Bill 105 Brings Us Back to Square One

Montreal - Thursday, September 22, 2016

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has tabled a brief in Quebec’s National Assembly, in which it rejects, on the whole, the government’s proposed amendments to the provincial Education Act. Bill 105, which is being debated in the Committee on Culture and Education, is the latest attempt by the current government to dilute the authority of elected commissioners on Council. This in turn weakens the Anglophone community’s constitutional rights of management and control over their school systems, as their elected representatives no longer have the decision-making powers necessary to continue delivering amongst the highest graduation success rates amongst public school boards across Quebec.

Bill 105 Brings Us Back to Square One - The government’s latest move to amend Quebec’s Education Act threatens the Anglophone community’s management and control of its school system

Here we go again,’’ declared Angela Mancini, Chairperson of the EMSB. ‟Earlier this year, our Board allied with countless others across the province to fight the government’s Bill 86, which looked to severely restrict our community’s right to elect its own school Board representatives. Bill 105 looks to strip the Council of Commissioners of important budgetary powers, as well as control over the organization and operation of individual schools in our system. With Bill 105, the government is trying to introduce through the back door what it attempted to get in via the front door with Bill 86. ˮ

The government’s proposed amendments to the Education Act in Bill 105 are unacceptable to the EMSB as they weaken the minority language community’s guaranteed constitutional rights. The EMSB rejects the creation of Resource Allocation Committees (RACs) that will enjoy undue levels of authority over budgetary spending for schools. RACs would be composed of, at most, one third of members that are directly accountable to the electorate (via appointment by the Council). This would introduce a significant democratic deficit at the heart of these new committees.

The EMSB likewise rejects the Quebec government’s move to invest greater powers in the position of the Minister of Education, as was similarly the case with the now defunct Bill 86. The EMSB does not support Bill 105’s proposals to allow the Education Minister to issue top-down directives to individual school boards on their administration, organization and operations. We also reject the considerable influence that the Minister would exercise, in a revised system, over the terms, conditions and parameters for individual school’s educational projects. 
Though the EMSB does not support Bill 105 in its entirety, certain proposals made by the government have merit. This applies notably to the move to grant voting rights to parent commissioners on Council.

The EMSB calls on the government of Quebec to amend Bill 105 to ensure that it respects the will of the electorate in decision-making over the management and control of our schools,ˮ said Ms. Mancini. ‟Our board is prepared to work with the government and Members of the National Assembly to realize this important objective, and we offer our constructive and full cooperation towards this end.ˮ

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