Annual Report 2017-2018

Looking ahead, getting ready

PDF Version

4. Training and postsecondary education

Postsecondary education institutions are among the most important players in preparing Ontarians for the labour market. In order to prepare for future disruptions on the job market, it is still paramount to ensure the greatest number of Ontarians possible, including Francophones, have access to postsecondary studies. It is imperative to have designated colleges and universities that offer a number of programs in French. These institutions train students to become qualified bilingual professionals, ready to integrate into the active population. However, as the Commissioner has repeatedly submitted, there is a significant difference between English -language and French-language programs in these institutions, especially in the Central Southwest.151

In 2017, the provincial government announced its intention to establish the Université de l’Ontario français in Toronto to respond to this need and introduced the Université de l’Ontario français Act, 2017 as part of the Fall Economic Statement. On April 9, 2018, most sections of the Act came into force and the first Board of Governors of the university was appointed to continue the preparatory work required to meet the government’s target to open this new university to students in fall 2020. The University also intends to fill clear gaps in the workforce. The employers in the region find it difficult to recruit employees who are skilled in French, especially in the education, health, finance, commerce, communication, technology, administration and public-service sectors.152 This is why the new university proposes a collaborative approach to developing the curriculum with other universities and colleges.

First, the programs will be structured around today’s broad social issues such as human diversity, the urban framework, the globalized economy and the digital culture. Next, the development of a standard unilingual French curriculum with other bilingual establishments is intended to fill the labor gaps through training and professional development of the workforce. Finally, the University proposes French accreditation for Francophone and Francophile student registered in English-language partner universities.153 This rather innovative approach and type of program which, among other things, reflect transformative competencies, should be encouraged. There is, however, a drawback.

The University’s arrival could largely leave behind Francophone populations in the North. Currently served by several French-language and bilingual institutions, certain Northern areas recently experienced postsecondary program cuts or suspensions, significant budgetary restrictions and even entire campus closures.

To this end, the Commissioner proposes new approaches to preserve the dynamism of the Francophones populations and to minimize the impact of labour-market transformations.

Technology will continue to profoundly change our economy and our society. This is why the Commissioner recommends that a technological perspective be included in decision-making, and in the development or creation of programs. This technological perspective will, like the Francophone lens, enable all the ministries to reflect on the positive or negative effects that technology will have and to study its repercussions on Francophones.

The Commissioner also invites the government to strengthen its support for French-language and bilingual educational establishments in order to draw more qualified French teachers to the province. Solutions include attracting students to the field of teaching in Ontario and recruiting and accrediting qualified teachers trained in other Francophone countries. Collaborations, with the Ontario College of Teachers and “French” Destination Ontario for example, could be explored. Similarly, there should be more collaborations like those proposed by the Université de l’Ontario français in the development of innovative programs.

Support for French-language institutions should also be improved in the design and approval of programs, giving particular attention to the unique needs of Francophone workers who are potential victims of job losses in 2028. It would also be a tangible benefit to create new facilities in postsecondary or collegiate educational institutions, offering more possibilities to Franco-Ontarians living in the North.

As the Commissioner demonstrated, for the province to respect its commitments under the French Language Services Act, it is essential to eliminate the labour shortfalls in the education, health, finance, commerce, communication, technology, administration and public-service sectors.154 A useful way to do this is through continuous language training. Ontario should use its bilingualism more and favour this preparatory training on the changing labour market. The study of language is in line with global competencies and is a precious asset for Francophones. It seems essential to emphasize intensive programs in immersion and in French as a Second Language. Likewise, offering postsecondary bursaries to Anglophone students who wish to study in French is a recent promising initiative by the federal government.

Finally, immigration will make a significant contribution to shaping the future of the Francophone workforce. The Commissioner favours this impetus and suggests that we consider the implementation of a policy that eases tuition fees for international Francophone students who are prepared to remain in their community to work. Therefore, Francophone immigrant students are assured to be part of the workforce of the future, while contributing to the vitality and economic development of the Francophone population. This approach fits perfectly with the 5% Francophone immigration target that was set by the province, which is far from being achieved.


The Commissioner recommends to the Minister Responsible for francophone Affairs that an interministerial strategy be developed with her Cabinet colleagues to ensure there is a competent and efficient workforce that is also bilingual in Ontario. It will have to propose innovative solutions for:

  • an increase in the number of qualified teachers in french;
  • the design of new programs in french, including for the north;
  • the promotion and acquisition of bilingualism as a global employment skill; and
  • the support of permanent immigration for international francophone students.

  1. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. For more information, see

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *