Letter to Education Minister Sébastien Proulx

Dear Education Minister Sébastien Proulx,

On behalf of English-speaking Quebecers, the Board of Directors of the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) and our Education Working Group, I wish to express our sincere thanks to you and your officials on the new taxation regime that you have decided to implement to govern school board financing. The QCGN also extends its unequivocal public congratulations.

This area had long been one where vexing and well-recognized systemic inequities had been deeply entrenched, to the profound detriment of the English-speaking community and damaging to our community’s development as well as to our ability to fully contribute to Quebec’s future.

Countless parents who have a right to send their children to minority-language schools have long been deterred by an inequitable financial burden, the much higher school tax rates long differentiating most English and French boards off the Island of Montreal.

It is to the credit of your government that you have now taken this matter in hand and moved forward to eliminate this barrier. Your efforts will resolve an important policy priority for our community. While we have yet to complete our analysis of all of the details, we are pleased that this new approach provides a solution that will prove equitable.

It is an important principle entrenched in the Constitution, and expressed in decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence, that our school boards are a key structure and a fundamental building block of our communities. You have now carried out an exercise in basic fairness, taking this positive step toward ensuring that Quebec’s constitutional duty toward minority language educational right holders is more fully respected. From our standpoint, Bill 166 presents a practical way to resolve issues raised by the Supreme Court, with its Rose des vents v. British Columbia decision in 2015 which determined that right-holding parents cannot be discouraged from enrolling their children in minority-language schools because of comparative differences.

We now hope that the government continues to take measures to ensure that English- and French-language schools across Quebec are provided with high quality and equitable resources. This would enable our minority-language schools to provide an educational experience of similar quality to that offered by majority-language schools. Specific areas where improvements are required include: physical facilities; quality and breadth of instruction; access to specialists such as speech pathologists and autism professionals; availability and provision of extracurricular activities; and equitable treatment regarding travel times.

We appreciate that balancing the demands placed on government is challenging, and so believe it fair that on occasions when public praise is deeply merited –occasions such as this –that an appropriate level of attention, respect and recognition is given to the leadership and vision that has empowered such a positive step forward for our English-speaking community.

Simultaneously, we take this opportunity to offer to you and your colleagues our best possible wishes for the New Year.

Yours sincerely,

James Shea,

Geoffrey Chambers,
QCGN Education Working Group

Gerald Cutting,
QCGN Education Working Group

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