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CAQ’s Christopher Skeete meets with English-speaking community leaders in Pointe-Claire

CAQ’s Christopher Skeete meets with English-speaking community leaders in Pointe-Claire
WATCH: CAQ’s Christopher Skeete meets with English-speaking community leaders in Pointe-Claire

The CAQ’s point-person for English speaking Quebecers, Christopher Skeete, met with English-speaking community leaders in Pointe-Claire’s Stewart Hall.

It’s part of a series of closed-door consultations organized by the province with the goal of taking the pulse of anglophones.

READ MORE: ‘It’s time to test the pulse’: CAQ to hold consultations with English-speaking community groups

Carol Meindle, executive director of the Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations, is one of the participants who got a chance to bring concerns forward.

Meindle worries about Bill 40 — the plan to replace school boards with service centres — where parents will have a bigger role in managing schools.

READ MORE: Quebec plans to axe school boards but offers compromise to English institutions

“We’re afraid that if they’re promoted to being the majority on these board of directors, of these school service centres, they’re going to be overwhelmed,” Meindl said. “He should go visit English schools, small ones, in the regions… Ones that have home and school associations where parents are voluntarily already working in the school and see the difference and understand that the English system is very different.”

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Aki Tchitakov works helping anglophone youth find work at YES Montreal. He would like to see Emploi-Quebec adapt its programs so his clients can also benefit.

“The people that we work with face very specific hurdles. That sometimes is not recognized and we’re lumped together in a larger pool of policy,” Tchitakov said.

READ MORE: Hey Quebec anglophones: the province wants you to apply for civil service jobs

For Lindsay Morrison of the NDG Community Council, one of the biggest issues is access to English information from the government.

“And that was brought up a number of times,” Morrison said. “For some people that don’t have enough French — not that they have no French, they don’t have enough French — to be able to fill in forms, that can be pretty brutal.”

Quebec government insists it will protect English-language rights
Quebec government insists it will protect English-language rights

Christopher Skeete is at the helm of the meetings. He says his job is two-fold: bringing these concerns to the premier and shaping the Secretariat for English-speaking Quebecers for the future.

The secretariat was created by the Liberals but its funding is running out. Its future is now up for discussion.

“One of the reasons why we’re consulting with people is to see if there’s still a need… Personally, I think there is. What that need is, where we should be putting our efforts and how to package it so this becomes a permanent thing,” Skeete explained. “But ultimately it’s not my decision. The decision belongs to the premier, it’s his secretariat.”

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READ MORE: Quebec anglophone organization says province is ‘intruding on community rights’

Participants are optimistic that they’ve been heard and things will improve.

“I’m pretty hopeful,” Meindle said.

The Secretariat will hold similar meetings across the province until December. They say they will then prepare a report and decide what issues to tackle at the beginning of next year.