‘Necessary changes’ still to be made to Quebec education reform bill: QESBA

WATCH ABOVE: Quebec education minister Sébastien Proulx scrapped the province's controversial school board reform bill after much debate. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, there is now new legislation, Bill 105, but the English school boards argue major changes are still needed before they'll support it.

When the Quebec government chose to scrap the province’s education reform legislation, Bill 86, last spring, they praised English school boards for sharing their concerns.

“We need to say to our English-speaking fellow Quebecers that the way they did things, the way they conducted their school boards and their schools is the way to go for all Quebecers,” said Premier Philippe Couillard at a Liberal Party convention in Drummondville in May.

The government has since started over on school board reform.

READ MORE: Opposition parties criticize Quebec Liberals for backtracking on education reform

The result is Bill 105, which allows school board elections to continue.

However, back in May, Education Minister Sébastien Proulx put an emphasis on increasing Quebec graduation rates, which lag behind other provinces.

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Members of the anglophone community at the national assembly Wednesday wondered where that plan is in the new legislation.

READ MORE: Premier calls for French schools in Quebec to follow English lead

“This isn’t a bill that’s talking about student success, which is of course a bit of a disappointment because we’re back to talking about governance once again,” said Jennifer Maccarone, president of the Quebec English School Board Association (QESBA).

The anglophone community expressed outrage over Bill 86 because they said it infringed on minority English rights.

READ MORE: Quebec government needs to intervene to increase graduation rate: expert

They agree Bill 105 is better, but argue that among other concerns, it still encroaches on some rights when it comes to making final budget decisions.

“They wanted to take away elected commissioners, so now they’ve kept that, but they’ve done nothing to facilitate or help these elections move forward,” said Mike Nalecz, vice-president of the English Parents Committee Associations of Quebec (EPCA).

However, some people question the English school boards motives and say QESBA just doesn’t like the fact that the government is giving more say to school principals.

“[That’s] what Bill 105 basically does, and that’s the Quebec English school boards’ biggest gripe, is that they’re losing power. That’s the whole thing,” said Chris Eustace, a retired teacher.
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WATCH BELOW: Quebec education reform

QESBA said they are optimistic the minister will listen to their suggestions to change parts of Bill 105.

“It’s a bill that we can live with, provided that there are necessary changes that are made within the articles in the content presented. As it stands, no, it will have to be modified,” said Maccarone.

“I feel things have evolved since the last time we saw each other,” Proulx told Maccarone later on during the hearing.

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“I’m very, very happy about that. You have suggestions to make and we’re going to listen and reflect on what people have to say.”

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