MONTREAL -- English Montreal School Board (EMSB) trustee Marlene Jennings wants the Quebec government to consider relaxing its language laws in order to help English schools thrive.

“One of the things that the government might want to do is, while they’re reviewing Bill 101…they might want to open up the possibility of [allowing] newly-arrived immigrants whose first language is English, or whose first official language is English…go to English schools if they so wish,” she said.

The CAQ government placed Jennings in charge of the EMSB last November after two damning reports found evidence of mismanagement when it came to monetary expenses and contracts. The reports have since been transferred to anti-corruption unit, UPAC.

Monday, she announced the EMSB would be closing three of its east end schools because of declining enrolment and an "exodus" of English-speaking families from the area.

St. Dorothy Elementary students will go to Our Lady of Pompei Elementary, while John Paul I Junior High students will be officially transferred to Laurier MacDonald High School and General Vanier Elementary students will be sent to either Dante Elementary or Pierre-de-Coubertin Elementary.

"In an ideal situation, we would not have to close English schools. In an ideal situation, there would be as many English families as there were two generations ago, but that is not our current reality," Jennings said.

The three schools are set to close at the end of the academic year.


Currently, children are eligible to study in English in Quebec if:

  • They received most of their elementary or secondary studies in English in Canada;
  • They have a sibling who did most of their elementary or secondary studies in English in Canada;
  • They have a parent who did most of their elementary studies in English in Canada;
  • They have a parent who attended school in Quebec after Aug. 26, 1977 and could have been eligible to study in English at that time.

Contrary to Jennings' suggestion, the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) stated last year that it wanted to strengthen the province’s language law, Bill 101.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette had, at the time, also suggested obliging newcomers to the province to receive all government documents in French only.

He noted only the “historic anglophone minority” should be allowed to communicate with the government in English.