MONTREAL -- After a heated debate, the youth wing of the Parti Quebecois (CNJPQ) called for an end to public funding for private schools on Sunday.

In Quebec, private schools are funded at 40 per cent by the province. Thus, an envelope of more than $500 million is distributed each year to private education establishments.

The issue comes up periodically due to the problems of underfunding in public schools, but it remains a taboo topic among a large part of the political class as there are private schools in a very large number of constituencies and many voters defend them.

Meeting at a conference in Montreal, the members of the PQ youth wing finally opted to end state funding for private schools.

"Taxpayers should not pay for the choices of the bourgeoisie," said a young PQ member, who was applauded by part of the audience.

Another activist in favour of the plan argued that the school's public service mission was not shared by the private network, even though it was funded using public money.

"If we cut funding, it will be even more elitist," argued one of the activists opposed to this position.

"Parents who make sacrifices will no longer be able to pay for private schooling for their children. It will flood public schools (due to the influx of new students)."

One of the candidates for the PQ leadership race, Sylvain Gaudreault, cautiously welcomed the position of the young PQ members.

Present to listen to the debates, he said he was open and ready to study the proposal without necessarily endorsing it immediately.

"Avoid segregation. I think that's the principle," he said.

In a voluminous report, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation had already indicated that the Quebec education system was already the most unequal in the country.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Mar. 8, 2020.