Chapter 2

A Human Story

2.5.3 Elementary and secondary education in the Greater Toronto Area

Even though minority language education rights at the elementary and secondary levels are guaranteed under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in 2010 the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner received a large number of complaints about the shortage of French-language high schools in the province, especially in Toronto. This situation left many parents in a dilemma, torn between sending their children to an often relatively overcrowded French-language school far from their residence and having them attend a nearby English-language school.

Despite their good will, the French-language school boards unfortunately cannot acquire unused or surplus sites from their English-language counterparts to meet their students’ needs, in part because of Ministry regulations and/or funding availability. As a result of this observation, the Commissioner launched a formal investigation whose final report was published in 2011. Entitled French-language schools in the Greater Toronto Area: When the most elementary becomes secondary,24 it documented the magnitude of the school shortage in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and included three recommendations urging the government to take action on this issue.

INV REP GTA schools JUN 2011 EN

It did not take the government long to act. In March 2012, the Commissioner expressed satisfaction25 with the measures taken by the Ministry of Education to solve the problem, including the funding of nine new French-language schools in the GTA.

The Commissioner also recommended that Ontario Regulation 444/9826 be amended to make the rules governing the sale and transfer of surplus schools between school boards more effective and efficient. Although a Public Asset Work Group27 consisting of key stakeholders was formed to address the issue, it is clear that three years after its establishment no corrective measures have yet been taken. The Commissioner is hopeful that the good will and commitment that the Ministry of Education exhibited at the outset in making the necessary regulatory changes will continue and that the Ministry will establish a timetable in the next few months.

24Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, Investigation Report — French-language schools in the Greater Toronto Area: When the most elementary becomes secondary, Toronto, 2011.

25Available online: (page consulted in May 2013).

26Available online: (page consulted in May 2013).
27For more information, see terms of reference (page consulted in May 2013).

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