Anglophone school boards say Bill 96 would go too far in limiting enrollment

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“If that doesn’t affect our institutions, I don’t know what it is,” said the director general of the Association of Anglophone School Boards of Quebec, Russell Copeman.

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QUEBEC – Proposed new restrictions on English school eligibility could hamper enrollment in the English-speaking system and deter foreign nationals from settling in Quebec, the committee examining the bill said on Thursday 96.

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But Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the French language, has said he is determined to plug what he sees as a hole in the charter of the French language that makes it too easy for non-Canadians to escape the obligation to send their children to a French school. school in Quebec.

Bill 96 proposes to amend the Charter of the French language to specify that certificates of studies in English for dependent children of foreign nationals temporarily residing in Quebec will only apply for three years.

Under the current system, certificates can be renewed as long as the parent’s status does not change. Four categories of temporary residents are covered: foreign nationals, Canadian citizens here to work or study, nationals stationed here as representatives of a foreign country or of an international organization and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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The amendment would not affect people in the last three categories.

But in a 16-page brief submitted to the committee Thursday, the Association of Anglophone School Boards of Quebec called on the government to remove the clause altogether because of the potential effects on already declining enrollment in the English school system.

It would also hurt Quebec’s ability to court foreign talent, the association said.

ACSAQ gave concrete examples of the benefits of the existing system, noting that in the past many general managers of Reynolds Aluminum (now Alcoa) were Americans who made a commitment to work and live in the region because they could send their children to an English school.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris spent five years in Quebec and graduated from Westmount High School when her mother accepted a teaching and research position at McGill.

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Appearing before the committee to present his brief, QESBA Executive Director Russell Copeman and President Dan Lamoureux said that given the relatively small number of people using foreign certificates, clause in Bill 96 appears to be ” a solution in search of a problem ”.

Last year, the total number of students in English public schools with temporary certificates was 4,108. Of that number, 926 were members of the Canadian Armed Forces and, by definition, were not foreign nationals.

Copeman said that means the actual total is 3,182, which would represent 0.33% of total enrollment in Quebec schools in 2020-2021, or 963,000 students.

He said the QESBA has filed an access to information request with the Minister of Education to find out the current data and whether this is a real problem, but has not received a response. .

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According to Copeman, contrary to the Legault government’s line that Bill 96 will in no way affect the rights and services of the English-speaking community, the bill in fact does.

“This will limit our registrations,” he said. “If it doesn’t affect our institutions, I don’t know what it is.

Jolin-Barrette, however, insisted that the loophole in the law is real and goes against Quebec’s philosophy that immigrants should attend French schools and integrate into Quebec society. As a result, temporary residents who eventually became Canadian citizens were able to acquire the right for their children and grandchildren to attend English schools.

“If it’s a contradiction, it’s a contradiction that has existed since the inception of the charter,” Copeman said.

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“So, if there is a contradiction,” asked Jolin-Barrette, “should we perpetuate this hole in the Charter of the French language?”

“So a few thousand people are going to upset the linguistic balance of Quebec? Copeman replied. “I can’t agree.”

But Jolin-Barrette took issue with Copeman’s claim that the English school system is capable of producing graduates fluent in French.

He quoted Bernard Tremblay, president of the Fédération des cégeps, who said recently: “I have testimonies from directors of anglophone CEGEPs who tell me that the quality of the French of the anglophones who have attended the English system is atrocious.

Copeman responded by asking why, if so, the ministry exempts English graduates from having to take a language test to be admitted to their professional field.

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The QESA did not get many answers to other questions raised in its brief, such as the government’s decision to use the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to protect Bill 96 from legal challenges.

Hearings resume Tuesday with an appearance by the Quebec Community Groups Network, which recently held parallel hearings on Bill 96 featuring groups that had not been invited to the official hearings.

pauthier@postmedia.com

twitter.com/philipauthier

  1. Hearings on Bill 96: the pioneer of the Quiet Revolution tears up the plan of the CAQ cegeps

  2. Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister responsible for the French language, speaks at the start of a legislative committee studying Bill 96, Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in Quebec City.

    The language law must not be “moderate and reasonable”, declares Louise Beaudoin during the hearings on Bill 96

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