The reduction of the Ford government for frank-Ontarian services is more than a deep defect for the province's 620,000 francophones. They are an attack on our Canadian commitment to official languages and hundreds of thousands of English speaking families who have accepted French in submerged and other programs in Ontario and throughout Canada.
Through our country, Anglophone children learn French unprecedentedly. According to the latest government numbers from Ontario, more than 280,000 Ontario students work more than any French on any given day than they are required in English school boards – from learning after school to full French immersion. Add another 200,000 plus across the country.
That's half a million English children intensively learning the second official language of Canada – every working day.
But there is a lot more in the game. These children and their families also express strong commitment to the fabric in our country. They must actively choose. It is often embarrassing and challenging – especially given the many additional requirements that we often ask students today.
In many parts of the province and the country, students and their families have to overcome significant structural barriers in order to get the amount of French education in another language they want and need. However, from year to year these pupils and their parents are registered with record numbers.
A growing interest in French immersion from journalists to Canada shows that our readiness to share and compromise and support our Francophonie minorities known far and wide. Over Ontario, one of the most popular areas for French immersion is the Peel Region – where immigrants account for 80 percent of the population's rise. And in the community of Premier Doug Ford, Etobicoke, the new possibilities for French immersion were an important issue in the election of commissioners this autumn.
These families know that something more important than learning a language or accumulating a loan. Something called a nation building.
And this does not happen in a vacuum. Support to French learning is directly related to the health and growth of the Canadian French population – including a million francophone living outside Quebec. It's a sensitive ecosystem. That is why the reduction of minority language services in Ontario is so wrong and destructive.
The prevailing attitude towards Franco-Ontarian contributes to our national identity and our international credibility. It affects our unity as a nation. It improves our reputation as a good place to live and a good place to do business. It's who we are and what we are trying to be.
Official languages support 80 percent of Ontario citizens. But anglos can be happy. We are quite accustomed to our provincial government that works for us, supports, promotes and protects French as the first and second language.
The willingness to give up the French language commissioner who intervenes when we are offending to support our French minority is a bit of a shock. Just five years ago, the position became a legislator with the unanimous support of progressive conservatives, liberals and the NDP.
Innovative plans for learning the 21st century in French at the Universite de l'Ontario francais are another blow, not only for Francophonie, but also for our French cities and the city of Toronto. This is another attack on investment in post-secondary opportunities in GTA. And it reduces post-secondary at just the cost without analyzing the benefits that a solid job employs.
In 2017, legislation was adopted with computers that expressed their "long-standing" support to the French university in both official languages, while at the same time requesting the project to expand and include more programs. Damage was not with the costs, but with the scope. It is clear that this support was not strong enough to get rid of this new attack on reasonable services for Franco-Ontarcs.
Legislation that deals with this service is called "Taking action to order a fiscal house in Ontario in order". It needs to be known as "Making an Ontario Spit and Cockroach, while simultaneously alienating the shores to the coast of French-Canadian states to the coast, causing an unnecessary linguistic crisis, ignoring the Anglophone majority in Ontario that supports official linguistic bilingualism and endangers Canadian unity."
Mari Cruden is a volunteer member of the French as a Second Language Advisory Board in the Toronto District Board of School and a recipient of Pristina Ontario de la Francophonie.