Many Quebec anglophones are furious with the government’s decision to pull funding for an expansion at Dawson College.
However, the higher education minister refutes accusations of discrimination.
When questioned during a press conference Monday afternoon, Minister of Higher Education Danielle McCann repeated what she said last week: it’s a question of budget.
She said the government needs to take into consideration that there will be over 20,000 more francophone students going to CEGEPs in the next five years.
“We will certainly help Dawson with renting, like we’re helping other CEGEPs also, but we had to make a choice. And we have also to protect the French language in Montreal,” she said.
The response from the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government is still leaving many people scratching their heads, including the former director general of Dawson College, now retired, Richard Filion.
He said renting temporary space — as the CEGEP has been doing — will not fix the problem. The project that was axed was to create a designated space for seven health profession programs, including nursing, radiation oncology and physiotherapy.
It would have been a groundbreaking new way to teach students, he said, as well as helping to serve the community because it would have also included a clinic that accepted real patients.
Faculty members say this decision doesn’t make sense given how desperately the province needs to recruit more health-care workers coming out of the pandemic.
“This building was going to house this clinique-école, which is a space where, while students are training for their discipline, instead of practicing on each other, on things we call mannequins or dummies, they’re practicing on real life patients,” explained teacher Tim Miller.
Filion said this decision is creating two classes of colleges and two classes of citizens.
“Those who are in a French college will be entitled to get what they want, what they need, in terms of space and facilities and equipment, while, if you’re studying in an English college, you won’t have what you deserve,” he said.
Quebec Community Groups Network’s Marlene Jennings said the premier is playing partisan politics.
“He’s telling anglophones: ‘Disappear, be quiet, we don’t want to see you,’ and he’s telling francophones, ‘You don’t have the right and the freedom to choose where you get educated,'” she said.