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QCGN obtains promises from minister at Bill 10 hearings

QUEBEC CITY – Anglophone groups say the government’s proposed healthcare reform not only threatens anglophone institutions, it eliminates them.

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) appeared before the parliamentary committee in charge of studying Bill 10 on Thursday.

They demanded the bill be changed to protect local governance.

“The QCGN, our member organizations and the many partners we have consulted over the past few weeks are profoundly worried about Bill 10,” said QCGN President Dan Lamoureux in his opening statement.

READ MORE: Two more anglophone groups invited to testify at Bill 10 hearings

After emphasizing the anglophone community’s deep worry that it will lose right of control over its health and social services, the QCGN offered this solution:

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“We think it is possible for there to be a kind of sub-regional structure comparable to the CISS without ending the juridical existence of the institutions that it manages,” said Sara Saber-Freedman, board president of the MAB-Mackay Rehab Centre.

Anglophones want to keep local boards and their legal bilingual status.

READ MORE: Quebec’s Health Minister promises ‘substantial’ changes to network

But if the government merges boards into 19 super structures, as explained in the bill, then the QCGN suggested either special powers be given to anglophone installations.

Or worst-case scenario, the group asks that the boards in downtown Montreal and the West Island retain bilingual status to guarantee access to English services.

WATCH: Voice of English-Speaking Quebec and the Townshippers’ Association address Bill 10

“That is the only clear way that we can see that the recognition that exists in the Charter of the French Language to be “reconduit” in the healthcare act,” explained Saber-Freedman.

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The Health Minister agreed to look into it.

“I am here to tell you that rights of Anglophones will be protected and the bilingual status of all institutions that do exist today will remain,” he said.

READ MORE: Could Liberal healthcare reform be a threat to English institutions?

The comments reassured QCGN Director-General, Sylvia Martin-Laforge.

“What we saw today was everybody around the table was listening. Everybody has an interest in keeping an active English-speaking community but we have to give life to this interest in terms of applications in law and in programs,” she said.

WATCH: Sylvia Martin-Laforge on Bill 10

The group invited Quebecers to sign its online petition at www.bill10.com

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“Every bill that is tabled always undergoes changes, I think people need to understand that,” said Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s Immigration Minister.

Be that as it may, members of the QCGN said they’ll believe it when they see it.

READ MORE: Union warns healthcare services are already being cut

They said if no substantial changes are made to the bill, Barrette’s reform will undo years and years of hard work building strong communities and guaranteeing English-speakers access to services in their language.

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