Historic Agreement for the French language in Ontario
OTTAWA, January 22, 2020
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, the Honourable Ross Romano, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities, and the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Ontario Minister of Francophone Affairs, signed a historic funding agreement today, on behalf of the governments of Canada and Ontario, to support the Université de l’Ontario français, the first French-language university governed by and for Ontario Francophones.
The Université de l’Ontario français will be supported by an investment of $126 million over eight years. The agreement confirms that the Government of Canada will assume up to $63 million over five years. The Government of Ontario has committed to at least matching this amount starting in 2023–24.
“This is an historic day for Franco-Ontarians and Francophones all across Canada,” said Minister Joly. “It is an unprecedented step that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Canadians who will now have the opportunity to pursue higher education entirely in French here in the provincial capital and will unite Francophones from all regions of our country.”
“We are excited to be able to move forward with full implementation of the Université de l’Ontario français,” said Minister Romano. “Our government has always been committed to the university and to supporting access to the education and training of Ontario’s Francophone students who need to pursue rewarding careers and meet labour market demands.”
In early September 2019, the governments of Canada and Ontario signed a Memorandum of Understanding formally committing to work together to establish the Université de l'Ontario français. Since then, the governments have continued discussions to successfully complete an eight-year funding agreement. With this agreement, both governments affirm their commitment to addressing the needs of the more than 620,000 Francophones in Ontario.
“The Université de l'Ontario français is an important and long awaited project, critical to future generations of Franco-Ontarians,” said Minister Mulroney. “The new university is a great example of our government’s commitment to strengthening the Francophone community, investing in its future and ensuring the community’s continued contribution to Ontario’s prosperity.”
“We are delighted to achieve this historic milestone and to welcome, as planned, the first cohort in the fall of 2021,” said Dyane Adam, Chair of the Board of Governors for Université de l’Ontario français. “I want to thank the federal and provincial governments for their leadership and support and look forward to welcoming Ontario’s Francophone students to the Université de l’Ontario français.”
The Government of Ontario and various experts have identified the postsecondary education needs of Francophones as a priority. The most recent reports in 2013 and 2016 concluded that the Central-Southwestern region, in particular, can support a French-language university, demonstrated by strong and growing demand in these regions.
In 2017, the French-Language University Planning Board conducted the last comprehensive study on the subject and recommended that the university be located in downtown Toronto to serve the Central-Southwestern regions and the entire Francophone community in Ontario through partnerships with other post-secondary institutions. The Ontario government responded to these recommendations by passing the Université de l’Ontario français Act, 2017, but placed the project on pause in November 2018 due to fiscal concerns.
On September 7, 2019, the governments of Ontario and Canada concluded a Memorandum of Understanding, which is intended to lead to a multi-year funding agreement to support the implementation and start-up of the Université de l’Ontario français (UOF). Under this agreement, Canada would fund the first years of the university’s start-up phase, followed by Ontario’s investments starting in 2023-2024.
The UOF’s vision is to provide quality university programs, training, research and community services in French, which promote individual and collective development by building on the values of pluralism and inclusion. The implementation and start-up of the UOF will take place over eight years, between 2019-2020 and 2026-2027. This includes a series of phases, including a set-up and planning phase, the launch phase when the university opens its doors to students (Fall 2021), and ongoing operations to support a steady state. Student enrolment is expected to begin gradually with a small intake in several diploma programs delivered in partnership in 2019-2020, growing to about 1,500 students by 2026-2027 in a broader spectrum of programs, including certificates, baccalaureate and masters programs.
During the implementation and start-up phase, the UOF’s physical infrastructure will expand over two sites in Toronto, a temporary short-term site (years 1 and 2) and a temporary medium-term site (years 3 to 8), that will accommodate its administrative team and its learning, research and knowledge mobilization activities.
By 2026-2027, the UOF expects to reach financial maturity and a balanced budget. Beyond the eight-year agreement, the Government of Ontario will continue to provide operating support, as it does to other publicly-assisted post-secondary institutions, to ensure UOF’s sustainability.
This project supports the vitality of Ontario’s Francophone minority community and Canada’s linguistic duality, and will be funded under the Canada–Ontario Agreement on the Establishment of the Université de l'Ontario français 2019-2020 to 2026-2027, once signed by both parties.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
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