QCGN Welcomes New Budget Measures for English-speaking Quebecers

Montreal – March 27, 2018 – The Quebec Community Groups Network is pleased that the government is investing many millions toward supporting the vitality of Quebec’s English-speaking minority community.

QCGN had high expectations for today’s budget, following a first-ever pre-budget consultation with Quebec’s English-speaking community and a comment from Finance Minister Carlos Leitão following that meeting that his budget “would address some specific needs of a very important component of our society.”

Organizations representing Quebec’s English-speaking minority told Leitão that more money should go to the newly created Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers, so it can be more muscular and effective in ensuring that services to which we are entitled are delivered and that our rights are respected.

And he delivered.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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