Liberals promise $950,000 to Anglo groups
The provincial government is promising to give five English groups $950,000 over the next two years.
Kathleen Weil, the minister responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, made the announcement Monday at Concordia University.
She said the funding comes out of the Anglophone Secretariat's budget, and will go toward expanding school programs, improving tourism, and more.
The English Language Arts Network, the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders, and the other groups said they were happy with the funding increase, but acknowledged a certain level of cynicism after years of being taken for granted by political parties in Quebec.
“I was really surprised that he didn't know a lot of the issues that we faced as Anglophones in the regions. His perception is that we were all bilingual, that we had easy access to services. We're not bilingual; in my community 80 per cent of Anglophones are unilingual,” said Helena Burke, executive director of the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders.
Premier Couillard said as much on Sunday, telling a gathering at Dawson College that the Liberals had not properly recognized the situation of the English-speaking community earlier in his mandate.
Weil said that was a sign things were improving.
"They saw it as very authentic when he said I've always cared about the community and he said beyond the voice, beyond your support, I want your trust, and the trust comes from dialogue, active listening on the part of the government to change things, to make sure the community feels at home here with deep roots," said Weil.
"So the comments I had were people were delighted that there's a change in our approach. It's a much more effective approach having a government body dedicated and a minister dedicated to the vitality of the community."
Among other plans, the English Language Arts Network is eager to expand its program from five to 15 schools, said executive director Guy Rodgers.
“The impact on kids in particular was extraordinary. Many of them don't have grandparents so it was a way of learning about arts but also about learning about the place of arts in history from generation to generation,” he said.
Weil also promised there will be more announcements and money for English-speaking Quebecers in the coming months including a plan to keep young Anglophones in the province.
The groups said creating the role of minister for relations with English-speaking Quebecers is a major victory, but there are questions if the post would still exist under a different government.
“I would hope that any political party that has an interest in a strong Quebec would certainly look at its English community as contributors,” said Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the Quebec Community Groups Network.