Quebec education minister scraps Bill 86

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WATCH ABOVE: Quebec Education Minister Sebastien Proulx has decided to put Bill 86, which aims to reform the way school boards are organized, on the back burner, saying it's not a priority. Global's Sarah Volstad reports – May 13, 2016

ST. SAUVEUR — On Friday, Education Minister Sebastien Proulx confirmed that the controversial Bill 86 will be dropped.

He said the government would rather focus on bigger priorities, the main one being student success rates. Proulx added a possible constitutional challenge over Bill 86 wouldn’t be worth the time and resources.

READ MORE: Quebec education minister says he needs to ‘reflect’ on Bill 86 hearings

This means that school board elections are here to stay, at least for the time being.

“What we’ve always been preaching since the very beginning of this debate is that students need to be at the centre of this discussion, and now that’s what’s finally happening,” said Jennifer Maccarone, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board chairperson.

Proulx said the goal is to bring Quebec’s graduation rate near that of Ontario’s. That province announced a graduation rate of 85 per cent last week. To make that goal a reality, a new bill will be tabled.

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Proulx said he’s looking at compulsory schooling until the age of 18, increased resources for special needs students and a professional order for teachers.

“I think we are going to see a new bill come through that will really focus, from what the minister has said, on student success,” said Angela Mancini, chairperson for the English Montreal School Board.

“I couldn’t be more pleased.”

READ MORE: Quebec education minister won’t say if he’ll abandon Bill 86

During hearings surrounding Bill 86 earlier this year, members of the anglophone community expressed their concern that the legislation would infringe on minority English rights.

“The hearings were very clear,” said Mancini. “Probably about 98 per cent of the people that went forward spoke against Bill 86.”

“The main issue is that Bill 86 did not respond to the democratic rights of the minority community here in Quebec, nor did it allow your school boards to have the functions and controls to ensure student success,” said Maccarone.

For now, Bill 86 has been put to rest, but there is no saying whether it will be revived somewhere down the road.