Court orders Sask. to fund French schools
The Saskatchewan government has been ordered to pay the province's francophone school board almost $3 million to cover a shortfall in funding for the coming academic year.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Guy Chicoine Monday awarded the Conseil scolaire fransaskois $2.3 million so it can meet its budget shortfall for the 2011-2012 school year, and another $500,000 to replenish the council's reserves.
"The simple fact is that for the CSF, a cut of $2.3 million is almost a 10 per cent reduction in its operating budget," Chicoine said. "While the court does not presume that the Government has unlimited financial resources, it has not been suggested by anyone that the Government cannot provide some additional funding until this matter is finally decided."
The French school division had asked the court for an interim order against the Saskatchewan government, claiming that it was underfunding French language schooling and shirking its charter responsibilities.
The government offered no immediate comment on the judgment. Chicoine said the funds must come from the government's general revenue fund in equal monthly payments starting Sept. 1.
The Conseil scolaire fransaskois is the school board responsible for the province's 14 francophone schools.
It had originally asked the government for $39 million for the 2011-2012 school year. The CSF says the francophone student population in Saskatchewan has grown 30 per cent over the past 10 years, and it's running out of space at its flagship Regina school, Ecole Monseigneur de Laval. The CSF says for that reason, students weren't getting the same opportunities as their English counterparts, a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The government refused to approve the 2011-2012 budget request and asked the CSF to adhere to a budget of $28.3 million, triggering the legal action.