PCs scale back cuts to French services, but still no university that Windsor francophones want
'It pushes us back at least 50 years,' says Francophone Community Centre executive director
Valerie Hodgins' children are both in French schools in Windsor-Essex. With high school graduation looming, not having a French language university near home is presenting them a difficult choice.
"They don't want to lose the past 14 years they've had," said Hodgins. The other option would be to move far away from home, which wouldn't be an easy choice.
Originally, the province had planned a French-language university in Toronto. The allotted funding was slashed when the Progressive Conservatives released its fall economic statement, which also said it was eliminating the position of the French language services commissioner.
Those cuts sparked a backlash, including the community in Windsor-Essex.
"That seems to be a planned attack on the Francophone community in Ontario," said Didier Marotte, executive director of Francophone Community Centre.
The PCs announced they were scaling back some of the cuts Friday afternoon, including reversing the decision on the commissioner. However, the university still isn't happening.
"While the fiscal realities of our province's finances prohibit a new stand-alone French Language University right now, I will continue to support models of education that meet the needs of Francophone students and the Francophone community," said Caroline Mulroney, who was named minister of Francophone affairs Friday.
Marotte said not having the university, that could potentially have a campus in Windsor, is very upsetting.
"It pushes us back at least 50 years," he said.
He mentioned the community had been fighting for a university for a long time, and it has been in the making for the past few years. Back in April, the province announced the appointment of 12 members to the board of governor for the university.
"To pull a plug on that now, it's going to cost a lot of money first of all," said Marotte. "It's going to come back. It's going to come back some point in time."