Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli says contrary to claims from six Ontario Liberal MPs, the Ford government is not cutting French-language rights and services.
The MPs raised their concerns following Fedeli’s release last week of the provincial government’s fall economic statement.
The statement refers to the cancellation of a planned Francophone university and the elimination of the French-language services Commissioner.
Fedeli says the federal Liberals, who include Anthony Rota of Nipissing-Timiskaming, and Nickel Belt’s Marc Serre, are wrong on both counts.
On the issue of the university, Fedeli says the Progressive Conservative government is cancelling four planned university expansions which include the proposed Francophone university.
However, Fedeli, who is also the Finance minister, blames the former Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne for the cancellations.
“This is all because the provincial Liberals left a $15-billion deficit,” Fedeli said.
“This is the unfortunate consequence of Liberal negligence for 15 years that put public services at risk. The Liberals promised four universities without any idea how they were going to pay for them. In fact, there never was any way to pay for them.”
Fedeli says without the means to pay for the four expansions, there was no way for the Tories to move ahead with them.
As for the loss of the proposed Francophone university, Fedeli says Ontario has 10 post-secondary institutions that are 300 French-language programs in the province in addition to many online Francophone courses.
“We had to clean up the Liberal mess and had to make the tough decisions including not proceeding with the four universities,” Fedeli said.
“However, we are absolutely committed to supporting and enhancing existing French-language post-secondary education.”
As for the loss of the French-language services Commissioner, Fedeli says again this is not the case.
“The office is not being dismantled,” he said.
“It’s moving to the office of the Ombudsman or the Auditor General.”
Fedeli adds the Tories intend to make the office stronger, more empowered and more effective which he says will “increase the independent oversight”.