Free tuition and a stronger Bill 101 anchor PQ platform
According to the Parti Quebecois, a government led by Jean-Francois Lisee would set up "real free tuition" for CEGEP and university.
This is one of the PQ's main electoral platforms, unveiled during the second day of its national council Sunday in Drummondville.
If elected, the PQ talked about a gradual implementation during their first term, but did not mention a specific timetable for implementation.
In 2012, during the student crisis, the Marois government canceled the tuition fee hikes announced by the Liberals to set up annual indexing.
But this time the PQ goes a step further by positing the total cancellation of tuition fees - in hopes of curbing dropout rates.
In Quebec, approximately 20 per cent of students will withdraw from post-secondary studies.
The sovereignist party asserted that Quebecers must take "strong action to support the commitment and perseverance to pursue post-secondary studies," so that, from his first term, he can gradually introduce genuine free education, he said.
The move would also be strategic in the sense that it may coax anglophone post-secondary students to stay in Quebec after graduation.
While all the details have yet to be released, party officials said a part of its educational platform will focus on retaining English-speaking students, provided they also speak French.
"We don't want to lose a single English student," Lisee said at Saturday's meeting.
"If you give a diploma to an English student who is very good in his field that cannot thrive in the Quebec labour market, you've failed this student. You have failed this student by giving him a diploma and a ticket to Toronto. I don't want that."
Lisee also voiced the desire to make sure grads from english CEGEPs and universities have a "real" knowledge of French.
Also among the PQ platforms was state and religious neutrality. According to a detailed booklet handed out at Sunday's assemble, a Parti Quebecois government would not allow face coverings for anyone giving or receiving government services. Police, teachers, and judges, for example, would be forbidden to display religious convictions in the workplace.
Anyone receiving governmental services be required to uncover their faces. Freeze pay for doctors and re-negotiate agreements with medical specialists. Unblock traffic by 10% in Montreal by adding a streetcar network— Kelly Greig (@KellyGreig) May 27, 2018
As part of their "Grand Deblocage" of the Quebec transit system, the PQ posited an addition of reserved bus lanes on several main highways, including the 13, 15, 19, 20, 30.
Lisee reiterated his support for bringing trams back to Montreal, a mode of transportation not seen in the city since 1959.
"If we have a tram on the Main, it would help so much for the Orange line," he said. "A tram on Cote-Des-Neiges that would go to the Hippodrome, a tram to Lachine where there's lots of development."
The PQ's platform also calls for an expansion of Bill 101 to small businesses, making French mandatory for workplaces with fewer than 50 employees.
The Parti Quebecois also plans to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour by October 2022, and provide free daycare for families with an income under $34,000 a year.
Jennifer Drouin, a rare Anglophone in the PQ, is running for the party in the downtown riding of Ste-Marie-St-Jacques. She said protecting the French language is an issue close to her heart.
"You go into any store and it's 'Bonjour/hi,'" she said. "I'm an Anglo and I try to speak French and they respond in English... It shouldn't be happening."
If elected premier, Lisee said he would put an end to employers using English as a job requirement.
"I saw a number of job offers where English is required and French is preferred," he said. "The tipping point has been reached."
To read the PQ's full platform, click here.
- With files from CTV Montreal