EMSB expresses deep concern over possible government actions on the appointment of Directors General
The English Montreal School Board Council of Commissioners adopted a resolution at its March 28 meeting, expressing deep concern over a recent statement by Premier Francois Legault about the appointment of Directors General for School Service Centres.
Premier Legault raised the possibility of amending legislative provisions giving the government or the Minister of Education the power to hire and fire the Director Generals of School Service Centres. By virtue of a Quebec Superior Court decision, English public school boards remain in place while a ruling on the case against Bill 40 – the law abolishing public school boards in the province - is still being deliberated upon.
The EMSB emphasizes that such an amendment by the Quebec government would be unwarranted and further centralize decision-making authority within Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec at the expense of local accountability. It would also transform School Service Centres into regional bodies of the Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec. Stated EMSB Chair Joe Ortona: “Any changes to the legislative provisions that give the Quebec government or the Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec broad authority over the Directors General of school boards or English School Service Centres, if they are created as a result of a Bill 40 ruling, would be an impermissible violation of the constitutional rights of English-speaking Quebecers to manage and control its educational institutions under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Furthermore, Mr. Ortona said in reading the resolution, such amendment would be contrary to the spirit of the stay issued by the Quebec Superior Court and confirmed by the Quebec Court of Appeal for the governance of English public school boards to remain in place while the merits of Bill 40 are before the court. The Quebec government, the resolution explains, has already recognized the particular situation of the English-speaking community by proposing different governance models for the English and French education sectors. Bill 40 unreasonably limits the constitutional rights of the English community to manage and control its educational institutions. Given the current status of Bill 40, the Council of Commissioners wish to remind the provincial government that the selection of the top administrator remains one of the essential elements of the management and control of educational institutions by English-speaking Quebecers, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that in all other Canadian provinces and territories that have undertaken school governance reform in public education, the official language minority community has been exempted from any such reform. The EMSB opposes any legislative changes that further centralize powers to the Ministry away from local governance.
The EMSB and other English language public school boards in Quebec wish to obtain assurances from the Quebec government that should it decide to amend the legislative provisions in this regard, that this will not apply to the English-language education sector. Furthermore, if the Quebec government goes ahead with these legislative changes in the English sector, the EMSB will immediately seek to rectify the violation of the constitutional rights of its community with the appropriate legal remedies at its disposal.
About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.