Premier François Legault’s alarmist attitude and actions when it comes to the protection of French has caused bridges to be burned between the Quebec government and the English-speaking community, says QCGN Director-General Sylvia Martin-Laforge. She explains that many Anglophones view various measures by the Quebec government, such as Bill 96, as a direct attack on the vitality of their communities. “We don’t want that to cause an exodus,” Martin-Laforge adds: “We must rediscover a spirit of social cohesion.”
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Sheila Goldbloom, a prominent figure within Quebec’s English-speaking community, passed away at age 96. QCGN Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge comments: “Sheila embodied civility; she was a person of integrity and honour and a particularly effective advocate. She motivated us to care more, to do more, to make a real difference in the lives [of] all English-speaking Quebecers.”
In an op-ed for the Montreal Gazette, QCGN President Eva Ludvig and Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge write that Bill C-13, the modernization of the Official Languages Act, offers “an asymmetrical approach in law toward official languages that places the future of our community at considerable risk.”
Bill 96, the provincial government’s controversial legislation aimed at protecting the French language in Quebec, has been adopted in the National Assembly.
“It’s a sad day. I think it’s a sad day for all of Quebec,” said QCGN director Sylvia Martin-Laforge.
The stereotype of Quebec Anglophones being wealthy, prosperous, and homogenous is a myth, says Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the QCGN.
As Quebec’s contentious language law heads closer to adoption, the province’s business community is growing increasingly anxious about what it could mean for their bottom line, with some companies considering leaving entirely.
As it stands, incidents of non-compliance are worked out between companies and the Office québécois de la langue française, with negotiable compliance timelines. Bill 96 would change that process.
“It upsets the environment of trust,” added Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
A report prepared by an independent provincial organization reveals a stark labour divide between Quebec Anglophones and Francophones.
The 44-page document prepared by the Provincial Employment Roundtable (PERT) illustrates Quebec’s Francophones have a higher employment level and earn more money compared to their Anglophone counterparts.
Some argue the English education system needs to do a better job in improving French language skills with English-speaking students.
”We cannot afford as a society in Quebec to be educating young people for them to go to another province,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
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.
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.
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.