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Quebec threatens to change laws after Montreal schools offer Grade 12 to bypass Bill 96


The province is threatening to modify the law in response to Montreal schools planning to bypass the effects of Bill 96.

Under the new language reform law, enrolment at English-language CEGEPs will be capped. As a workaround, multiple Montreal schools are now planning to offer Grade 12 so anglophone students can skip the college route altogether and graduate with an Ontario Secondary School diploma.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge was swift to respond to the idea.

"We are keeping an eye on these schools that offer this type of program. It's not an option for our government to tolerate the circumvention of the Charter of the French Language," wrote Roberge in a statement to CTV News.

"We are ready to make legislative changes if the situation requires it."

Students who would graduate from the program would then be able to apply for university just like any other out-of-province student.

But the Ministry of Education said these schools are "forbidden" from offering this workaround, saying they are not regulated by the province.

In a statement to CTV, the ministry said offering Grade 12 "sends a very bad message about Quebec's French and English college system, which offers excellent quality pre-university and technical training."

Offering Grade 12 programs, though, is nothing new in Quebec as some have been doing it for years. It's not clear, however, if the government's latest threat applies to the new schools offering the workaround or all schools in Quebec. When asked by CTV to clarify, a spokesperson for Minister Roberge did not respond. 

One of those schools taking part in response to the newly passed BIll 96 is TAV College in Côte-des-Neiges, which wants to lend a hand of support to anglophone students.

"I think we're focussing heavily on the anglophone community," said Elazar Meroz, the college's director of studies."If they can't be admitted because of the caps, because of the restraints on colleges, we'd like to offer them this option."

The one-year Grade 12 program costs $14,000 in tuition for the school year.

"As the caps start to get tighter and we see the effects trickle through, we expect the number to increase," said Meroz.

Most of the CEGEP restrictions will come into place for the 2024 academic year, and by then, the schools hope their Grade 12 programs will become more attractive.

"As the caps start to get tighter and we see the effects trickle through, we expect the number to increase," said Meroz, adding that the college hopes students will look to them as another way to get an English education.

-- With files from CTV News Montreal's Kelly Greig Top Stories

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