Quebec and Ontario Sign an Agreement in Support of Francophone Minorities

I am delighted that the governments of Ontario and Quebec signed a declaration on La Francophonie last week at their annual joint cabinet meeting in Toronto. The two provinces agreed to work together toward the promotion, protection, longevity and vitality of Francophone culture and heritage. I view this as an excellent step forward for the two provinces, recognizing Francophones’ key role in the constitution of Canada and within Canadian society.

I agree with the points made in the declaration, which are closely aligned with the priorities of the Commissioner’s Office, particularly on the subjects of education and immigration.

Through this declaration, Quebec and Ontario will promote exchanges between young Ontario Francophones, those attending French immersion classes and young Québécois. There are many challenges for French-as-a-second-language (FSL) education in Ontario.In fact, in recognition of this situation, I signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian Parents for French (Ontario) making clear our desire and will to develop closer ties in order to promote the value of the French language and Franco-Ontarian culture and the benefits of knowing both official languages.Intercultural exchanges are a promising way to pursue these advances.

Ontario and Quebec also call on the federal government to act quickly on Francophone immigration.This is a point that my fellow commissioners and I made recently when we urged the federal government to adopt four guiding principles for increasing Francophone immigration outside Quebec.While recognizing government efforts in the area of Francophone immigration to Canada, we feel that those efforts have not yet produced results.Moreover, on the same issue, I very recently released a joint report with the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada that emphasizes how important it is for the federal and provincial governments to include a Francophone perspective in their immigration policies and programs.

The two provinces also call on the federal government to provide support to Radio-Canada so that it can carry out its mandate.This issue is particularly important for Francophones in Ontario, since for many minority communities in the province, Radio-Canada is often the only French-language media outlet that broadcasts local content in French.

Lastly, the two provinces mention the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the Francophone presence in Ontario.On the eve of this important milestone, I am proud to see that the Francophone presence is still so dynamic in every corner of the province.This reflects an amazing cultural, social and economic contribution to the province that deserves to be officially celebrated.

When all is said and done, this official declaration by Canada’s two most populous provinces is not just a statement of good intentions; it is an excellent example of real commitment to Francophone minority communities.

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