Weekly Update #39, December 6, 2023

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.

Bill 15 petition tabled as CAQ races to the finish line

After two weeks in circulation, our petition demanding more consultation on Bill 15 – the Coalition Avenir Québec government's plan for the massive centralization of health and social services – garnered some 6,400 signatures, far surpassing my goal of at least 5,000. The bill was tabled in the National Assembly yesterday afternoon. (Read our press release and click on the photo to view the tabling of the bill.) 

Public outcry makes it abundantly clear that Quebecers are upset at having their voices silenced in the management of their local health and social services institutions. The QCGN's stance on the bill is echoed by numerous community and patient advocates as well as doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who have also shown strong opposition to many aspects of this badly flawed bill. Opposition MNAs from the Liberal Party, Québec Solidaire, and the Parti Québécois have spoken out against this bill, while six former premiers, representing both Liberals and the PQ, took the unprecedented step of writing a public letter urging the government to reverse course, calling the proposed legislation "dangerous." 

Over the past three months, the government has proposed hundreds of amendments to its own bill indicating just how ill-conceived it was. Health and social services are vitally important to all Quebecers and deserve more than cavalier treatment by a government focused more on command and control than care and compassion. It is truly disturbing to note that from a policy and regulatory perspective our community is not systematically consulted on changes that will have significant impact on the ability of English-speaking Quebecers to receive critical services in their own language. 

After 227 hours spent examining the bill's clauses and adopting amendments, there are still 500 clauses left to adopt by the Committee on Health and Social Services which is undertaking the clause by clause study of the bill before it is sent back to the Assembly for a final vote. Following the petition and pressure from the opposition, House Leader Simon Jolin-Barrette announced today that the committee would work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with Bill 15 to be voted into law on Thursday. While additional debate at committee would be helpful, the QCGN maintains that broader and more inclusive consultations would have allowed the government to address the many flaws in this proposed legislation. See today's coverage by Philip Authier in The Montreal Gazette and this earlier commentary in Le Devoir by community organizers Stéphanie Vallée and Mercédez Roberge

Although late in the game, the QCGN was pleased last week when French-language media took notice of our concerns – coverage that was prompted by a surprise government amendment that would have allowed Santé Québec to do away with services in regions where numbers no longer warrant. Read this article in La Presse and this thoughtful column by seasoned political reporter Michel C. Auger. I am pleased to note that both journalists indicated that QCGN was the main voice and the most representative group of the English-speaking community across the province. Read our press release and more about the kerfuffle in The Montreal Gazette, on CTV Montreal and by La Presse Canadienne.  

In the meantime, the QCGN wants to thank our many members who signed and shared our petition as well as Westmount MNA Jennifer Maccarone who sponsored the petition and tabled it in the National Assembly Tuesday afternoon. This was a good example of collective action for the benefit of English-speaking Quebecers.  

Follow-up on Beaulieu "report" 

Last week I reported on the presentation of a report by Bloc Québécois MP and long-time language evangelist Mario Beaulieu which concluded, unsurprisingly, that federal funding for Quebec's English-speaking community supports anglicization. We observed that this thesis is flat out wrong. We have had the chance to study the report in some detail and wanted to follow up with you. 

The report itself is the usual, predictable stuff. Beaulieu, a former president of the Société St-Jean Baptiste de Montréal, has a long and colourful track record as a language hardliner. He has repeatedly denied that the English-speaking community of Quebec is a legitimate official-language minority. So, as expected, his report turns out to be an exercise in cherry picking convenient facts while ignoring others that don't support his thesis. It is loaded with distortion and disingenuousness and its contents will not cause us any fresh worry; we've heard it all before, in one way or another. 

We are however concerned about the way in which Quebec's minister for the French language, Jean-François Roberge, reacted to M. Beaulieu's sortie last week. "There's something absurd about funding English in Quebec with such high amounts, when everyone knows that the language under threat in Quebec is French," the minister told reporters. (See coverage in Le Journal de Montréal and La Presse.) 

The CAQ government's penchant for punishing the English-speaking community as a way of showing its support for the French language is now widely known and we fully expect there will be a demand for greater Quebec control of resources directed to our linguistic minority. All of this will bear continued scrutiny to ensure Ottawa is not swayed by any pressure from Quebec City to shift minority-language support away from the English-speaking community. We'll be watching. 

Webinar explores new duties for non-profits under Bill 96 

Last Wednesday a QCGN webinar on Bill 96 informed our member organizations about not-for-profits and their new responsibilities towards employees, the public and the Office Québécois de la language française (OQLF) under Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec which updated the Quebec's Charter of the French Language.  

Questions concerning new language regulations applicable under Bill 96 have been circulating since the bill passed in June 2022. While the legal mumbo jumbo can be difficult to understand, clarity is difficult to arrive at with the inclusion of multiple exceptions and exemptions. Through live polling, we saw that there was an increase in participant knowledge and understanding of the bill following the workshop. However, certain questions remain, and we have taken note of that.  

Among other new obligations, the workshop informed members of details pertaining to the francization of enterprises. As of 2025, all enterprises with 25+ employees must register with the OQLF and provide an analysis of the linguistic situation in the organization – a regulation that already applies to enterprises with 50+ employees. If required, an organization may also be required to participate in a francization program and create an internal francization committee. The full workshop can be viewed here until Jan. 12, 2024, at which point the recording will no longer be available, a necessary measure given the variable nature of legislation.  

I want to thank moderators Julianne Chu and Richard Goldman, Plain Language Specialists, and Mira Cliche, Program Coordinator with Éducaloi, for working with us to tailor this workshop for our members. Éducaloi is a bilingual, non-profit organization that works to promote greater autonomy in legal matters for individuals and communities by making the law more accessible. Excelling in two areas of expertise: clear legal communication and legal education, Éducaloi better equips individuals to have a deeper understanding of the law, their rights, and their responsibilities through their bank of online resources and topic specific workshops. We encourage you to visit Éducaloi's website for access to reliable information on a variety of legal topics and additional legal resources. I also encourage members to reach out to Maggie Severs, Manager of Member Services and Community Outreach, to let her know what topics of interest you would like to learn more about. As we strive to continuously develop our membership knowledge bank, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Canada Summer Jobs 2024: Application period begins November 21 

Employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees in Canada can apply for funding until next January 10 to hire young Canadians  next summer.  Full-time job placements will become available starting next April. The program aims to create 70,000 summer jobs for young Canadians, with an emphasis on creating jobs for youth facing barriers to employment. Details here

Please join us for our Holiday Breakfast and Open House next Wednesday 

In between QCGN tasks and feeding the reindeer, our elves have been busy decorating the office this week as we prepare for our Holiday Breakfast and Open House under the supervision of coordinating elves Prudence Ndiweni and Abel Worku

This year's Holiday Breakfast and Open House will feature live entertainment and engaging activities including Holiday Trivia Bingo prepared by our Manager, Membership Services and Community Outreach, Maggie Severs. There will also be a photo booth with holiday props and an artistic corner where guests will be invited to contribute to a collaborative chef-d'oeuvre. And, of course, there will be a tasty breakfast buffet that includes plenty of homemade holiday treats.  

The board and staff are also preparing items for our raffle to benefit the Fondation Notre Home Foundation, the recipient of our annual holiday fundraising efforts. So, bring along some of your allowance to invest in raffle tickets and bring home a lovely gift item. The foundation is a registered charitable foundation that raises funds to support initiatives by groups and organizations that encourage, enhance, and empower the English-speaking community of Quebec. If you cannot make it to our holiday gathering, please consider making a donation online here.

Please join us for this opportunity to toast the holiday season with colleagues and peers. In keeping with our traditional format, guests are welcome to arrive throughout the morning. As we make our list and check it twice, please make sure you're on it by RSVPing to our invite here. We want to make sure there are plenty of drinks and delicacies for all.  

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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