Supreme Court sides with B.C.’s francophone school board over education rights

The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with British Columbia’s francophone school board — at least in part — in a dispute over French-language education in the province.

OTTAWA—A Supreme Court of Canada decision delivered Friday is “good news” for minority-language communities across the country who feel shortchanged on services, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

The high court sided with British Columbia’s francophone school board, at least in part, in a dispute over French-language education in the province, saying lower courts interpreted constitutional protections too narrowly.

“We now hope that the provincial governments will step up further in areas that are their exclusive jurisdictions, like education and certain services for minority-language communities,” Trudeau said Friday at his daily media briefing.

The court case began years ago when the board, Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, and the parents of students alleged the province had breached a Charter of Rights and Freedoms provision guaranteeing minority-language education.

They sought orders requiring the province to change how it funds French-language education, immediately fix problems with inadequate facilities in a number of communities and offer compensation for its failure to provide proper funding.

After a long trial, the school board and parents won a partial victory, including an award for charter damages arising from unpaid transportation costs.

However, they appealed the ruling on various points, but mainly the conclusion they were not entitled to millions of dollars in educational capital projects they had requested.

The B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed the challenge and allowed the province’s cross-appeal, saying the trial judge should not have awarded the transportation costs given the traditional principle of government immunity.

SOURCE

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Canada Supreme Court orders British Columbia to pay French-language school board $7.1 million

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