For Immediate Release
Clock is Ticking for Funding of French-Language Daycare
Ottawa, January 24, 2024 – Two major organizations representing Canada’s French-speaking minority communities are calling on the federal government not to abandon Francophone families. The Commission nationale des parents francophones (CNPF) and the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA) issued a joint plea today to the government to accept a key amendment made to Bill C-35, An Act respecting early learning and child care in Canada.
In December, the Senate amended Bill C-35 to confirm the government’s commitment to long-term funding of French-language child care services in Francophone minority communities. The CNPF and the FCFA are very worried about the government’s silence on whether it will support this amendment and, as a result, are launching a letter campaign via a website, sauvonsnosgarderies.com.
“The data shows that there is a severe shortage of French-language child care spaces across the country, and it will get worse if this amendment is rejected. Every single time Francophone parents have no choice but to rely on English-language daycare for their child, it’s one more individual we risk losing to assimilation. This is about the future of French in Canada, nothing less,” says CNPF Executive Director Jean-Luc Racine.
The Senate amendment to Bill C-35 must now be studied by the House of Commons, which, for the FCFA and the CNPF, represents an opportunity for the government to illustrate its commitment to protecting and promoting French. Should the amendment be rejected in the House, it would be a catastrophe for the vitality of French in Canada.
“Parliament has just taken a historic step to protect French by modernizing the Official Languages Act. We’re asking the government to make a gesture in line with that commitment. The Commissioner of Official Languages and renowned jurists such as Michel Bastarache have spoken out in favor of these funding guarantees for early childhood education in French. Adopting the bill as amended is a win for early childhood education in French. Adopting the bill as amended is a win for early childhood, for French in Canada and for the government,” says FCFA President Liane Roy.
The two associations are calling French-speaking parents as well as concerned citizens to write to their member of Parliament to ask them to vote in favour of the Senate amendment to Bill C-35. The sauvonsnosgarderies.com features the ability to write to MPs in a few minutes.
The FCFA is the national voice of 2.8 million French-speaking Canadians in nine provinces and three territories. With five decades of expertise on language rights and the protection of French, it is a key partner for the governments of Canada and Quebec on issues related to Francophonie. It also leads national efforts on Francophone immigration to the communities it represents. The FCFA heads a national network of some 900 institutions across the country and has 21 member organizations.
The Commission nationale des parents francophones (CNPF) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring together, represent and support provincial and territorial organizations while also strengthening their ability to accompany parents in their family and community environment. The CNPF works closely with several national partners active in the sectors of education, child care and the representation of Canada’s Francophone and Acadian communities.
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Serge Quinty, Communications Director, FCFA
Tel. : (613) 286-4820
- Bill C-35, An Act respecting early learning and child care in Canada, was amended by the Senate in December. The amendment modifies section 8 as follows: The Government of Canada is committed to maintaining long-term funding for early learning and child care programs and services, including those for aboriginal peoples and official language minority communities.
- Since the bill has been amended, the Senate amendment must be adopted by the House of Commons. The vote could take place withing the next few weeks. The government has given no indication on whether it intends to support the amendment.
- Prominent jurists have told the Senate that without this amendment, Section 8 could be read as intentionally excluding official language minority communities.
- The CNPF and the FCFA are calling on French-speaking parents and concerned citizens to write to their member of Parliament via the website sauvonsnosgarderies.com.
Why it Matters
- Once it becomes law, Bill C-35 will dictate how future child care agreements will be negotiated and what type of funding programs will be set up.
- Currently, Francophone minority communities are most often overlooked by provincial and territorial governments in terms of creation of French-language child care spaces.
- Government programs and cycles of federal-provincial/territorial early childhood agreements are finite and have a beginning and an end. Legislation is much more permanent.
French-language Child Care in Numbers
- According to the 2021 census, 141,635 children aged 4 or younger have a right to education in French in a minority context in Canada. However, approved French-language child care spaces are available for only 20 percent of these children.
- In Alberta, only 19 out of the 1,500 new child care spaces announced in 2022 were awarded to the Francophone community. This represents 1.3 percent of these spaces while Francophones account for 2 percent of Alberta’s population.
- In New Brunswick, only 300 of the 1,900 new child care spaces announced in 2022 were designated as French-language. This represents 16 percent of these spaces while Francophones account for more than 30 percent of the province’s population.
- In November 2023, the government of Saskatchewan announced the creation of 2,349 new child care spaces, of which only 28 new spaces were awarded to the Francophone community. This represents 1.2 percent of these new spaces while children aged 4 or younger who have a right to education in French account for 5.1 percent of all children in this age category in the province.
- British Columbia has made no funding commitment regarding the creation of French-language child care spaces.