Ontario will not convert the proposed French university abolition, despite the federal commitment to expand funding for the team working on the project, the provincial government said on Monday.
Minister of Education, Colleges and Universities, Merrilee Fullerton said that the progressive conservative government is currently not financially capable of supporting the Universite de l'Ontario franc.
"As a result, the Ministry of Education, Colleges and Universities will not provide additional funding to support the development of the new university while the initiative is halted," she said, adding that the team could access private and public funding from other units.
Fullerton's comments came after the Federal Minister for Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Melanie Joly informed the Ontario Government that Ottawa had provided 1.9 million funding to a school called the Franconian Knowledge and Innovation Center. Provincial funding for the Center and its staff ended on January 15th.
"This project is very much supported by the community and has support across the country," said Jolie George in a letter on Sunday. "I am concerned about the impact of this decision on the viability of the French and Ontario communities."
In 2017, school plans were announced
In 2017, the previous Liberal government announced school plans, but in November, harvesting was abandoned as part of their efforts to balance books. It would have been the first in the province to be the only French university with 600,000 francons and it will be located in the southwest of Ontario.
This step led to outrage and protests between franc-ontarians and urged the progressive Conservative legislator Amanda Simard to leave the party's leadership and sit as independent.
Joly said that the federal government action plan for official languages 2018-2023 could provide funding for a French university, but this would depend on the province requesting it and at least 50% of the total cost.
"Let's be clear, the responsibility for implementing this project is the government of Ontario," said Joly.
Fullerton said that, by giving money to the center, the federal government recognized its inadequate funding for the francophone on Ontario.
"We are happy to see that our message finally comes to Trudeau's government," she said. "This funding is a step in the right direction and we will continue to work for the federal government to bridge the gap between Ontario and other provinces to finance the Francophones."
The French Center for Knowledge and Innovation could not comment immediately.
NAP legislator France Gelin urged Tory government to restore school funding. Federal money does not mean that the Francophone University will be sustainable in the long term, she said in a statement.
"It is almost clear that (Prime Minister) Doug Ford has stopped university opening doors for students in 2020 – damaging dreams and affecting the future of thousands of Ontario students," she said.