School taxes decrease for WQSB and increase for CSHBO

Added: Wed, 07/19/2017 - 11:04pm
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François Carrier (tr. AB)

Nothing seems to be settled regarding the disparity in school tax rates in the Outaouais. While Francophone school boards, such as the Commission scolaire des Hauts-Bois-de-l'Outaouais (CSHBO), seek a solution for decreasing numbers of tax payers and the consequent increase in their tax rates, the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) is experiencing growth. Due to a significant increase in property owners choosing to pay their school taxes to the WQSB, their tax rate fell from $0.17978 to $0.13694 per $100 of property evaluation;  the CSHBO rate will be more than double at $0.30 per $100.
According to James Shea, WQSB Commissioner, although his board is defined by its Anglophone mission statement, he sees this as support for bilingual education in the English institutions. “We appreciate our taxpayers' commitment to a bilingual education system like ours,” he said in a press release.
Situation denounced
Diane Nault, president of the CSHBO, denounces the situation. “Young families are held hostage. When people without children in school decide to change their tax accounts to enjoy a better tax rate, it's young families who are directly penalized because they do not have a choice if their children attend our French schools,” she explained.
Given that other Francophone school boards elsewhere in Quebec have lower tax rates than the Anglophone boards, Nault hopes to see a standard rate set across the province. “We hoped for a response from the government, but we have heard nothing. So we have to increase our rate again this year,” she told the Journal.
A solution?
According to Nault, the government said they have a solution, but nothing has been officially proposed. “When we met with the minister, he told us there is something that can be done, but there's still silence,” she said. “Citizens are tired of the increases; we have to do something,” she concluded.
Nault estimates that about 600 people moved their tax accounts from the CSHBO to the WQSB this year alone, and more than 1,000 people have done so in the last few years.