Facing Common Challenges for a More Vital Community 

Summary Report 

December 12020 


The Facing Common Challenges for a More Vital Community Consultation was held on December 1, 2020 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. via Zoom with 72 stakeholders in attendance. During the consultation we reviewed the primary themes and challenges identified in the first year of the Community Growth Plan before introducing our objectives for year 2.  

The first objective is to have a mobilization strategy developed by community partners working in concert. This strategy is to allow stakeholders to be represented by and contribute to the growth plan process. The second objective is to undertake with partners a community-led analysis of gaps with a focus on key sectors with impact on community vitality. By engaging partners in these activities, the QCGN intends to facilitate a dialogue that will result in a shared understanding of community vitality and a strategic community development plan by and for English-speaking Quebec. 

Breakout Sessions on Sector Gaps 

Small group discussions were framed on 11 sectors where gaps in policy impact community vitality. Sectors were chosen for discussion based on the application of the Canadian Heritage Framework for Vitality of Official Language Minority Communities, as well as for their transversal impacts across Quebec’s English-Speaking Community (ESC). Participants were asked for feedback prior to the event on additional policy gaps not included in our agenda.  

The selected themes were Arts, Culture and Heritage, Education, Employment, Health and Social Services, Immigration and Newcomers, Justice, Media Policy, Seniors, Social Development, Women and Youth. Below is a brief summary of the discussions from each breakout session, along with key themes. 


Arts, Culture Heritage 

Issues raised 

  • The resources needed to maintain heritage are lacking. Maintaining heritage requires investment in upkeep of built infrastructure and core funding is not covering these costs. 
  • Core funding is increasingly difficult to access compared to project funding. However, much of the work necessary in this sector is operational and requires core, not project funding which is either not sufficient or not earmarked for operating costs. 
  • There is a need for more connections amongst networks, across services on regional and local levels.   
  • Space is limited to hold English events in some communities (ex: One region had five venues, each one hour apart) Bill 101 restrictions further limit the space options for English-language programming. 

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Stakeholders can frame their approach around economic development and leverage infrastructure to meet their needs (for example, by converting unused buildings into creative spaces) as well as positioning the arts as a booster for local economies and an attractive element of quality of life.  
  • The QCGN can be helpful by gathering and analyzing and providing information/evidence which can be used to leverage funding and better understand implications of political landscape.  
  • Using shared-space/hybrid space models to create more space for cultural events.


Issues raised 

  • There are problems with translation with too few documents being translated on time. The government lacks the interdepartmental coordination to address this issue and instead relies on the community sector for this work.  
  • Lack of English-speaking professionals cause delays for students to receive support from psychologists in the youth sector. 
  • The ESC has a sense of being “structured out of the conversation” with the broader MEES* community with entire sectors of the Ministry not communicating with the English community “by design”.  
  • The Ministry receives federal funding for minority language education through the Canada-Quebec Entente, but is not necessarily accountable for this funding. There is a perceived lack of transparency. 
  • Training provided by the government is often only in French.  

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Opportunities for discussion and sharing information exist with the ILET (Inter-Level Education Table) which regroups several partners in the sector. 

*MEES: Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement Supérieure (Ministry of Education and Higher Education) 


Issues raised 

  • CCQ** training requirements are difficult to meet for many English speakers, in particular in the regionsWith limited options for employment, this is a barrier to the labour market. 
  • There is a perceived lack of representation at Emploi QC as funding goes to organizations such as the CJE*** which are mainly French-speaking 
  • There was a negative impact when the Skills Link program was transferred from federal to provincial jurisdiction making it more difficult for community organizations to compete for funding 
  • Policy is not being developed for rural communities. 
  • Small community organizations that are taking on the workload of employability and the community organizations are scrambling to provide services without core funding. 
  • There are perceptions that Anglophones cannot thrive in Quebec due to language legislation. 

Strategies to address challenges 

  • There is an opportunity with upcoming Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) advisory groups.  
  • We need to support more business incubation and acceleration services in regions.  
  • We need portraits of funding access.   
  • Financial incentives should be in place for businesses which contribute to vitality.  
  • We need to promote the ESC to influence policy. 

**CCQ: Commission de la Construction du Québec (Quebec Construction Commission) 

***CJE: Carrefours Jeunesse-Emploi (Youth Employment Agencies) 

Health and Social Services 

Issues raised 

  • Regional stakeholders are concerned about the lack of mental health services in their regions (notably North Shore and Lanaudière) 
  • Community organizations receiving PSOC**** funding are unable to serve the ESC, consequently English organizations end up going beyond their capacity to provide services. PSOC criteria is restrictive, English organizations that are generalists lack access. 
  • Services are also unable to refer outside of their own region.   
  • Universities in Montreal are not using regional data-notably they do not include language data on waiting lists to measure gaps in services. The portraits we receive of access are therefore incomplete. 
  • Gaps exist also with respect to placing English seniors whose language capacity is compromised by dementia but still go to French-only institutions. 
  • The CISSS***** are not checking on private “indicated” institutions (institutions with indicated status are required by law to provide certain indicated services in English). 

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Data sharing is also needed to meet a gap in evaluation caused by stakeholders working in silos 
  • More partnerships are needed between universities, health sector and community sector. 
  • Suggestion to find ways for Regional Access Committee members to share experiences  
  • Helping universities find available stage placements for students in health and social service professions. 

****PSOC: Programme de Soutien aux Organismes Communautaires (Support to Community Organizations Program) 

*****CISSS: Centres Intégrés de Santé et Services Sociaux (Integrated Health and Social Service Centres) 

Immigration and Newcomers 

Issues Raised 

  • Gaps exist in employment integration and retention, project with Université Laval is underway to address this issue.  
  • Groups serving newcomers lack core funding and instead receive project funding. It is difficult for organizations to provide continuity of care with such limited support. 
  • The primary need newcomers have is to find work, this requires addressing organizational/work culture. People don’t feel welcome, so they leave.  
  • There is a lack of consultation between government bodies and associations representing newcomers-these are the groups with firsthand knowledge of what people experience when coming to CanadaWithout their perspectives government is not able to produce effective policy. 
  • Newcomers need childcare in order to work but cannot afford it.  
  • There is a lack of empirical data to support arguments, most data remains anecdotal. Problems are not even on the “radar” of decision-makers.  

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Decision makers (example of City of Quebec) recognize the ESC as an ally to welcoming newcomers. 
  • We need to grow together, ask newcomers their perspective then build around that, rather than always expect newcomers to adapt to local realities. 


Issues raised 

  • There is a lack of services in EnglishSome materials are available in English but many issues require more than documents, you need an advocate.  
  • Many police officers in multicultural communities are White and French-speaking. This cultural barrier  
  • Canada is not seen as being “set up for newcomers, just the two settler nations. Other groups are considered second class citizens. Services must be distributed in a way that recognizes socio-economic differences.  
  • The burden of proof is with communities to demonstrate how they are impacted by the justice system, but this is a difficult question to answer and may require means or skills that members of these communities lack. As a result, we get an incomplete portrait of the impact of the justice system.  
  • Other questions concern tracking the point of entry for a person into the justice system and the challenges of tracking persons who are unable to pursue justice for varying reasons (not knowing their rights, not being familiar with services and lacking resources to pursue justice).  

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Opportunities exist with the BCRC currently studying gaps in services.  

 Media Policy 

Issues raised 

  • This group explores the concept of three pillars: Artists, Production, Community needs.  
  • We’ve lost two thirds of our production. Vitality and jobs decline and consequently talent leaves. Quebec is unable to compete with other jurisdictions.  
  • Community newspapers are essential to vitality but rely on Official Languages protection 
  • The main sources of English news in are the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Sun and Citizen, CBC and TVA. There is a lack of coverage, especially in regions. 
  • A lot of news is now moving online-this leaves behind those without internet. 

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Some newspapers have adapted by becoming bilingual.    
  • A local journalism initiative provides funding to local journalists to produce local content.  
  • More funding and subsidies are needed for community and commercial radio in order to maintain community vitality 


  • Organizations are receiving project funding rather than core funding. This makes it difficult to retain good staff. COVID emergency funding exists right now but is temporary.  
  • Organizations continue to do more with less funding, and there is confusion as to why some organizations get funding and others do not. This raises questions of whether funds are being distributed equitably or relative to the actual need 
  • Community organizations are fearful of approaching PSOC with their challenges for fear of losing funding. 
  • We feel obligated to focus on statistics and not on the “human things” that an organization can do. The government has a business way of operating, but organizations feel it should not just be about numbers. 

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Organizations need to bring their services to the attention of funders and demonstrate the value of their programs 
  • Explore less burdensome reporting requirements for smaller organizations. 

Social Development 

Issues raised 

  • Social development means improving the wellbeing of community members so they can live to their full potential. Many community members experience demoralization, particularly in workplaces 
  • Organizations face challenges in supporting ESC and advocating for them to French partners.  
  • Funding tends to be offered for new programs rather than existing ones.  

Strategies to address challenges 

  • We need to reach diverse communities, create trusting relationships and make community priorities the centre of our work.  
  • We need more collaboration and communication and less competition between groups. We have to invest time in this process so organizations have time to collaborate.  
  • We need greater representation within organizational personnel at all levels when serving marginalized or cultural communities (including Staff, Board and Volunteers) 
  • We need to value our own work and invest in salaries. One innovative way to address this is to ask government to provide subsidies to our salaries (possibly through fringe benefits like pension plan, products). We need to address cultural and language barriers.  
  • Employers in public and private sector need to see Return on investment from community sector and reduce barriers to attract and retain talent from ESC. 


Issues raised 

  • We lack a process for flagging issues that we have in other sectors, despite needs resulting from women facing issues of poverty. Policy gaps include leadership, access to jobs, Health & Social Services, Seniors, Youth, Diversity. 
  • More fundamental gap exists at a structural level as a lack of voice at federal and provincial level. There is no representative organization with mandate to advocate or develop policy for English-speaking women. 

 Strategies to address challenges 

  • As a general recommendation we need a dedicated discussion to understand who is representing and ensuring women’s unique issues are being voiced and to identify issues needing representation across other sectoral gap strategies. It is a gap not to be able to hear women talk about their specific issues. 
  • Suggestions include developing an evidence base through discussion and investing in policy development as well as mapping community resources against policy to see if we have the resources required for service access. 


Issues raised 

  • Issues facing youth include employment, addressing learning challenges. Youth are disproportionately affected in labour market by COVID-19 
  • Mental Health is a major issue, being attributed in part to Zoom fatigue.  
  • Youth are negatively affected by a lack of exposure in schools to French community. The problems can be at schoolboard level, more competition than collaboration.  

Strategies to address challenges 

  • Invest more in French classes. 
  • Challenges often at schoolboard level which have a mentality focused more on competition than collaboration. Acting on this challenge can improve situation for youth. 

 Next Steps 

Discussions held on Dec. 1 revealed common gaps with impacts on community development that are transversal across sectors. As an example, our network has been aware for years of funding disparities between organizations serving minority language communities in Quebec and organizations serving the majority language community is Quebec as well as minority language communities in the rest of Canada. The Dec. 1 discussions demonstrate that one of the underlying challenges present in several sectors of activity is related to the requirements of certain government programs (notably in health and employment). 

In order to mobilize to address these challenges the community needs a stronger shared understanding of how they impact our vitality and what collective actions are necessary to obtain an effective policy response. This requires an investment in some sectors in the communitys policy capacity so we can share information and lobby more effectivelyThe next step in the Growth Plan is to explore further these dynamics through consultation and develop portraits of sector gaps as a baseline for the creation of a community strategic plan. The QCGN is proposing four questions to frame this analysis:

  • Are the unique needs of the English-speaking community properly accounted for in the legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks in this sector? 
  • Is there adequate data being used to develop and evaluate public policy in this sector? 
  • Are decision processes used to fund organizations, programs and services allowing for funds to be distributed equitably to the ESC? 
  • Is the English-speaking community effectively represented at a decision-making level in this sector? 

This work will lead to our March 16 Community Forum, where we will review the work done on the sectors, encourage dialogue on the recommendations developed with a broader base of community partners and use this process to feed our ongoing Community Growth Plan. 

Upon reviewing this summary document, we encourage you to provide any feedback or information from the discussions on December 1st that may not be reflected in these summaries.