Weekly Update #15, April 17, 2024

From the desk of Director General Sylvia Martin-Laforge, the Weekly Update keeps our Network leaders and members up to date on the advocacy, policy, legislative, public education, and social activities of the Quebec Community Groups Network. It also includes news about upcoming QCGN member and community events, as well as information on funding and other opportunities. Send comments and suggestions to communications@qcgn.ca.

QCGN feels let down by federal budget slight 

Today, the QCGN wrote to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and copied the entire federal Liberal Quebec caucus, expressing concern our unhappiness with the way the English-speaking community of Quebec is ignored with what seems like frustrating regularity.

Yesterday's budget was no exception. While francophone official minority-language communities received special mention in a number of areas, including support for French-language film production and references to supporting official-language minority communities outside Quebec, we heard no mention of the English-speaking official-language minority community here in Quebec. 

As we discovered last year with the passage of Bill C-13, an update of the federal Official Languages Act, finding friends in Ottawa has been decidedly challenging of late whenever political number-crunchers shape a government's or political party's priorities. 

We are making our displeasure with this latest snub of our community public and we promise to report back to you on any response we receive – or on any radio silence that might also be considered a response.  

Playing politics with the legitimate needs and expectations of a group of 1 million citizens simply because of accidents of demography or geography is, to repeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's often-used phrase, "unacceptable". 

Stay tuned! 

Provincial Finance Minister confronted on anglo angst 

Meanwhile, provincial finance Minister Eric Girard, who is the Minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, was taking heat yesterday in the National Assembly for the lack of English services provided to Quebec's English-speaking minority in the wake of Bill 96. 

During debate over the budget spending estimates Tuesday, Liberal opposition critic Greg Kelley recalled Girard's promise to improve relations with the English-speaking community. Kelley, who consulted the QCGN and the community on questions for the hearings, highlighted reports of English-speaking Quebecers facing difficulties in accessing services in English since the adoption of Bill 96, including bureaucratic hurdles at the provincial automobile insurance board (SAAQ). The QCGN also forwarded suggested questions to official opposition leader Marc Tanguay and critics with portfolios crucial to Quebec's English-speaking communities. 

Girard described these incidents as "unfortunate" and he reiterated his government's commitment to providing services to citizens in their preferred language. However, he reiterated an earlier statement that his role is not to act as a lobby for the community within cabinet, but rather to ensure that the perspective of Quebec's English-speaking minority is heard.  

Despite efforts to mend relations following the passing of Bill 96 - the harshening of the Charter of the French Language – Girard acknowledged that his government's decision to raise university tuition for out-of-province students caused dissatisfaction within the community and among universities. He insisted efforts were made to find compromises. Concordia and McGill, who have seen a significant drop in applications from students from the rest of Canada and abroad, are taking the Quebec government to court over tuition hikes.   

Girard said the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers has been working behind the scenes to enhance the lives of English-speaking Quebecers. Notably, he said the government approved access programs to provide health and social services in English and has allocated an additional $1 million for the Senior Wellness Centres, expanding the number of programs from 73 to 124 across 16 regions of Quebec. Despite budgetary constraints, funding for the Secretariat was increased in the budget to $13.3 million for 2024-2025. 

Québec Solidaire MNA Alejandra Zaga Mendez raised concerns about the high unemployment rate among English-speaking Quebecers, which Girard acknowledged and expressed a commitment to address by working with community groups to improve access to support services. Despite efforts to diversify the provincial government workforce, Girard acknowledged the lack of English speakers in the public sector. He expressed openness to new ideas and initiatives to address this issue. Read more in The Montreal Gazette.  

Cheers to our volunteers  

Every year at this time we take the time to celebrate the many volunteers in our Network who generously contribute their time and efforts to keep our communities, and the organizations that support them, together. The theme for National Volunteer Week 2024 is Every Moment Matters. This week "highlights the importance of every volunteer and each contribution they make at a moment when we need support more than ever," noted Volunteer Canada. "The sharing of time, skills, empathy, and creativity is vital to the inclusivity, strength, and wellbeing of our communities. If you work with a volunteer in your organization, make sure to show them some extra appreciation this week!" 

The QCGN, like nearly all non-profits in our Network, province and throughout Canada, is led by a volunteer board of directors. As such, I would like to express our community's gratitude to QCGN's Board of Directors and the countless volunteer leaders in our Network who have a positive impact on the lives of English-speaking Quebecers throughout this province. More details on National Volunteer Week and activities on the website of Volunteer Canada.

QCGN is looking for volunteer leaders 

Speaking of invaluable volunteers, the QCGN will soon be sending out the Call for Nominations for our 2024-2025 Board of Directors. As we are approaching our next Annual General Meeting on June 20, the QCGN is seeking candidates to fill seven of our 14 Director seats, including a new Board Secretary. Two-year terms begin following the AGM.  

As always, the Nominating Committee is seeking a representative balance of the Network and Quebec's English-speaking community including age, gender, geography, religious, cultural, and ethnic background, and sexual orientation, as well as specialized experience and expertise in areas identified by the Board.  

All QCGN Member organizations, regardless of category, are eligible to nominate qualified individuals. Individual Members may nominate themselves for one of three designated seats. It is important to note that all candidates applying for a seat on the Board must be an Individual Member of the QCGN prior to standing for election. For more information, please contact me at sylvia.martin-laforge@qcgn.ca. Thank you in advance for taking an active role in this year's nomination process. Your participation is crucial in helping our Network recruit engaged and effective leaders for the QCGN. 

Thanks in advance.

QCGN to host advocacy workshop with Amanada Sussman 

On April 30 from 10 a.m. till noon, the QCGN will be hosting a capacity-building workshop on advocacy and influencing policy change. This member-exclusive workshop will feature Canadian speaker, author, and strategist Amanda Sussman.  

Sussman, who is the author of the 2007 book The Art of The Possible: A Handbook for Political Activism, will discuss the processes, actors and avenues that are critical to advocating for change. From demystifying public systems to effective communication strategies, this workshop will serve to reinforce the strategic objectives of the QCGN as well as our many members and volunteers. 

You can register for the workshop here. If you have any questions, contact QCGN's Manager, Membership Service and Community Outreach, Maggie Severs

QCGN is hiring a Social Media and Marketing Coordinator 

We are recruiting for a dynamic and creative bilingual Social Media and Marketing Coordinator to join our marketing and communications team. The ideal candidate must be news savvy, have a thorough understanding of Quebec politics and the needs of Quebec's English-speaking community. Reporting to the Marketing & Communications Manager, the Social Media and Marketing Coordinator is responsible for participating in the QCGN's social media planning and implementation strategies. Daily tasks may include curating the Daily Briefing media scan, identifying items that are social media worthy, and updating the QCGN's social media platforms in a consistent manner. Other tasks may include playing an active role in event planning, working with the Director of Community Engagement and Strategic Alliances and assisting the Marketing and Communications Manager as required. Consult the job posting.  

QCGN seeking feedback on language conference 

We are hoping to receive more feedback on our bilingual conference French in Decline? New Perspectives on the Issues and Challenges of French as a Common Public Language of Quebec Society. If you were on hand for the conference either in person or online, or if viewed the recording, please take a few minutes to reply to our feedback questionnaire. Your answers will help us determine the path forward to continue to foster a meaningful dialogue within our community and with our Francophone neighbours on language. If you missed the conference or want to revisit it, you can watch the recording on our YouTube channel here.  

Thank you for reading our regular newsletter. For up-to-date news about the Quebec Community Groups Network you can visit our website at www.qcgn.ca or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.



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