Ontario Takes Action to Support Access to French-Language Education
June 17, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government is strengthening French-language education through a new four-year strategy to recruit, train and retain more French teachers. The strategy will help to address the ongoing shortage of French teachers and ensure continued access to high-quality French-language education in the public education system for working families. To support the successful implementation of the strategy, Ontario will invest $12.5 million over the next four years. The announcement was made today by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, and Stan Cho, Member of Provincial Parliament for Willowdale. Access to a supply of French-language educators is a problem facing jurisdictions across Canada. Informed by recommendations from the Working Group on Teacher Shortage in the French-Language School System, and feedback from other sector partners and stakeholders, Ontario’s strategy focuses on:
Building awareness of teaching pathways, including recruitment efforts in French-speaking jurisdictions abroad;
Removing barriers to teacher training programs;
Improving flexibility of teacher training programs, and
Ensuring supportive teaching environments.
“Our government recognizes that the French-language education system in Ontario is essential to the vitality of our province’s Francophone community,” said Minister Lecce. “Our four-year plan will help recruit and retain the best French-language educators in our country, help finally end the teacher shortage, and incentivize a new generation of talented individuals to pursue French-language education.” “Ontario is taking immediate and meaningful action to address shortages in French-language educators in our province,” said Minister Romano. “Whether quickly upskilling those already working in the education system or supporting individuals looking to start their training, we have world-class French language colleges and universities ready to help increase the supply of well-trained French teachers. This strategy will continue to support initiatives that harness the talents and contributions of Ontario’s Francophonie, and fuel stronger economic recovery and growth for Ontario.” The strategy will create more professional learning opportunities for teachers, provide new culturally relevant resources and supports, and includes a robust data collection exercise to better understand factors contributing to the teacher shortage. The strategy will leverage work already underway, including projects funded in part by the federal government under the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy in Minority French-Language Schools and the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Minority-Language Education and Second Official-Language Instruction. “Through this strategy, our government is addressing the shortage of French-language teachers in Ontario and encouraging their hiring and recruitment,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Francophone Affairs. “The actions we are starting now will have long-term positive impacts on access to quality French-language education in our province.” The strategy will also have positive impacts on French as a Second Language (FSL) programs in the English-language education system, which has been experiencing similar shortages. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities will consult with English-language faculties of education and school board associations on ways to modernize the Initial Teacher Education FSL program by reducing barriers to increase enrolment of prospective FSL teachers for elementary schools and support their successful transition to the teaching workforce. In addition, the ministries will jointly issue a call for proposals to fund Initial Teacher Education FSL program providers to deliver flexible and targeted programming or services that help to increase the pool of FSL teachers for elementary schools. "The government's commitment to adopt a strategy to implement some of the recommendations of the Groupe de travail sur la pénurie d’enseignantes et d’enseignants dans le système d’éducation en langue française en Ontario will act as the cornerstone to respond to the glaring problem of teacher shortage,” declared in a joint statement Johanne Lacombe, President of the Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques (AFOCSC) and Denis Chartrand, President of the Association des conseils scolaires des écoles publiques de l’Ontario (ACÉPO). “The two associations take this opportunity to thank the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) and the Ministry of Education of Ontario for their valuable collaboration as members of the working group. School boards and their associations are committed to play an active role in the implementation of the proposed solutions.”
The Working Group on Teacher Shortage in the French-Language School System began work in Fall 2020 with the mandate to address the recruitment and retention of teachers in the French-language school system.
The French-language (FL) education network is comprised of Centre Jules-Léger and 12 school boards across the province – eight Catholic and four public including 471 elementary and secondary schools.
There are more than 111,000 students enrolled in FL schools this year.
More than one million students are enrolled in French as a Second Language (FSL) programs in the English-language school system, including 250,000 students enrolled in the French Immersion program.
In some parts of Ontario, growth in student enrolment, combined with the decrease in recently certified FL and FSL teachers by more than 50 per cent in FL programs (1125 to 568 per year) and 60 per cent in FSL programs (1966 to 668 per year), has resulted in a shortage of teachers for both the French- and English-language education systems.
Since 2020, the Ministry of Education has invested $1 billion in new Capital Priorities projects: of these investments, $82.9 million supports 8 new schools, 2 permanent additions and 249 licensed child care spaces for French language school boards.