Feds pledge $1.9 million to keep L’Université de l’Ontario open until 2020

Posted on January 15, 2019 in Education Delivery System

OttawaSun.com – News

The federal government is committing nearly $2 million to keep hopes for L’Université de l’Ontario alive even though the provincial government has cancelled funding for the project.

“We will always be there for the Franco-Ontarian community as a partner for the French University of Ontario,” said Mélanie Joly, whose cabinet portfolio includes official languages.

“We just approved $1.9 million to support the work done by the team currently in place up to January 2020.”

Funding for the L’Université de l’Ontario français was set to expire Jan. 15 — meaning staff would be laid off — “jeopardizing the preparatory work already completed,” Joly wrote to Caroline Mulroney, the province’s minister of francophone affairs, adding that she was concerned about the impact on Franco-Ontarians.

Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Amanda Simard — who left the PC government to sit as an Independent in November over the province’s treatment of francophone issues, which included eliminating an independent office of the French-language services commissioner and funding for the planned university — tweeted that it was “great news” and that she was “proud to be able to count on our federal government to support the franco(phone) community.”

Joly wrote to Mulroney in an undated letter released Sunday that the federal government received a request for one-time funding from the team behind the plans for the university for preliminary work establishing the Francophone Knowledge and Innovation Hub in Toronto. Aimed at uniting the organizations and agencies that serve francophones, it could host the future university, Joly wrote.

Joly also pointed to $2.7 billion available over five years as part of the federal government’s new action plan for official languages, some of which has already been used to support post-secondary institutions for official-language minority communities, “and is ready to do so again.”

The provincial government would have to pay 50 per cent of total costs, but federal programs have the “flexibility” to cover startup costs in the first years as long as a provincial contribution is made in subsequent years, Joly wrote.

More than 12,000 people have signed a petition organized by Ottawan Clayre Bertrand after Premier Doug Ford announced in mid-November that he was cancelling the project.

Dyane Adam, chair of the would-be university’s board of governors, thanked Joly and her government for their “strong commitment to the Franco-Ontarian community and their support for an institution essential to its vitality.”


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