“Too much stick, not enough carrot”: Panelists express concerns about Bill 96

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) explored Bill 96 from all angles at a webinar on the evening of Jan. 20.

The wide-ranging, controversial legislation was first tabled in May 2021. Although it technically died on the order paper when Premier François Legault prorogued the National Assembly in October, the government has asserted its intention to pass it this year.

At the Jan. 20 panel, former senator Joan Fraser, former senator and journalist André Pratte, and independent journalist Christopher Curtis of The Rover, shared their reflections on the proposed legislation.

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Community Group Says Bill 96 Limits the Rights of Anglophones

In an open letter written by Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) to Premier Legault, QCGN states that the government definition of “English Eligible” is limiting and minority groups, under international norms, should define themselves. The current definition of English Eligible excludes between 300,000 and 500,000 English-speaking Quebecers, making the category far from inclusive and limiting the access to government services in English.

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Health access committee reform concerns advocates

A regulation changing the composition of the Provincial Access Committee (PAC), the review body which oversees programs developed by regional health authorities to ensure access to English-language health services, was quietly adopted in late December.

“It’s difficult to see the effect of this reform on the care provided to individuals, but it doesn’t make it easier,” says  Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the QCGN.

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English-speaking Quebecers concerned government will limit health services

Questions are being raised about whether Quebec will reduce health services in English.

The government has insisted on several occasions this is not its intention, but last month, it dissolved a committee that had spent years working to improve access to English services.

“It was a surprise that the minister was changing the rules of what we thought was a perfectly good committee, working very well,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge with the Quebec Community Groups Network.

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Health ministry seeks new English access committee members after firing the last ones

The Provincial Government has issued a call for expressions of interest and applications to be on the Provincial committee on the dispensing of health and social services in the English language after having dismissed the entirety of the previous committee through a regulation change in the latter half of 2021.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) first sounded the alarm about the dismissal of the previous committee members in late August, describing the change as ‘robbery through legislation.’

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COVID-19: Some Quebec high school students falling through rapid testing cracks

Parents and students in Quebec are preparing to head back to school in one week amid a wave of Omicron cases.

Adding to that stress, some parents of 12- and 13 year-old students say that, when it comes to the distribution of rapid test kits, they’ve fallen through the cracks.

“I feel like what’s happened since mid-December to now is like a raging inferno and it’s just adding more fuel to the fire unnecessarily, creating more stress unnecessarily,” said Katherine Korakakis, the president of the English Parents Committee Association (EPCA).

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Le monde des affaires sur ses gardes

Many continue to speak out against Quebec’s Bill 96, including businesspeople, community organizations, and politicians.

English-speaking Quebecers fear that the bill would further marginalize their community, and that other minority groups, such as immigrants and Indigenous peoples, will also be penalized by various measures in the bill, says Sylvia Martin-Laforge, the QCGN’s director general.

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Tutoring services getting ready to support students for another round of online learning

Requests for tutoring services since the beginning of the pandemic have spiked, and the people at Phelps Helps in the Eastern Townships are getting ready to support students in this latest period of distance learning.

Katie Lowry, programs director at Phelps Helps, discusses the uptick in an interview with CBC Breakaway’s Kim Garritty. 

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Alexander Reford nommé Membre de l’Ordre du Canada

Alexander Reford, manager of the internationally renowned Reford Gardens (Jardins de Métis)  and president of Heritage Lower St-Lawrence has been named a Member of the Order of Canada. 

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Quebec accused of launching ‘culture war’ on English with strict French language law

The Daily Telegraph reports: “[Quebec’s] ruling nationalist party, Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) says tough measures are ‘urgently required’ for the survival of the French language… but critics say it will penalise bilingualism.”

“It’s nothing against English Quebecers,” says Premier François Legault: “It’s about protecting French.”

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