Ottawa, June 12th 2020 – L’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is delighted by the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in favour of the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique’s (Francophone Education Authority of B.C.’s) case against the province of British Columbia. After a 10 year battle, the AFO is very pleased that the Supreme Court recognizes the importance of Article 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This Charter article is fundamental to countering the effects of assimilation in Francophone communities across Canada. It ensures the right to access a French-language education (in a minority setting) that is equivalent to the systems offered to the majority.
On top of this great victory, the provincial government of British Columbia will now be required to pay $6 million in damages and interest to the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique for not fulfilling its duty to cover the costs of school transportation for the years 2002 to 2012, as well as pay $1.1 million to cover the funding that the French-language education system should have received. This is a big step forward for the constitutional rights of Francophones in Canada.
“Financial costs are no longer an excuse to prohibit access to French-language education in this country. This is a great victory for Franco-Columbians and as well as Francophones and their allies across the country. All Canadians should have equal opportunities in both official languages across Canada! This decision is historic and its importance cannot be understated. Today, the highest court in the land has recognized the importance of offering French-language education systems and infrastructures that are equivalent to those of the Anglophone education system.” stated the president of the AFO, Carol Jolin.
“In the wake of a modernisation of the Official Language Act, this conflict that lasted a full decade shows us that governments can still try to lessen their responsibilities and obligations in regards to linguistic rights. Let’s take this extraordinary opportunity to update our linguistic rights in a way that will build a country where Francophones will no longer need to constantly fight to live and grow in French.”, continues Carol Jolin.
“In conclusion, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the 744 000 Franco-Ontarians, who have had this important cause very dear to their hearts, the plaintiffs, the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, the Fédération des parents francophones de Colombie-Britannique, Annette Azar-Diehl, Stéphane Perron and Marie-Nicole Dubois. We are eternally grateful for all your hard work and everything you have accomplished.” concludes the president of the AFO.