Investigation underway into quality of Quebec’s French proficiency programs

Click to play video: 'Foreign students left out in the cold' Foreign students left out in the cold
WATCH: UPAC is investigating school boards that teach international students French. Some of those students are now left out in the cold because their language skills don’t meet the province’s criteria – Apr 19, 2017

The government of Quebec says they’re worried international students who want to stay in Quebec aren’t getting the education they paid for, particularly French proficiency.

Last fall, UPAC launched an investigation into both the English Montreal School Board and the Lester B. Pearson School Board.

“The Ministry, the police, and UPAC are currently investigating to make sure that the training the government is paying teachers for, is in fact being given to youth and adults,” Quebec’s Education Minister Sébastien Proulx said.

The investigation is still ongoing, but officials say they’ve learned enough to perform language tests on international students applying to stay in Quebec.

READ MORE: Immigration activists say Quebec is violating students’ rights by rejecting French proficiency certificates

The spot French tests started in November, after students had already presented their French proficiency certificates to the government program designed to help them stay in Canada.

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The government says they’ve either rejected or denied 597 students’ applications to stay in Quebec.

A spokesperson for Quebec’s Minister of Immigration said it’s because they didn’t reach the level of proficiency they claimed they did.

The Lester B. Pearson School Board wasn’t available for comment.

The English Montreal School Board said in a statement they were surprised to hear the ministers’ comments.

“We have never been advised of any problem. If there is one, we need to know the details,” Angela Mancini, commissioner of the English Montreal School Board said.

READ MORE: LBPSB teacher’s union president speaks out on school board scandals

David Chalk, an immigration lawyer representing some of those students, believes the government is acting unfairly towards them.

“As the party that decides what are the appropriate credentials, they are responsible when someone shows up with credentials that don’t meet their expectations. It’s their credentials,” Chalk said.

Fo Niemi with the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations CRAAR agrees.

Niemi believes the government rushed to act.

“They should be given the benefit of the doubt and if in doubt, perhaps suspend the application, wait until the investigation of the UPAC unit is over,” Niemi said.

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“Then you can proceed to something much more possibly, standardized, objective.”

Global News reached out to UPAC but they would not comment due to the ongoing investigation.

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