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More than 300k Quebec kids eligible for English school, 76 per cent attend: StatsCan


More than 300,000 Quebec children have the constitutional right to education in English new Statistics Canada census data shows.

Statistics Canada is collecting this data for the first time, giving Quebec's English education system a real picture of the situation.

The census found 175,000 school-aged children in Quebec attended an English primary or secondary school in Canada, representing 76.2 per cent of eligible children aged 5 to 17 in this province.

Proximity is an issue for English speakers in some regions of the province.

"There are pockets of English-eligible students for whom it’s just not practical to attend English schools — they’re just too far," said Russell Copeman, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA).

StatCan says that more than 90 per cent of eligible children lived within 15 kilometres of a minority official language school in 2021. And those living in rural areas see an average distance that’s four times greater than in more densely populated regions.

"The analysis shows that the further eligible school-age children live from a minority official language school, the less likely they are to have attended a minority official language school," said Eric Caron-Malenfant, assistant director of Statistics Canada's demography centre.

Of the 304,000 eligible Quebec kids, nearly 74,000 are pre-school age. QESBA said that their records show about 81,000 children study in the English public sector.

That means there’s a big gap, showing that many students favour private schools or choose to study in French.

"It still leaves about 230,000, according to Statistics Canada, who are eligible for English instruction. And that’s a high number. It’s quite frankly higher than many of us anticipated," said Copeman.

Despite that, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has seen a slight uptick in enrolment this year.

"We have schools in certain parts of our sector that are bursting at the seams and then we have some schools that are not in that situation and their numbers have decreased," said EMSB spokesperson Mike Cohen.


In provinces and territories other than Quebec, 593,000 have the right to attend regular French public schools, nearly 64.7 per cent of those eligible.

Ontario has the largest number of children with French-language rights — 350,000 — while New Brunswick has the largest proportion with 36 per cent of all children.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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