Why more city services could soon be offered in French
Published Tuesday, January 21, 2020 9:27AM CST Last Updated Tuesday, January 21, 2020 4:00PM CST
City services could soon be more accessible for French-speaking Winnipeggers.
On Tuesday, members of the executive policy committee voted unanimously to receive a report recommending improved French-language City of Winnipeg services.
The report recommends that, when possible, city services be provided in French if a resident requests it, regardless of which part of the city they live in. It also recommends the creation of a five-year plan that will determine what the city can do to provide more services in French.
The report also suggests reviewing ‘The Official Languages of Municipal Services By-law’ to determine any legal obligations; that this by-law be reviewed every five years; and that the proper officers do whatever necessary to implement the changes going forward.
"It does send a pretty clear message that everybody should be able to expect service in French, whether they live in the Riel districts or not," said Coun. Matt Allard, from the St. Boniface ward.
Allard said the EPC decision is historic and needed.
He said a large amount of the Francophone community is in need of affordable housing, and some members end up not living in French districts, such as St. Boniface or St. Vital.
"The people who may need the service the most -- some of these people are functionally French, but are working on their English, so it really is important for these people to be able to communicate to their government in French."
Last year, the city reached out to the public and community groups to determine the key areas of improvement in terms of French-language services.
Some of the ways people said the city can improve include: access to French information through its website and 311; accessible emergency services in French; bilingual staff who are able to speak and write in French; and improved attitudes towards the French language.
The report says if the recommendations are approved “there will be a tangible impact on the delivery and use of French by the City of Winnipeg.”
Allard said the report does not specify how much this French language initiative would cost. The report will now go before city council to be voted on.