Major Investment in Postsecondary Studies in French at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia

News release

BURNABY, British Columbia, June 10, 2021

Our two official languages are an asset for all Canadians, as they provide us with economic, social and cultural benefits. The Government of Canada supports and encourages Canadians in learning English and French, because bilingualism brings us together and sets us apart from the rest of the world.

Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament (Burnaby North–Seymour), announced that the Government of Canada is providing more than $3.3 million through Complementary funding in education to help Simon Fraser University respond to the growing demand from Francophone and Francophile students to receive their postsecondary education in French in British Columbia. Mr. Beech made this announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

The Government of British Columbia will invest $5 million to enable Simon Fraser University to continue to play its role as a leader in postsecondary education in French in the province.

In concrete terms, this investment by the two levels of government will allow the University, through its Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA), to pursue or advance certain priorities or initiatives, such as maintaining the French cohort program, increasing the number of courses available in French, and developing new ways to enrich campus life in French. In the longer term, this investment will provide the financial stability Simon Fraser University needs to pursue its commitment to improving access to French-language education and supporting a new generation of bilingual British Columbians.

This funding is provided through the Complementary funding in education as part of the Canada-British Columbia Agreement on Minority-Language Education and Second Official-Language Instruction 2020–2021 to 2022–2023


“Having the opportunity to pursue an education in the language of one’s choice is essential if our two official languages are to remain vibrant right across the country. The investment we are announcing today goes beyond financial support for Simon Fraser University—it is a commitment to young Canadians who wish to continue to develop their skills in French.”

—The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

“I am delighted to announce this significant investment by our government today. It is essential to our government and me that British Columbia’s Francophone community members have access to education in their language at recognized and committed postsecondary institutions. By broadening its French-language offerings, Simon Fraser University is contributing to the development of our province’s Francophone community.”

—Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament (Burnaby North–Seymour)

“We know learning to communicate in French will create lifelong opportunities for B.C. students and we know demand for French education programs remains high across the province. We are pleased to partner with the federal government and SFU on this initiative because it is critical; we continue to invest in French teachers to meet current and future program needs for students and families.”

—The Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, British Columbia Minister of Education

“With this funding, we will continue our efforts to make a world-class university education in French accessible to Francophones and all students who wish to expand their professional and personal horizons through both official languages. We are committed to offering an outstanding university experience with opportunities to learn in French and speak French outside the classroom in the context of social life, cultural activities, mobility programs and bilingual careers.”

—Joy Johnson, President and Vice-Chancellor, Simon Fraser University

Quick facts

  • According to the 2016 Census of Canada, Francophones outside Quebec represent 3.8 percent of the population, and the bilingualism rate for Anglophones outside Quebec is 6.8 percent. Projections for 2036 indicate that the percentage of Francophones outside Quebec could drop to 3 percent, and the national bilingualism rate could increase only among Francophones in Quebec.

  • Complementary funding in education aims to support one-time or developing projects that complement a provincial or territorial action plan under bilateral agreements on minority-language education and second official language instruction.

  • The Action Plan for Official Languages includes an investment of $2.7 billion over five years, including $500 million in new funding to support official-language minority communities and promote bilingualism across the country.

  • On February 19, Minister Joly outlined the Government of Canada’s intentions to modernize and strengthen the Official Languages Act and related instruments in the document English and French: Towards a substantive equality of official languages in Canada. This document proposes a range of changes and new measures to establish a new balance in language matters in Canada.

  • In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada proposes to provide an additional $121.3 million over three years, starting in 2021–22, to make high-quality postsecondary minority-language education available across Canada.

Associated links


For more information (media only), please contact:

Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage

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