Local Journalism Initiative
Quebec’s English school boards are crying foul after Education Minister Bernard Drainville tabled a bill Thursday to increase provincial control of the school system. Bill 23 would give the Education Ministry the power to hire and fire directors general of school service centres as well as English-language school boards. The bill would also allow the ministry to annul school board and service centre decisions it deems contrary to government priorities.
In February 2020, the National Assembly passed Bill 40, which abolished elected school boards and replaced them with school service centres. The Quebec English School Boards Association responded with a legal challenge, calling the bill an infringement on constitutionally protected minority language rights. A court injunction stayed Bill 40’s impact on the English school system, preserving English school boards until a full legal challenge could be heard. Though proceedings concluded in 2021, the Superior Court of Quebec is yet to release its decision.
Introducing Bill 23 while awaiting the decision on Bill 40 violates the spirit of the court’s stay, charged Russell Copeman, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association.