ADVOCATING TOGETHER FOR OUR COMMUNITY
2019-2020 Annual Report
2019-2020 Annual Report
From left to right: Clarence Bayne, Eva Ludvig, Christopher Neal, Mary-Ellen Beaulieu, Geoffrey Chambers, Stella Kennedy, Eric Maldoff, Elise Moser and Chad Bean. Missing from photo: Gerald Cutting, Linton Garner, Maureen Kiely, Joe Rabinovitch and Sharleen Sullivan.
Our year on the Federal front was packed with action, with a particular focus on the modernization of the Official Languages Act. The Act serves as the sole language-rights legislation to protect the interests of English-speaking Quebecers as a community. It frames such quasi-constitutional backstops as the right to access federal services in English and representation in the federal public service, while ensuring much-needed financial underpinning for the community’s institutions and networks. To ensure this modernization will better serve the interests of English-speaking Quebec and advance official languages in the years to come, we provided testimony to the House and Senate Standing Committees on Official Languages and consulted with the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Minister responsible for Official Languages. We worked alongside our Francophone counterparts to ensure both linguistic minority communities would obtain a cohesive and desired outcome.
Some of our past work also come to fruition. In the fall, Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly and Treasury Board President Scott Brison announced new Official Languages Regulations. These will help ensure and improve the delivery of services to Canadians in the official language of their choice. The regulations had last been updated in 1991; the QCGN was pleased that the consultation process during this review culminated in greater access and inclusion for our community.
We hosted Members of Parliament and Senators at our annual Parliament Hill event in November. This invariably provides a crucial forum for QCGN Board and Network members, as well as stakeholders, to raise and discuss our community’s needs and concerns with federal representatives from the main parties including most members of the House Official Languages Committee. We zeroed in the review and modernization of the Official Languages Act and the implementation of Canada’s Action Plan for Official Languages.
In addition to connecting and consulting with three dozen departments over the year, we met with various political parties to ensure English-speaking Quebec will not be forgotten during the fall 2019 federal election.
Our work with the province this year spanned two governments – the Liberals under Philippe Couillard and the Coalition Avenir Québec under François Legault. During our interactions with both, we stressed that English-speaking Quebecers must have an equal opportunity to fully participate in and contribute to the social, cultural, economic, and political life of Quebec.
Working with members and stakeholders in the spring and summer, QCGN developed a comprehensive electoral platform for the October 2018 election. It centred on issues specific to English- speaking Quebecers as members of a minority community including employment and economic security issues confronting our community and the virtual absence of English-speaking Quebecers in the provincial civil service. The platform provides an ambitious blueprint to move our Quebec government relations strategy forward.
The campaign provided English-speaking Quebecers with a victory – the first-ever televised leaders’ debate in English. Following the election, the Coalition Avenir Québec government honoured its pledge to maintain the Secretariat for Relations with English- speaking Quebecers. However, the QCGN and other community leaders have been unsuccessful in getting it to fully adhere to its mandate. Our longstanding request to be properly consulted on substantive issues that have real consequences for English-speaking Quebecers remains largely unanswered. While QCGN had meetings with the Premier and the Minister of Justice, Canadian Relations and the Canadian Francophonie, we continue to pursue constructive meetings with other key ministers and ministry officials.
Prior to the election, our community gained a strong voice on access to health and social services with the enactment of a long-awaited regulation that ensures our community has meaningful involvement in the creation of provincial and regional access committees. Our right to health and social services in our own language depends on the creation of proper access plans that spell out the services we can access. However, getting these committees and access plans in place has been an ongoing challenge. We will persist until this finally happens.
Another top concern is education. Early in 2019, QCGN joined with education sector members and stakeholders to halt plans to abolish our school boards with the creation Alliance for the Promotion of Public English-language Education in Quebec (APPELE-Québec). Our community has the constitutional right to control and manage our schools through democratically elected school boards. We maintain that Quebec must consult with our community prior to altering the character of our English-language institutions. This is a core issue for our community.
We cherish the opportunity to recognize and honour the lasting imprints of remarkable community leaders, with our Community Awards.
For our 10th edition of Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Award, we celebrated Olga Melikoff and Murielle Parkes. More than a half-century ago, in partnership with the late Valerie Neale, they recognized that Quebec was changing and that English-language public education also needed to change to provide our next generations any chance of remaining and thriving in this province. This trio started a parent group on Montreal’s South Shore which gave birth to French Immersion. Their innovation blossomed, first across Quebec and then throughout the rest of Canada. These three helped forge linguistic duality into a defining characteristic of our nation.
We paid similar tribute to the vital, less public work of John Rae. Over many decades, he and his wife Phyllis have given tirelessly of their time, energy, experience, business acumen and financial support. Their broad philanthropy has quietly served to nurture and sustain hundreds of community organizations and individuals.
We recognized Hayley Campbell with the fourth Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award. This community dynamo’s record of accomplishment already encompasses active involvement and leadership in groups including Quebec 4-H, the Pontiac County Women’s Institute, the Shawville Fair and the Projet communautaire de Pierrefonds.
Inevitably, the march of time also brings us major losses. We grieve this year for three past Community Award winners claimed by death: Kevin Tierney, Robina Goodwin and Earl De La Perralle.