Parti Québécois applauds English Montreal School Board’s decision to defy government

QUEBEC CITY – The Parti Québécois applauded Wednesday the English Montreal School Board‘s decision to defy the Quebec government.

“We have to protect student services,” said PQ Education Critic Nicole Léger. “So yes, they’re doing the right thing.”

Tuesday night, the EMSB thumbed its nose at the Education Minister and refused to slash spending to its school success and special needs programs.

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Instead, the school board opted to run a $5.2 million deficit.

“Since 2010, $20 million has been cut from our budget from the different governments in Quebec,” said EMSB spokesperson Mike Cohen.

“That’s an awful lot of money and we don’t know what more a school board can absorb.”

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The EMSB is the second board to openly defy the Education Minister. Last week, the Commission scolaire de Montreal refused to wipe out its $29-million deficit.

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“All the school boards, all the institutions, all the organizations, all the ministries have an obligation to balance the budget, it’s urgent,” said Montreal MNA and Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.

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Education Minister Yves Bolduc told Global News he is prepared to talk it over with the EMSB, but he’s not opposed to sending in an independent auditor to check the books.

“Every school board has to respect the budget, we’re going to ask them to do the same as the other school boards,” he said.

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The EMSB insists they have nothing to hide.

“Our books are open for the government to come and check they can see how we are running our operation,” said Cohen.

“We’re doing it very efficiently, very efficiently. We don’t see where are places we can cut.”

When the PQ was in power, its solution was to invite school boards to raise taxes.

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A taxpayer revolt forced them to backtrack halfway.

The CAQ continued to argue Wednesday Quebec should simply eliminate school boards.

“It’s a mess,” the party’s education critic said. “It’s clear the minister has lost control.”

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Montreal English School Board sign. Staff/Global News