Ontario's French university will be located in downtown Toronto, province says

The provincial government says a new Francophone university will be located in downtown Toronto. 

Federal government to fund university for first 5 years before turning it over to province, NDP says

In the next decade, the province expects 290,000 Francophone students to seek out a university education in French. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

The provincial government says a new Francophone university will be located in downtown Toronto. 

Ross Romano, Ontario's Minister of Colleges and Universities announced details of the new, French-only school Wednesday morning. 

Universite de l'Ontario Francais will be located in downtown Toronto on Lower Jarvis Street.

In his announcement at Queen's Park, Romano said adding a French-only university to Ontario's education system will cement its worldwide reputation as "being the best." 

But It wasn't easy to get to this point.

The project was first announced under Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government.

After the Progressive Conservative government was elected, it initially cancelled the project.

Following protests from Franco-Ontarians and extended talks with the federal government, the province reversed that decision.

The school is now in a position to welcome an estimated 61 per cent increase in Francophone students over the next 10 years, Romano said. 

The bulk of that growth will be in southwestern and central Ontario, he added.   

"We're expecting to see 290,000 [Francophone] students across this province, students who are going to be able to study in a facility like this and gain access to a top quality education."

The goal, Romano said, is to ensure students receive an education that leads to a "quality job that's going to meet labour market needs."

Ross Romano is Ontario's Minister of Colleges and Universities. (Erik White/CBC)

But Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said the university "does very little" for northerners.

"I supported a university by francophones for francophones for all of Ontario," she said. "I represent northerners, people in northeastern Ontario."

"I have nothing against having a campus in Toronto. There are francophones in Toronto and they deserve access," she said. "But I also I will continue to push so that access to francophone university courses continues to be available in northern Ontario in a way that makes sense to us."

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas says the Ford conservatives have not yet contributed any money to a French University in Toronto. (Legislative Assembly of Ontario)

She added that it's the federal government that will be funding the school for the first five years, after which the costs of operating will turn over to the province.

Gélinas said that makes the province's commitment questionable.

"The downside is that because there is no involvement from the provincial government, because the provincial government doesn't invest a single cent in it, how committed are they to it?"

"The government speaks with their words but they speak louder with their actions, and to this day the Ford government has not invested a single cent in in that project."

The university is expected to begin accepting students in 2021. Plans are in place for the construction of the building at 9 Jarvis, which is approximately 1.5 kilometres away from the College Boreal campus in Toronto.