Ontario will pour $12.5 million into recruiting and training French teachers over the next four years in an effort to address a shortage made more stark by an increasing demand for second-language programs.
The strategy aims to make French teacher training more flexible while reducing barriers, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said as he unveiled the plan Thursday.
“We are acting to meet the clear needs and fix a decade-long shortage in Ontario — and to be fair, a challenge right across this country,” he said. “Rather than a patchwork of efforts, we are implementing a comprehensive strategy.”
Ontario aims to hire as many as 500 new French teachers per year, Lecce said, though it make take some time to get to that point.
The government is working with the three French-language faculties of education in the province, at the University of Ottawa, Laurentian University and the Universite de l’Ontario francais, “to enhance the admission process to Initial Teacher Education programs.”
The plan, developed over the course of nine months, will see the province recruiting teachers from francophone communities within Canada and abroad.
The French-language teachers’ union, school board association and other stakeholders were involved in the process, the province said.
The teacher shortage affects both the French and English school systems in the province.
There are more than 110,000 students enrolled in French-language schools this year, per the Ministry of Education. More than a million students are enrolled in a program learning French as a second language. Of those, 250,000 are in French immersion.