2009

The Supreme Court of Canada renders a decision on the constitutionality of the limits imposed by Quebec’s Charter of the French Language regarding access to minority language education in Quebec

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it is unconstitutional to exclude the time spent in an unsubsidized English-language private school from the determination of what constitutes a “major part” of a child’s education for the purposes of establishing eligibility for public minority language education.

In its decision, the Court presented an overview of the history of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language and explained the reasoning behind section 73, which was a response to a growing number of parents who were enrolling their children in private English-language schools for a short time in order to access the English public school system. The Court noted that section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires a qualitative assessment of the child’s educational experience and does not distinguish between the time spent in private or public school. The limitations imposed by subsections 73(2) and (3) of the Charter of the French Language were therefore found to be in violation of section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and were declared to be invalid.

The Court suspended the effect of its declaration for one year to enable Quebec’s National Assembly to review the legislation. On October 19, 2010, Quebec adopted Bill 115, which removed paragraphs (2) and (3) from section 73 and allowed the government to regulate how to determine what constitutes a “major part” of a child’s education.