Francophones encouraged by Ontario government’s gesture on French Language university

Ottawa, June 26 2019 – The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is heartened by news the government of Ontario has reached-out to its federal counterpart to “open a constructive dialogue” that could lead to a co-funding arrangement for the Université de l’Ontario français (UOF), Ontario’s French language university. On June 25th, a letter sent by Ontario’s Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney, and the Minister for Training, Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, to federal Minister of Official Languages and La Francophonie, Mélanie Joly, confirms the opening of a dialogue between both levels of government.

“We’ve known for many years that students interested in pursuing their university studies in French either have to leave the region or study in English”, explains AFO President, Carol Jolin. “Currently, 2 out of 3 employers in Central and Southwestern Ontario requiring highly skilled bilingual labour are unable to fill positions. This will lead to a shortage of 170,000 bilingual graduates between now and 2030 in essential areas such as health and education”.

Last November 15th, 2019, in its 2018 Ontario Fiscal Review and Economic Statement, the provincial government announced it was suspending the opening of the French Language university until further notice. In the following weeks, the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario urged both the federal and provincial governments to develop a co-funding agreement.

Recently, the AFO published a report on the projected economic and social benefits of the Université de l’Ontario français. It compares medium sized post-secondary institutions such as the Université de Moncton as well as Nipissing University and Brandon University. Based on comparative analysis, the Université de l’Ontario français could generate between 56 and 79 million dollars in economic spin offs by 2024-2025 and create 400 jobs by 2027-2028.

“The Université de l’Ontario français is a win-win for all. Bilingualism is not only an asset, but also an opportunity for Ontario to diversify its economy locally, provincially and internationally”, says Carol Jolin. “We look forward to the provincial and federal governments signing a formal funding agreement”.

The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is the umbrella organisation and the political voice of Ontario’s Francophone community. Its mandate is to assist the Francophone community across the province in working together and to provide community representation, in particular to advocate for the rights of Ontario’s 744,000 Franco-Ontarian citizens.