Fundamental Freedoms - The Charter of Rights and Freedoms
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Minority Language Educational Rights
Access to French and English education

What it Means

People have the right to be educated in one of Canada's official languages. Section 23 speaks about the right of the English or French-speaking minority in a province or territory to have their children educated in the minority language.

In all provinces and territories where there are more English than French-speaking people, Canadian citizens have the right to have their children educated in French if one of the three situations applies:

  • the first language of the parents is French
  • the parents had their primary education in Canada in French, or
  • the parents have a child who has received or is receiving his or her education in French in Canada.

In Quebec, where there are more French than English-speaking people, Canadian citizens have the right to have children educated in English if:

  • the parents had their primary education in Canada in English, or
  • the parents have a child who has received or is receiving his or her education in French in Canada.

Under section 59 of the Constitution Act, parents in Quebec do not have the right to have children receive their education in English just because their own first language was English, until the provincial government of Quebec allows this.

People in the English or French-speaking minority have the right to publicly-funded education in the minority language only if there are enough students to justify it. If there are enough students, the government must provide school facilities.

D'alton McCarthy, 1889. Let us deal with the dual languages of the North-West. In the Local House let us deal with the teaching of French in the schools.  When these two matters are settled, we will have accomplished something, and we may be able to do something better in the future.
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