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Quebec finance minister consults with anglophones on budget

Anglophone groups within the province got a rare opportunity to consult with its finance minister before he tabled the next budget. Billy Shields/Global News

For what is being billed as a first by a Quebec government, Finance Minister Carlos Leitão met with several anglophone groups in a closed-door session at McGill University on Wednesday as part of the consultation process for the next budget.

“There are some specific needs and we are going to try to address that,” he said. “This is just addressing issues of a very important component of our society.”

McGill University’s administration building played host to a consultation between anglophone groups and the province’s finance minister. Billy Shields/Global News

Groups attending included Youth Employment Services, the English Montreal School Board and the Quebec Community Groups Network. The QCGN was particularly interested in establishing committees to serve the English hospitals in Montreal, organizations that act as access points for the English-speaking community and their hospitals.

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Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitão spoke with anglophone groups for more than two hours on Wednesday. Billy Shields/Global News

According to the QCGN, when the province passed Bill 10 in 2015, it swept away similar organizations in an effort to trim bureaucracy down. Now the QCGN is demanding the province recreate those institutions and fund them appropriately.

“You’re basically telling the English-speaking community that you have to choose between getting heart surgery or getting a notice of meetings of an advisory committee,” said Eric Maldoff of the QCGN. Maldoff said the funding accorded to hospitals is often gobbled up by clinical needs before the advisory committees get funded.

Anglophone groups within the province got a rare opportunity to consult with its finance minister before he tabled the next budget. Billy Shields/Global News

The Quebec Minister for Anglophone Affairs Kathleen Weil also participated in the talks. Specific dollar figures and hard promises were scarce at the consultations, and the media weren’t allowed inside. Leitao is slated to table the next budget sometime at the end of this month.

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