Ontario Supporting Italian Language Education in York Region

Investment will help students retain Italian culture while improving opportunities in the job market

“Ontario’s commitment to supporting Italian Language Education in York Region is a testament to our diverse and inclusive province. Multilingualism is an ability found in over half of our population in York Region, which stands as a gateway to a brighter future and connects us to new cultures in our increasingly interconnected communities.”

– Hon. Michael Parsa, MPP for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill

VAUGHAN — The Ontario government is investing $350,000 to support the Italian language program for elementary school students at the York Catholic District School Board in the 2023-24 school year.

According to recent data from Statistics Canada in 2021, a staggering 145,695 York Region residents are of Italian ethnic and cultural origin. Additionally, a substantial 60 per cent of residents in York Region are multilingual. This underlines the critical importance of preserving the Italian Language Program, particularly in light of the removal of the longstanding contribution from the Centro Scuola. This significant funding will effectively bridge the gap, ensuring the sustained existence of the program for this school year.

“For generations, Italian Canadians worked hard to build our country,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education and MPP for King—Vaughan. “I made a commitment to never forget the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents, and to honour our heritage. That is why, as the son of immigrants, I am proud to be delivering funding that will protect Italian language education for children in King-Vaughan and across York Region. It is our government that is investing to ensure children learn Italian language, so the next generation of ‘Italo-Canadians’ can preserve our rich linguistic and cultural history.” 

The International Language Extended Day Italian Program is currently offered at 21 elementary schools in the York Catholic District School Board with 6,000 students who participate in the program. Through an extended school day, students at these schools have an opportunity to learn the Italian language and about Italian culture. This program has been offered in the school board since the early 1980s.The program also has partnerships with the International Contemporary Film Festival (ICFF) and the International Languages Educators’ Association which allows students to connect with the community.

“Helping Ontarians of all backgrounds connect to their cultures, traditions, and languages is one of the most important things we can do to promote mental wellness,” said Michael Tibollo, MPP for Vaughan – Woodbridge. “Providing children in our community the opportunity to learn Italian in school will help strengthen the bonds between generations and allow everyone in York Region to experience this beautiful language.”

This comes as a much needed and warmly welcomed initiative by both York Catholic District School Board and the Italian community, ensuring the continued strength of Italian language education in the region.

School boards across the province that offer elementary international and Indigenous language programs receive annual funding from the Ministry of Education. In 2023-24, through the International and Indigenous Languages, Elementary Allocation, the York Catholic District School Board is projected to receive $1.8 million. This funding could be used to support the school board’s International Language Extended Day Program.

Third-language programs offer students an enriching cultural experience and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. These types of programs offer students valuable skills, increasing career mobility and promoting successful participation in an increasingly global workforce.

Ontario is committed to helping students gain the skills they need to succeed both inside and outside the classroom.

▪ This investment in the International Language Extended Day Italian Program is being funded
through the province’s Priorities and Partnerships Fund, which focuses on learning and wellbeing to support students for success now and in the future. This funding is in addition to the
annual International and Indigenous Languages Allocation (ILLE) the school board receives
through Grants for Students Needs.
▪ As per York Region’s 2021 Census Release Report, Italian is among the top three non-official
languages spoken at home in Vaughan and King.


“I want to thank the Ministry of Education for supporting the International Language Extended Day Program that is treasured by so many students, staff and families in York Region. This additional language instruction is just one of the ways that the York Catholic District School Board provides our students with an excellent education.”

– Frank Alexander, Chair of the Board, York Catholic District School Board

“The International Language Extended Day Program enhances the learning of 6,000 elementary students in 21 schools. Studies have demonstrated that studying another language greatly enhances learning across the curriculum. Students from all backgrounds will benefit from exposure to a third language and another culture as part of their usual school day.”

– Anthony Arcadi, Superintendent of Education, York Catholic District School Board

“In Ontario, we stand proudly in support of Italian Language Education, a true celebration of our cultural diversity. This investment in the language program reflects our government’s dedication to preserving heritage, promoting a global perspective, and fostering a stronger, more diverse York Region that empowers every student’s success.”

– Hon. Paul Calandra, MPP for Markham-Stouffville

“Multiculturalism is the cornerstone of Ontario and language skills are a critical element of our education system for students to thrive in their personal and professional development. Our government’s investment in the International Language Extended Day Italian Program will expand our student’s cultural experience and language skills in an increasingly competitive environment.”

– Dawn Gallagher Murphy, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora

“I am delighted about this investment for elementary students at the York Catholic District School Board, which enhances our students’ futures in an increasingly globalized world. Learning a second language empowers students by increasing their competitiveness in the job market and opens doors of opportunity for their future careers.”

– Billy Pang, MPP for Markham—Unionville

“Learning another language can have many long-term educational benefits for students. I’m proud of our government for continuing to support the cultural mosaic of our communities here in Ontario, and introducing this language program which will help local students gain a deeper understanding of Ontario’s multiculturalism and heritage.”

– Laura Smith, MPP for Thornhill

“This funding is a testament to our commitment to promoting and preserving the Italian language and culture in our community. By supporting these language programs, we are not only enriching the educational experiences of our students but also celebrating the cultural diversity that makes our province so vibrant. I believe that this investment will contribute to a stronger, more connected community in York Region and prepare our students for success in our diverse province.”

– Daisy Wai, MPP for Richmond Hill


School participating in Italian language program in York Catholic District School Board

Education Funding for 2023-24