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

Last Updated Jun 12, 2020 at 10:10 am PDT

Clouds pass by the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Friday June 12, 2020. The court is set to release a ruling on francophone education issues.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Supreme Court of Canada sides with B.C.'s francophone school board in case involving French-language education rights

Years ago, board, parents claimed B.C. had breached a charter provision guaranteeing minority-language education

OTTAWA — 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.

The 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 provide 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 the approximately $300 million 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.