In a historic decision, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered the Ministry of Education to create a separate funding envelope for Francophone schools in B.C.
Mark Power, the lawyer representing the French School Board and the Federation of Francophone Parents of B.C., says it’s a constitutional obligation for the government to provide access to French education.
“This is the first time that a judge anywhere in Canada has ordered a Ministry of Education to set up a separate and distinct capital funding envelope that can only be accessed by the minority language school board. This is unique, that’s trend setting, and that is a really major legal development.”
The plaintiffs were demanding at least 22 new French schools be built, but the judge ruled only four B.C. communities do not have access to “appropriate minority language educational facilities,” including Abbotsford.
The B.C. Supreme Court judge has awarded the French School Board $6 million for school bus service, saying the transportation system was “chronically underfunded.”
It’s part of a 1600-page decision on a lawsuit filed by the French school board and the Federation of Francophone Parents of B.C. against the BC Government.
The judge also ruled there is no requirement in B.C. to provide early childhood education in French under the Canadian Charter.
It’s unclear what the decision means in terms of more French education funding.
The ruling notes French language instruction is not French immersion instruction.
It does not teach English-speakers French as a second language. It teaches Francophone students using French as a language of instruction.
The ruling says In 2014/15, there were 5,382 students enrolled in its roughly 37 programmes province-wide.