once a year, Mayor Jim Watson welcomes community representatives and staff members during his annual Francophone breakfast. Numerous celebrations are held during the month of March throughout the world as part of Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie. For information on this year’s theme and to discover the host of local activities that are planned, visit Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie’s website. In March, let’s celebrate the richness and vitality of Ottawa’s Francophone community!

Watch the latest edition (In French only).

Mayor Jim Watson, accompanied by Lise Sarazin, Executive Director, Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la capitale nationale (RGA)

Mayor Watson: Hello, I would like to extend a special welcome to Lise Sarazin, Director general of the RGA for joining me here today at City Hall. Bonjour!

Lise Sarazin: Bonjour! Hello Mayor Watson and thank you for inviting me today.

The RGA is proud to promote the importance of bilingualism to businesses in the National Capital Region.

Mayor Watson: Lise plays an important role on my Economic Partners Task Force, which works with City staff to help our small businesses get through this pandemic.

Lise Sarazin: Indeed, the RGA is grateful to Ottawa City Council for its commitment to small businesses and its support for the Business Assistance Program.

Mayor Watson: We will continue encouraging businesses to serve their clients in both official languages and take advantage of the Business Assistance Program administered by the RGA.

Lise Sarazin: Yes, and through the “Bilingualism: c’est payant!” program, the RGA has helped numerous unilingual Ottawa entrepreneurs serving customers in both official languages.

The City of Ottawa has helped RGA with developing a bilingual customer lexicon, designed to help businesses become a little more inclusive for our Francophone clientele and community.

The lexicon covers a wide range of useful business expressions in both official languages.

It’s very simple. Such as saying… “Hello/Bonjour,”

Or… Hello/Bonjour, How may I help you?/Comment puis-je vous aider?

Sometimes, simply acknowledging Francophone clientele with a bilingual greeting or website can give you a competitive advantage by attracting a larger customer base.

Therefore, you can visit the new website called: BI- LIN- GUA- LISM RGA dot CA … where you’ll find a link to the bilingual customer service lexicon.

Bilingualism means a more talent-rich economically prosperous and globally progressive city.

Mayor Watson: I would like to thank Lise very much and the Regroupement des gens d’affaires for supporting our efforts to promote bilingualism here at the City of Ottawa. Thank you very much. Merci.

Lise Sarazin: It’s my pleasure. Thank you.

Watch the video.

September – Franco-Ontarian Day

2020 Edition, Mayor Jim Watson holding a proclamation with various members of Council members and Soukina Boutiyeb

Celebrate Franco-Ontarian Day on September 25th with over 622,340 Francophones in Ontario. Almost one quarter of Franco-Ontarians live right here in Ottawa! That’s Canada’s largest francophone community outside of Quebec. The province officially named September 25th Franco-Ontarian Day in 2010. On this day we recognize and celebrate the contributions of the Francophone community to the development of Ontario’s culture, history, society, economy and political structure.

The Franco-Ontarian flag flew for the first time on September 25, 1975, at Laurentian University in Sudbury. It was designed by history professor Gaétan Gervais and political science student Michel Dupuis. The flag became the symbol of the Franco-Ontarian community and was officially recognized in 2001. Read the Franco-Ontarian Emblem Act, 2001 and watch the latest edition of Franco-Ontarian Day at City Hall (In French only).

Did you know?

  • La Francophonie in Canada consists of nearly 7 million people who have chosen to live across the country.

  • Almost a quarter of Franco-Ontarians live in the Ottawa area.

  • Every year since 2006, the City of Ottawa has marked the anniversary of the Franco-Ontarian flag.

  • There are 15 Franco-Ontarian Monuments in the province, including eight located in different areas of Ottawa. View the map here (In French only).

  • Here are the names of some Franco-Ontarian celebrities who hail from Ottawa:

    • Alanis Morissette
    • Alex Trebek
    • Patrick Groulx
    • Chantal Hébert