In April, Ontario revised its admission requirements for French-language schools. This was accomplished through a broader amendment to the definition of who qualifies as a Francophone for provincial services. The change for school admissions was then turned into a news release and announcement by Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Madeleine Meilleur in June.
There has been precious little media coverage of the changes, with the Sarnia Observer being one exception.
The changes were made to address declining birth rates and an increase in immigration and the number of families with only one French-speaking parent.The implementation of these policies will likely have a greater impact on enrolment for boards existing in those parts of the province where the Francophone population is a minority, and where many families considering full-time French-language education for their children would technically be considered either Allophones (mother tongue other than English/French) or Anglophones.
"In the Sarnia area, basically what will be new for us will be families that speak neither French nor English upon their arrival in the area," said Janine Griffore, director with the Conseil Scolaire de District des Écoles Catholiques (du Sud-Ouest).
"I think the challenge there will be around the supports we can provide for that family ... to aid in a successful transition for the children."
Students in these areas have always been subjected to a means test before being permitted to enroll in French-first schools-- assessments conducted at the school level involving the principal and usually a superintendent. However, anecdotally, I've heard this means test is not always applied to the same standard, depending on how much of a presence the local French-language community holds. Our local CSDECSO school's population is 75 per cent Anglo or Allo, and many parents choose the school to provide vaunted education in our nation's second language.
In those areas of the province where there is enough French-language population, the expansion of these criteria likely won't make any difference as their populations are strong enough to support full enrolment.
All the same, many of these boards are also 'catching up' to decades of not having their own schools, so they're among the newest schools in the province too. Hopefully this doesn't factor into admission criteria.