The commissioner calls on the Minister of Education to act quickly on the lack of access to French-Language education.
TORONTO, July 4th, 2016 – The French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario recommends that the Minister of Education provide Ontario’s French-language school boards with additional resources and make regulatory changes to address the boards’ enrolment growth and retention challenges in the Greater Toronto Area. This is one of the recommendations in a new follow-up report entitled When the most elementary becomes secondary: Homework Incomplete.
This study relates to an investigation conducted in June 2011, which still shows that the number of French-language schools in Toronto is disproportionately low for the size of the Francophone population. Since 2012, the Ministry has been investing in the construction of new schools and the purchase of existing properties. However, those investments were mainly directed at the elementary level, despite the lack of access to secondary education, particularly in the eastern part of Toronto.
The report also focuses on the substantive equivalence of educational experience, an issue that is well described in the Rose-des-Vents decision. That decision by the Supreme Court of Canada clearly demonstrated the obligation that governments and school boards have to honour the rights of their official language minority by providing the Francophone community with access to an educational experience that is substantively equivalent to that of the majority in the areas of instruction, educational outcomes, extracurricular activities, and student travel times between home and school.
“Five years after the publication of my first report, the situation remains, unfortunately, almost unchanged for parents who are still not able to send their children to a secondary school that is within a reasonable distance,” says Commissioner François Boileau. “The French language school boards are having difficulty retaining students between Grades 8 and 9, because many of them are switching to English-language schools since the educational experience is simply not equivalent to the experience offered to the majority. It significantly undermines the sustainability of the Franco-Ontarian community, especially in the Greater Toronto area,” adds the Commissioner.
- In Ontario, the Ministry of Education is responsible for elementary and secondary education and has an obligation, under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to ensure that the right to receive an education in French is protected.
- The Commissioner recommends that the Minister of Education provide the school boards with greater support for construction projects or acquisitions of new secondary facilities to ensure access to French-language education in the Greater Toronto Area.
- The Commissioner also calls on the Minister to use the Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF) in calculating school requirements so as to better reflect the diversity of its student population and make more accurate enrolment forecasts.
The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner reports directly to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Its principal mandate is to ensure compliance with the French Language Services Act in the delivery of government services.
Lead, Strategic Communications
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
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