Access to Postsecondary Education: An Action Plan to Combat Inequality
TORONTO, October 24, 2013 – French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau believes that the Action Plan for French-Language Postsecondary Education unveiled today by the Ontario government paves the way for the development and implementation of concrete, pragmatic solutions to remedy the feeble 0-3% French-language college and university program access rates in Central-Southwestern Ontario.
Through this action plan, the government is committed to gradually increasing the annual funding provided to all French-language and bilingual postsecondary institutions capable of offering French-language programs of study in Central-Southwestern Ontario up to 2015-2016. The government is also committed to establishing an advisory body on French-language education by the spring of 2014 and to assessing Glendon University College’s capacity to offer more French-language programs.
In a climate of budget restrictions, the government is demonstrating vision by investing in the future of the Francophone and Francophile community and in the indisputable asset that a population fluent in both of Canada’s official languages represents in an increasingly competitive economy. This approach will certainly prove highly beneficial and will help Ontario to make the most of its advantages and exploit its full potential. While this first step is clearly in the right direction, the Commissioner feels that a number of important issues remain, including the autonomy of Glendon College and the mandate and membership of the advisory body.
“I congratulate the government on developing this action plan,” said the Commissioner. “The government is showing leadership by providing substantial funding for the development of new French-language programs in Central-Southwestern Ontario. These programs will meet the growing needs of students who wish to pursue a postsecondary education in French in the region.”
“Although this action plan includes a provision to review Glendon College’s capacity to offer more French-language programs, it doesn’t address the issue of governance by Francophones, which is critical to protecting current French-language programs and developing new ones,” noted the Commissioner. “In fact, Glendon College currently has no real decision-making power in the creation of new French-language programs without the consent of its parent institution, York University.”
“I am concerned that the proposed deadline for establishing the advisory body is too far away for it to address Francophones’ needs in a timely fashion,” added the Commissioner. “In addition, there is no indication that the body’s mandate will fall within the parameters set out in my recommendation and the Expert Panel’s recommendation. In particular, it is important that a prominent role in the body also be given to postsecondary institutions that are already offering French-language programs in Central-Southwestern Ontario, such as Collège Boréal, which has been working in the field for 10 years.”
- Only two of the five postsecondary institutions that offer French-language programs in Central-Southwestern Ontario have Francophone governance: Collège Boréal and La Cité collégiale.
- In their respective reports entitled No access, no future and Moving Forward, the Commissioner and the Expert Panel on French-Language Postsecondary Education both recommended that the government establish a new secretariat to determine the need for postsecondary education programs and services for the Francophone population of Central-Southwestern Ontario.
- According to the 2011 Census, there are 218,765 Francophones in Central-Southwestern Ontario, more than one third of the province’s total Francophone population.
- It is estimated that by 2020, nearly half of Ontario’s Francophone population will be living in the Central-Southwestern region. The Francophone community of Central-Southwestern Ontario has a higher growth rate than any other Francophone community in the province.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
You can view the news release of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities at http://goo.gl/UXGCf2, the French Language Services Commissioner’s report No access, no future at http://goo.gl/o1RJML, and the report of the Expert Panel on French-language Post-secondary Education in Central-Southwestern Ontario, entitled Moving Forward, at http://ontario.ca/p56.
The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner works to ensure active, integrated delivery of French-language services in support of the development of the Francophone community and Ontarian society.
Simon Côté, Public Relations and Communications Officer
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
Cell phone: (416) 906-7021
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