QCGN Welcomes Promises of New Investments in Official Language Programming

Montreal – February 27, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes today’s federal budget that will add $400 million in new funding over five years to support official language programs critical to the vitality of English-speaking Quebec.

“English-speaking Quebecers have reason to be optimistic about the hints dropped in this budget concerning the upcoming federal Action Plan for Official Languages,” said QCGN President James Shea, adding there is good news for our community’s arts, culture, and heritage sectors and our minority language newspapers.

“We now await details of the Action Plan for Official Languages to find out how the governments of Canada and Quebec can work together to fulfill these promises.”

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s third federal budget announced money for improved access to services for English-speaking communities in Quebec in their official language, and funding for French and English-language minority community radio stations and newspapers. Also in this budget is new money for cultural, artistic and heritage activities, including community theatre, art workshops, and activities showcasing local heritage or history.

Morneau also announced an interactive application to make it easy for Canadians to learn English or French as a second language and measures to ensure the recruitment and retention of teachers who speak French and English as a second language. Minority language schools will also receive $20 million for a variety of early learning and child care initiatives. There is also new money for community organizations to ensure they can continue to provide services for individuals in their communities, to welcome newcomers, and to foster early childhood development.

“The degree to which English-speaking Quebecers will benefit from the initiatives contained in the federal budget rests on the Government of Quebec’s willingness and commitment to ensure our communities can access them,” noted QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin Laforge, explaining that a number of federal investments reach Canadians through bilateral arrangements with the provinces. “We will work closely with the province to ensure that English-speaking Quebecers receive equitable access to initiatives in the budget related to early childhood development, employment and skills development.”

“We are very fortunate that the Government of Quebec chose this year to establish a Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers,” said QCGN Vice-president Geoffrey Chambers. “English-speaking Quebecers will only benefit from an equitable portion of the initiatives contained within this budget, with the deliberate and focused involvement of the Government of Quebec.”

Download a copy of this press release

For further information:
Rita Legault, Director of Communications and Public Relations | rita.legault@qcgn.ca
Telephone:  514-868-9044, ext. 223, cellular:  514-912-6555

CAQ Misses the Mark with Scheme to Abolish School Boards

Montreal – January 19, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network is shocked that the Coalition Avenir Québec is resurrecting a much-maligned plan to abolish school boards. We are disappointed that the CAQ would display such little knowledge or understanding of Quebec’s English-speaking community and the vast importance we place on the control and management of our minority language schools.

“Our schools are cornerstone institutions of our community, not simply institutions that provide services in English,” commented QCGN President James Shea. “Yes, the purpose of schools is to provide the best possible educational experience for our students. But our English schools have the added responsibility of preserving and promoting the unique culture of our linguistic minority community.”

“The Government of Quebec cannot unilaterally decide how our community exercises management and control of our school system,” he added. Our community made its position abundantly clear, he noted, when we fought the current government’s Bill 86: An Act to modify the organization and governance of school boards to give schools a greater say in decision-making and ensure parents’ presence within each school board’s decision-making body.

Read more

Framework of Secretariat for English-speaking Quebecers a Start

Montreal – November 24, 2017 – This is a moment that could and should inspire positive action for and from English-speaking Quebecers. The Quebec government’s freshly proposed framework for the new Secretariat Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers is but a first and very modest move in the right direction.

“This is a small albeit promising step forward to ensure that the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers are heard throughout the machinery of government, where policies and programs that impact our community are being drafted,” said James Shea, President of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

“The QCGN is pleased that the Secretariat has been provided with a sweeping mandate to establish a working relationship with sectoral, regional and provincial groups representative of English-speaking Quebecers,” said Shea. “This is essential to ensure that the concerns of our linguistic minority community are taken into consideration during the development of government policies and programs.”

There remains, however, a fundamental issue. “It is clear that the start-up budget of $1 million mentioned by Kathleen Weil, the new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, will not support this project on an adequate scale. It is far too modest to accomplish the government’s stated goals,” said Geoffrey Chambers, QCGN Vice-President and head of the group’s Government Relations Committee.

After Premier Philippe Couillard announced in June he would create a Secretariat, the QCGN mobilized a blue-ribbon panel. It consulted extensively and invested numerous hours of research to examine models from other provinces that long ago established comparable offices in support of their minority French-language communities. QCGN also looked at other Secretariats within the Government of Quebec.

What the QCGN then proposed to the Premier’s office is a Secretariat which would eventually be staffed by more than two dozen people—mostly English-speaking Quebecers who are knowledgeable about the community. This Secretariat would work in three main areas:

  • A Policy and Research Directorate, to maintain links with key ministries such as health and social services; education; culture; justice, public security, and economic development;
  • A Communications and Community Liaison Directorate, to foster links with English-speaking community organizations and media, providing a venue that would encourage all elements of the community to fully contribute to public discussions and consultation; and
  • A Community Development Directorate, to work in partnership with community organizations to develop and coordinate a policy framework and action plan to enhance the vitality of English-speaking Quebec.

“To be comparable to the operational structures granted for other Secretariats addressing similar mandates our proposal would require significantly more funding than what was cited,” said Chambers. “We had sincerely hoped and expected to see something substantially closer to that vision today.”

“We anticipate this new Secretariat will be robust and capable and that it will be able to withstand the test of any change in government,” he said, expressing the hope that further staff to be hired in the coming months will largely come from the English-speaking community: “It’s about ‘le par et pour’ as the French minorities outside Quebec are fond of saying.”

“It is significant that Coalition Action Québec leader François Legault has staked out a position that his party opposes any increase in the presence of English-speaking Quebecers in the civil service, calling it a bureaucratic response.” Chambers said. “We need to be involved when policy is developed, not considered as an afterthought when it is implemented.”

“Our new Secretariat must work within the complex and multi-layered administration of Quebec to ensure we have full and fair access to all of the tools to participate fully in the province’s social, political, economic and cultural development,” he added. “This will require positive measures and an appropriate government investment to ensure the community’s capacity to represent itself in the public space.”

“This new Secretariat will provide a vital mechanism to channel serious and sorely needed policy input from across our community,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. The QCGN, she noted, welcomes the nomination of William Floch, who will be leading the Secretariat: “Bill has a long association with English-speaking Quebec and he has been a dedicated and enthusiastic supporter of our community. His years of experience at the federal department of Canadian Heritage have given Floch deep knowledge of our community and its challenges. We very much hope he can bring that experience to a new environment in the Quebec civil service and be an effective advocate and agent for the development of a strong Secretariat.

“Our goals and those of the government are in full harmony,” QCGN president Shea concluded. “We expect Minister Weil, and her staff at the Secretariat, will work in close partnership with our community leaders to develop wide-ranging, results-oriented and above all pragmatic action plans that can be implemented effectively. We need mechanisms to provide concrete measures ensuring English-speaking Quebecers can obtain the programs and services they require to be full-fledged participants in all dimensions of the day-to-day life of our province.”

Download a copy of our press release in PDF

Community Leaders Ready to Assist Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers

Montreal – November 6, 2017 – Kathleen Weil, the new Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, expressed her commitment to making a difference for the province’s minority community and the Quebec Community Groups Network stands ready to work with her.

To engage with the English-speaking community, the provincial government must make investments in policy capacity in key sectors and regions, the QCGN told the minister as she sat down this morning with a delegation of 14 community leaders to discuss her new role.

“Since 2013, the QCGN has advocated for the establishment of a formal mechanism within the Government of Quebec that our minority community could work with to improve our vitality for the benefit of all Quebecers,” commented QCGN President James Shea, remarking that the QCGN is pleased that Premier Philippe Couillard has named Weil and tasked her with creating a Secretariat.

“Quebec now joins all other Canadian provinces and territories in creating a well-structured, and credible organization, resourced to make a difference in its linguistic minority community,” Shea told Minister Weil, noting that the QCGN expects “a robust and capable Secretariat that will withstand the test of changing governments.”

QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers, who heads the QCGN’s Government Relations Committee, said its vital that the new minister find ways of expanding government services in English to our community.  He said that QCGN anticipates that Minister Weil and her Secretariat will develop a plan – in partnership with the community – “that will leverage all institutions of the provincial government to realizing the full potential of English-speaking Quebecers.”

“We have been complaining for years about lack of representation in the public service of Quebec which has resulted in a lack of input from and sensitivity to our community in government policy development,” said Eric Maldoff, who sits on the QCGN Board and Government Relations Committee. “We now have a first in a lifetime opportunity to have meaningful participation in the Quebec public service which must not be squandered.”

QCGN Welcomes Nomination of Kathleen Weil as Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers

Montreal – October 11, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network is very pleased that Kathleen Weil has been named Minister Responsible for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers. She will be leading the charge to create a Secretariat that will respond to the policy and program needs of Quebec’s English-speaking community.

“She is an experienced and capable minister who will be strong advocate for our community with her cabinet colleagues,” said QCGN President James Shea, noting that he is satisfied that Premier Philippe Couillard has opened a meaningful channel for the community to interact with the provincial government. “This is an indication that the Premier is listening to us and our concerns.”

“It’s important for our community to have someone that we can talk to who really understands the needs and priorities of our community,” commented Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers, adding that the QCGN has an excellent relationship with Weil. “We all face serious policy issues in a wide range of areas, including health, education, employment, youth, as well as regional challenges. Having a minister directly responsible for the community, and a Secretariat to back them up, will allow the government to avoid making mistakes of the past in areas like health and education reforms.”

“Our community has been asking for an interlocutor in government for many years,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge, noting the Secretariat will be an important mechanism to get serious and sorely needed policy input from our community. “Minister Weil bring with her deep knowledge of the community and she will be able to get right to work.”

Download a copy of the press release

Five Inspiring Community Leaders to be Honoured by QCGN

MONTREAL, September 20, 2017 – Remarkable members of the English-speaking community will be honoured in late October for their singular contributions and outstanding community leadership, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) announced Wednesday. Clifford Lincoln, Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle, as well as James Carter have been named winners of QCGN’s ninth annual Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award. In addition, Claudia Di Iorio has been chosen for the third annual Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

“In their individual ways, and in far different fields of endeavour, our Community Award winners have proven to be extraordinary leaders who have made exceptional contributions to our Community of Communities,” QCGN President James Shea said. “All have been visionaries, dedicated to their communities and their causes. They not only inspire social change—they embody it through their actions and their commitment.”

A passionate and principled advocate for fairness, Clifford Lincoln is a bridge-builder and a consensus maker. He has been an instrumental and inspiring leader, within the ranks of the provincial cabinet, in the House of Commons and far beyond. Driven by his unerring sense of justice, and adept at balancing the needs and aspirations of differing communities, he has made and continues to make a real and lasting difference in such areas as English-language rights; the environment; education; public transit; health and social services; and the rights of the intellectually handicapped.

Since the tender ages of 13 and 9, co-awardees Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle have nurtured, built and led Sun Youth Organization. This unique Montreal community group has, since 1954, developed street-level programs to meet an array of serious and often underserved community needs. These range from sports activities and summer camp for at-risk and other youth to a year-round food bank and other significant support work. The best testimony to this group’s effectiveness is the number of individuals who return to Sun Youth as adult volunteers, to give back of themselves after having received a Sun Youth helping hand during their own youth.

James Carter has been a tireless and exceptionally effective advocate for improved access to health and social services in English. He remains a community pillar, thanks to the determination, vision and negotiating skills he honed over the years. His patience has also proven a hallmark; as a result, his long-term mentoring has exerted quiet, positive influence through English-speaking communities right across Quebec. He strategically harnesses the talent and dedication of individuals within diverse community organizations. With steady guidance, he quietly empowers many to successfully tackle and succeed at leadership roles.

Claudia Di Iorio is a brilliant, resilient and courageous young woman who overcame adversity to become a highly visible and influential proponent for safe driving. Beginning in 2010, during the summer of her 16th birthday, she battled back from devastating injuries caused by an impaired driver. A spokesperson for the Cool Taxi coupon initiative since 2012, she participates in numerous school presentations, documentaries and media interviews and also speaks for the Fondation Neuro-Trauma Marie-Robert. Recognizing her extraordinary road-safety advocacy and inspirational influence, the Quebec government nominated her to the Board of Directors of Quebec’s automobile insurance board, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). She thus became the youngest member in Quebec history of the board of directors of a crown corporation.

The Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award honours individuals who have gone above and beyond in contributing to the vitality and reputation of the English-speaking community and who have built bridges of understanding between Quebecers of different backgrounds. The Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award was created in 2015 by QCGN, the Fondation Notre Home Foundation and CBC Quebec to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of English-speaking Quebecers under the age of 30.

Winners have been invited to receive their awards at a community celebration taking place Thursday, October 26, 2017, at Montreal’s prestigious St-James Club. Co-sponsored by the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, the evening will be emceed by CTV Montreal lead anchor Mutsumi Takahashi, who was recently honoured with a Radio Television and Digital News Association (RTDNA Canada) lifetime achievement award for more than three decades of journalistic excellence. Details and tickets at http://qcgn.ca/community-awards/

Download a copy of the press release

QCGN Congratulates New MUHC Board and Pledges its Support

Montreal – September 18, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network welcomes the appointment of a new Board of Directors at the McGill University Health Centre. We strongly hope that this will allow the resolution once and for all of systemic issues and the ongoing standoff between one of our most important institutions and the Quebec government.

“We congratulate Peter Kruyt and the other members of the new MUHC board who have taken on this formidable task. We look forward to helping and supporting them in dealing with the major challenges facing the MUHC,” said QCGN President James Shea. “Quebec’s English-speaking community counts on the new board and Health Minister Gaétan Barrette to provide the MUHC with all the tools it needs to thrive and continue to serve all Quebecers with the high level of specialized and super-specialized care they require.”

“For many months now, the QCGN has been concerned about the deteriorating situation at the MUHC and the inability of its leaders to come to a workable arrangement, along the same lines many other institutions which had been facing tough negotiations with Health Minister Barrette and his ministry officials,” said QCGN Vice-President Geoffrey Chambers. “But we remain troubled that the process to name the new board does not appear to have included input from members of the community who have in-depth knowledge of the community and of our health and social services network.”

Following July’s unexpected mass resignation of independent MUHC board members, the QCGN expressed strong expectations that successor board members would be selected on the basis of strong community involvement, coupled with a profound understanding of and familiarity with the operational characteristics of Quebec’s health and social-services system.

“Over the last two months, the eight-member search committee did not reach out to the QCGN, to the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) or to patient groups and others. Consequently, the new board is an impressive group of people with experience in business and finance. However, we know little of their experience with Quebec’s health and social services and our community structures. “This,” he emphasized, “bodes ill for the long-term connection of these institutions and the community.”

“When Bill 10 was introduced and passed two years ago, QCGN was deeply concerned with the drastic reduction in the number of institutions and governing boards,” said Shea. “We were even more worried about the powers it conferred on the Minister to directly appoint those leading the mega-merged health care consortiums that are managing the many hospitals and social service centres that were created and, for decades, supported by our community.”

Chambers added that the search for candidates was too narrow. From the QCGN’s perspective, the final board does not reflect the full range of skills needed or the necessary understanding of the community and its needs. “These are all financial and pharmaceutical folks with no broad sense of how health and social services really work in and for our communities. But these are all good people and the community will provide all possible support.”

Download a copy of the press release

QCGN mourns the loss of Gretta Chambers, une Grande Dame of Quebec

“A funeral service will be held at 11 o’clock on Saturday, the 16th of September at Saint Léon de Westmount. In lieu of flowers, donations to Centraide would be gratefully appreciated http://bit.ly/GiveGretta”

Montreal – September 9, 2017 – The Quebec Community Groups Network is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of community leader and trailblazer Gretta Chambers. She died Saturday morning, at the venerable age of 90.

“Her contributions to Quebec were nothing short of outstanding,” said QCGN President James Shea. The insights Mrs. Chambers provided during more than four decades as a social commentator for The Gazette and the CBC, from the mid-sixties to the early 2000s, helped shape the province’s understanding of itself during some turbulent times. “As a journalist, she explained French-speaking Quebec to English-speaking Quebecers and Canadians,” Shea noted. “In so doing, she became an important bridge builder between Quebec’s Two Solitudes.”

“I just always felt the importance of explaining, English and French, one to the other, of who we were,” Mrs. Chambers said in an interview upon winning the QCGN’s Distinguished Community Service Award in 2012.

“Gretta Chambers was une ‘Grande Dame’ of Quebec,” said QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. “She was a force of nature, blazing trails wherever she went. Chambers was the first female chancellor of a major university in Quebec (McGill) and the author of a seminal report on English education in Quebec that led to the creation of the Advisory Board on English Education, of which she was named the first chair. Many of the recommendations brought forward in her report, which aimed to preserve the vitality of English-language school boards, remain relevant today.”

“She was a woman with influence, vision and power, and a role model for me and many of my contemporaries,” added Martin-Laforge. “She was feisty and did not take no easily for an answer.”

Mrs. Chambers and her late husband, Egan Chambers, a former MP, were models of leadership in many circles, including family. Their son, Geoffrey, is vice-president of the QCGN.

“The QCGN wishes to extend its deepest sympathies to Geoffrey as well as to the rest of the Chambers family and many friends,” said Shea. The style, grace and verve which Mrs. Chambers exemplified, he added, will very much be missed.


The Quebec Community Groups Network is a not-for-profit organization bringing together 53 English-language community organizations across Quebec. As a centre of evidence-based expertise and collective action it identifies, explores and addresses strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of the English-speaking community of Quebec and encourages dialogue and collaboration among its member organizations, individuals, community groups, institutions and leaders.

For further information:
Rita Legault, Director of Communications and Public Relations | rita.legault@qcgn.ca
Telephone: 514-868-9044, ext. 223, cellular: 514-912-6555

Bishop’s University Hosting Civic Leadership Institute for Quebec’s English-speaking Youth

Sherbrooke – August 10, 2017 – Next week, between August 13 and 18, Bishop’s University will host 50 young leaders at the inaugural Bishop’s Forum – a week-long conference where young English-speaking Quebecers will engage in discussions about Quebec society.

“The Bishop’s Forum aims to give young English-speaking Quebecers an enhanced understanding of how Quebec society functions and greater insight into some of the key challenges we face,” said Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom. “Our hope is that this conference will help equip the participants to be engaged citizens who will choose to make their lives here in Quebec.”

Read more

Community looks forward to MUHC resolution

Montreal, July 10, 2017 – The crisis in governance and leadership at the McGill University Health Centre has moved a substantial step closer to being resolved following today’s mass resignation of independent board members, said the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN).

“Each of these board members deserves to be commended for having done the right thing,” said QCGN Vice-president Geoffrey Chambers. “The English-speaking community acknowledges the sincere effort and hard work that each has given during their Board service. They have earned our respect and our thanks, in equal measure.”

Read more