Premiers’ Conference, Statement by the Honourable William G. Davis (23 February 1978)

Document Information

Date: 1978-02-23
By: William G. Davis
Citation: Premiers’ Conference, Statement by the Honourable William G. Davis, Premier of Ontario on the Occasion of the Premiers’ Conference, Doc 850-9/008 (Montreal: 23 February 1978).
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DOCUMENT: 850-9/008
Statement by the Honourable William
G. Davis
Premier of Ontario
on the occasion of the Premiers
February 23, 1978
February 23, 1978

DOCUMENT NO: 850-9/O08
FEBRUARY 23, l978
At. St. Andrew’s-by-the Sea the Provincial Premiers under-
took their first major examination of Minority language
education and asked for a report. Today we have dis-
cussed that report and have reached a Consensus on
certain principles.
Ontario has particularly strong reasons to be interested
in the current national debate on the rights of official
language minority groups. There are more French-speaking
Canadians living in Ontario than in all other provinces
combined, with the exception of Quebec. Statistics Canada
1976 Census French as a mother tongue: Ontario 462,075;
8 other provinces: 434,275.
Ontario recognizes that its role in respect of the rights
of its official minority community has important national
connotations. Whether or not it is possible for the
French speaking community outside Quebec, not only to
survive but to grow and prosper depends very much on
the attitude that prevails in our province.
In the report on The State of Minority Language Education
in the Ten Provinces of Canada, a description was given
of Ontario’s extensive efforts that are being made to

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ensure that Franco-Ontarians receive a first rate educa-
tion in their mother tongue. Since the preparation of
this report, I am happy to say that Ontario has under-
taken a number ofother initiatives in the area of French
language education such as the establishment of teams of
French speaking specialists located in our regional offices
to provide additional educational services to French
language schools and the provision of $2,500,000 for
the development of textbooks for use in schools attended
by French-speaking pupils.
There is now increasing acceptance among the people of
Ontario of the principle that, where practicable, English-
speaking and French speaking Canadians have the right to
be educated in their own language. In fact, such rights
are entrenched in our legislation. While Ontario continues
to find merit in a constitutional change to enshrine those
rights on a national basis we shall not let differences in
opinion on this point become a stumbling block in our
continuing efforts to bring minority language education to
all members of the community in Ontario.

There is no doubt in my mind that all Ontarians must
become more aware of their responsibility to help their
French-speaking fellow citizens maintain their linguistic
and cultural identity. They must also become more
actively involved in helping the French speaking community
Ontario was indeed pleased to support the resolution
adopted at the 18th annual conference of Provincial
Premiers in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick last August and
to participate in the preparation of a report on the
state of minority language education in each province.
The discussions initiated at St. Andrew’s were continued
on a very positive and receptivebasis at the meeting of
the Council of Ministers of Education held in Victoria
last month.
I believe that the report we have received today makes
it clear that there is a strong foundation on which new
developments in the area of minority language education
can take place.

As an indication of Ontario’s sincere and on-going efforts
to increase its services to meet the needs of its French~
speaking minority, I would like to quote extensively from
the speech from the Throne on the opening of the new session
of the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday of this week:
“The fundamental rights of Franco Ontarians to
education in the French language have long been
recognized in Ontario. Franco Ontarians also
have a commitment from the Government for the
expansion of Government services in the French
language in accordance with need and population
We shall continue to build upon the strong
foundation already laid in the field of educa-
tion to ensure that French language programs
are available at all levels, where practicable,
to French-speaking Ontarians. At the same time,
the expansion of opportunities for English-
speaking pupils to develop French language capa-
city remains a priority.
During this session, there will be legislation
to increase the availability of French language
court trials in areas of the province where this
… /5

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service is needed. Amendments to The Judicature
Act and The Juries Act will guarantee the steps
taken in this direction. As well, the Government
will review proposals related to the use of
French in regulatory and other administrative
Present Government translation services will be
augmented to makemorepublic documents, publica-
tions and forms available in both French and
English. Of particular importance, a special
section will be established to begin work on
translating Ontario’s statutes into French.
All Ministries will undertake a program to identify
Government buildings and give highway directions
in both English and French in predominantly
Francophone areas.
The appointment of full-time coordinators of
French-language services in an additional number
of Ministries will enhance the capability of the
Government in responding to the community.”
In addition to these measures, the Minister of Education
is now considering further steps which will enable us to
make continued progress in living up to the spirit of

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Ontario’s minority language education legislation which
was first introduced in 1968 and which has been
progressively improved since that date.

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