The federal government is being urged to work with its provincial and territorial counterparts to create an emergency assistance fund for post-secondary institutions that serve minority-language communities and whose survival is threatened by significant financial insecurity.
The Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages on April 19 adopted a motion on post-secondary institutions serving official language minority communities in Canada, in light of the financial difficulties some of these institutions, such as Laurentian University, are presently facing.
The motion was moved by Franco-Ontarian Senator Lucie Moncion. Moncion’s motion also urges the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages to conduct a study on the financial situation of post-secondary institutions serving official language minority communities, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these institutions.
“The committee noted the federal government’s commitment in Budget 2021 to invest, over a three-year period, in greater access to high-quality, post-secondary minority-language education across the country,” said a news release. “However, more needs to be done by all levels of governments to ensure the long-term stability and survival of these programs and the institutions that provide them.”
Post-secondary institutions serving official language minority communities in Canada are essential to the cultural, social and economic vitality and sustainability of these communities, said the news release.
A number of these Canadian institutions — including Laurentian University and the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean, among others — are in a precarious financial situation, in some cases due to chronic underfunding.
Laurentian University is seeking protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.
Recent cuts to French-language post-secondary programs at Laurentian University are diminishing access to such programs in Northern Ontario.
“As chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages, I am extremely concerned about the financial insecurity that many post-secondary institutions offering minority-language programs in Canada are facing,” said Senator René Cormier, chair, Standing Committee on Official Languages.
“Ensuring the long-term survival of these public institutions is an urgent issue that requires urgent action by multiple levels of government. We must prevent other post-secondary institutions serving official language minority communities from suffering the same turmoil as Laurentian University and Campus Saint-Jean.”