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Ontario Terminology


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



To Top1. Why is the ONTERM site useful? How can it help me?

The ONTERM site is a reference tool that helps you find or verify Government of Ontario official names, as well as Ontario geographic names, in both English and French. ONTERM is useful for communicators, translators, or anyone looking for the correct names of ministries, government organizations, organizational units, programs, policies, position titles or administrative regions. It also provides names of specialized services, IT systems and applications, as well as slogans specific to the Government of Ontario. Using the correct name improves communication and makes information easier to find.

To Top2. What is the difference between INFO-GO and ONTERM?

The ONTERM and INFO-GO sites were created to meet different needs. The INFO-GO site provides a telephone directory with useful government offices and employee contact information. The position titles and office names are provided as general information, and the French equivalents have not been verified. The ONTERM site provides the names of Ontario government offices and position titles, as well as programs, services and many other names, all of which have been verified and approved as official Government of Ontario names.

To Top3. How does ONTERM work?

ONTERM has two databases: Official Names Ontario and GeoNames Ontario. Whenever an official name is requested, a new record is added to the corresponding database. On the ONTERM site, you can also find Reference Lists, Lexicons and Style Guides specific to the Government of Ontario.

To Top4. What is an official name?

Official names are names and titles that have been created and approved by an organization. They are used to identify the organization, its structure, personnel and activities. The Official Names Ontario database contains official names of the Government of Ontario. They include the names of ministries, government organizations, organizational units, programs, public policies, position titles, administrative regions and specialized services as well as slogans, IT systems and applications. The Official Names Ontario database does not include document titles. Click here for more information about official names.

To Top5. What is a geographic name?

Generally speaking, a geographic name is the name of a place. Geographic names in the GeoNames Ontario database include not only the names of natural features such as rivers and lakes, but also administrative entities such as communities, counties, parks and municipalities. GeoNames Ontario is the official registry of all Ontario geographic names and has some 57,000 entries in English and French. Click here for more information about geographic names.

To Top6. How often is the information on the ONTERM site updated?

The databases and website pages are updated regularly. The date of the last update is indicated on each page. All Official Names and GeoNames records show the creation date and, where applicable, when the records were last updated.

Searching the Databases

To Top7. How do I search the databases?

To learn how to search the databases, read the Search Help.

To Top8. When searching, is it necessary to enter capital letters and French accents?

The search function is not case-sensitive. You do not need to enter capital letters. French accented characters, such as é, ï, â, À and the cedilla are transparent. For example, the search results will be the same for ministère or ministere, Noël or noel, français or francais. For information on special characters, see Question 9.

To Top9. Do I need to include punctuation marks, apostrophes, special characters or spaces?

The search function is sensitive to punctuation marks, apostrophes and special characters such as the ampersand (&) and the "at" symbol (@). A space is considered to be a character; an extra space can affect your search and may lead to unsuccessful results. If the name you are looking for includes a punctuation mark, an apostrophe, a special character or a space, you must include it to find the record. Replace the punctuation mark, special character or space with asterisks (*) to broaden your search. For example, if you are looking for the Aboriginal/Federal Relations Branch and you enter Aboriginal Federal Relations Branch (i.e., without the "/"), your search will be unsuccessful. However, if you search for the character chain aboriginal*federal*relations, you will find the name you are looking for. Similarly, to find the record "Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care", you must include in your search the "'s" (Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care) or use the asterisk (Ontario*action*plan*health*care). In the GeoNames database, some geographic names differ only by the use of the apostrophe. For example, "Bell Lake", "Bell's Lake" and "Bells Lake" are three different geographic entities.

To Top10. How can I search the databases if I'm unsure of an official name?

The most effective way to search is to use keywords in combination with one or more asterisks. For example, if you are looking for the name of a committee on "health care systems" or "healthcare system", use the search chain health*care*system*committee which will return the name of two committees: "Health Care System Committee" and "Health Care Systems Research Review Committee".

To Top11. Does the ONTERM site contain acronyms or abbreviations?

Yes, abbreviations and acronyms specific to Government of Ontario official names are included in the Official Names Ontario database. For example, the record for Local Health Integration Network gives the acronym LHIN, and the record for Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs gives the acronym OMAFRA. In addition to entries in the Official Names records, the ONTERM site provides the Ontario Government Commonly Used Abbreviated Forms List which includes abbreviations commonly used in the Ontario Public Service, such as ADM for "assistant deputy minister" and FLS for "French language services".

To Top12. I get two or more results when I search the Official Names Ontario database. Which one should I choose?

You may find two or more different records for the same name. For example, you will find two records for the name "Ministry of Government and Consumer Services": one for the ministry that existed between 2007 and 2008 and one for the current ministry. The information provided in the Name Status, Ministry, Entity, Subject and ONTERM Note fields will help you determine the differences. Similarly, if you search for the position title "Planner", you will find several records with different French equivalents. To find the correct French equivalent for "Planner" with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, you must consult the record that has the ministry affiliation Municipal Affairs and you will obtain the French title "aménageur" and "aménageuse".

To Top13. Why do I get more than one result when I search for a geographic name?

Each record refers to a single geographic entity with a unique latitude and longitude. For example, searching the search chain Niagara Falls will return a record for the city, another for the falls and two more for the urban communities. The French equivalent varies depending on the type of geographic entity: the French equivalent for the city and urban centres remains the same as the English, while the French name for the falls is "chutes Niagara". By checking the type of entity, the municipality where the entity is located and the latitudinal and longitudinal points provided on each GeoNames record, you will be able to distinguish each entity.

To Top14. How can I determine to which ministry or entity a name is affiliated?

The list of results in the middle column does not show the affiliation to a ministry or an entity. However, clicking on an entry in this list will open the record on the right side of the screen and show the affiliation. The affiliation appears at the top of the record in the Ministry or Entity field.

To Top15. Can I use an official name affiliated with one ministry or agency for another ministry or agency?

Generally, a name affiliated with a ministry or government agency should not be used for another ministry or agency. The equivalent name in the other language may not be the same in all situations. For example, the "Corporate Services Division" in a ministry will usually be called "Division des services ministériels" in French, while the "Corporate Services Division" in a government agency will usually be called "Division des services généraux" or "Division des services internes". However, when the ministry affiliation field indicates "used OPS-wide - OPS," this means the name is recommended for usage, in English and French, throughout the Ontario Public Service. If you want to confirm the correct use of a name, send us a terminology request or contact us at 416 327-2723.

To Top16. Can I restrict my search to a specific field?

It is possible to restrict your search to a particular subject field, ministry or entity, using the filter function. For more information, refer to the Search Help.

To Top17. When I get too many results, how do I find the name I am looking for?

If you get too many results, it may be helpful to modify your search by adding one or more keywords, with or without asterisks. For example, the search chain government*services will return many entries containing "government services". Adding the keyword "cluster" to the search chain without an asterisk (i.e, government services cluster) will return only two records with the name "Government Services Cluster". Adding the keyword "cluster" with an asterisk (i.e., government services*cluster) will return two additional names: "Government Service Delivery Cluster" and "Government Services Delivery Information and Information Technology Cluster". It is possible to further narrow your search to a particular subject field, ministry or entity by applying filters.

To Top18. I get no results when I search the databases. What should I do?

If your search returns no results, check whether you have chosen the correct source language and whether you have entered the word or character chain correctly. Use asterisks to broaden your search; for example, to find all the entries for "agency office", use agency*office. This search will return the records for "Agency Appointments Office" and "Agency Relations Office". You can also refer to the Search Help.
If you are still unable to find the information you need, send the Terminology Unit a terminology request or call us at 416 327-2723. We encourage you to send us your requests since ONTERM is updated and new records are created in response to the requests we receive. Keep in mind that the Official Names Ontario database includes only Government of Ontario official names and no document titles.

Terminology Requests

To Top19. What's the best way to submit a terminology request?

In general, it is best to use the Terminology Request Form. You may also send an email to with the official name(s) requested, your phone number and the Translation Tracking System (TTS) job number, if applicable. Please also attach the document(s) where the requested names are used and specify the deadline (date and time) by which you need an answer.
A terminologist is available to respond to requests between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, excluding statutory holidays.

To Top20. How will I know if my terminology request has been received?

After you submit a terminology request, you will receive an email confirmation when the Terminology Unit receives your message. If you do not receive the confirmation email, please call us at 416 327-2723 to let us know.

To Top21. What is the turnaround time for a terminology request?

Our turnaround time takes into account the requested deadline and the order in which the requests are received. It is best to give the Terminology Unit at least 24 hours or more to respond. Whenever possible, send your questions well in advance.

To Top22. What should I do if I have an urgent request?

If you have an urgent request, it is best to submit it using the Terminology Request Form but also draw our attention by leaving us a telephone message at 416 327-2723. Please remember to specify the time and date by which you need a reply.

To Top23. I am a translator and I need a new French equivalent outside business hours or during holidays. What should I do?

If you are a translator and need an equivalent for a new official name outside business hours (Mon – Fri, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) or during holidays, you may use an unofficial equivalent (in lower case) in your text. Please also send your unofficial equivalent to so that the Terminology Unit can verify and, if warranted, officialise it, and add it to ONTERM.

To Top24. If an official government name appears in a legal context such as in a contract, should I reconfirm it with the Terminology Unit?

Although we strive to keep ONTERM as accurate and current as possible, it is best to reconfirm official government names whenever their use may have any legal implications. For confirmation, call our Terminology Unit at 416 327-2723 or submit a terminology request.

To Top25. Where can I have a business card, letterhead or signage translated?

If you are part of the Ontario Public Service (OPS), you can have business cards, letterheads or standard signage translated at no charge by our Terminology Unit. Use the Terminology Request Form to send us your request.
Standard signage refers to signs that designate a government office or are used repeatedly in different locations across the Ontario government. For examples of standard signage, please refer to the Language Used in Ontario Government Signage.

To Top26. Where can I find the titles of an OPS corporate directive, operating policy or guideline?

These can be found in Titles of Ontario Public Service Corporate Directives, Operating Policies and Guidelines. If you cannot find the title in the list, please send us a terminology request.

Other Resources

To Top27. Where can I find the titles of Government of Ontario publications and forms?

You can verify titles of Ontario government publications on the ServiceOntario Publications website. Titles of forms are available in the Central Forms Repository.

To Top28. Where can I access Ontario bills, statutes and regulations?

Ontario statutes and regulations are on the e-Laws website. First, second and third readings of bills can be found on the Legislative Assembly website.

To Top29. The document I am translating has an embedded glossary. What do I do?

Technical Questions

To Top30. What should I do if I'm unable to connect to the ONTERM site?

If you have difficulties accessing ONTERM, please report the problem to the Government Translation Service at

To Top31. Is there a size limit when attaching files to the Terminology Request Form?

The total size of all files attached to a request must not exceed 9 MB.

To Top32. What are the technical requirements needed to be able to search the ONTERM databases?

To be able to search the ONTERM databases, you need to have at a minimum Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3, and JavaScript must be enabled.

To Top33. Are there technical requirements related to the Terminology Request Form?

Consult the Technical Help on ​how to submit the Terminology Request Form.

To Top34. I just found a broken link. What should I do?

If there is a broken link on the ONTERM site, please contact the Government Translation Service by email at​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​