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Quebec education minister ‘would be surprised’ if Bill 40 is adopted by Christmas

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge responds to the opposition during question period on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at the legislature in Quebec City.
Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge responds to the opposition during question period on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge admits the clock is ticking on passing his proposed reforms to the province’s education system before the end of the year.

“It would be great, but I would be surprised if we adopted this bill before Christmas,” he said on Thursday. “I would be surprised but let’s hope.”

Bill 40 would eliminate school boards and replace them with service centres administered by a board of directors comprised of parents, community members and staff.

READ MORE: Unions and education groups ask Quebec government to delay adoption of Bill 40

Under the proposed law, general elections would be eliminated for the French-language school system while English-language school boards would still retain the right to hold democratic elections.

As part of the plan, Roberge proposed eliminating school board commissioners by February 2020, but the bill is still being studied at the national assembly.

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While the government held public consultations over the proposed reforms in early November, the bill must be worked through article by article before it becomes law.

With only six working days to go before the provincial legislature breaks for the holidays, Roberge has admitted it might be hard to adopt the bill within that time frame.

READ MORE: Bill 40 under fire as public hearings into Quebec’s education reform begin

Véronique Hivon, education critic for the Parti Québécois, doesn’t think it’s possible.

“We’re starting clause-by-clause study today,” she said. “It’s the first day. There are 300 articles, 80 bills that are modified by this bill.”

Earlier this week, more than a dozen groups within the education sector and unions called on Roberge to delay the adoption of Bill 40 until more consultations are held about the future of schools and public education.

They argue many groups were left out of the consultations and that the education system deserves to hear from all stakeholders.

Click to play video 'Quebec’s English community hosts its own Bill 40 hearings' Quebec’s English community hosts its own Bill 40 hearings
Quebec’s English community hosts its own Bill 40 hearings – Nov 19, 2019

— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher

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