Bill 96 will force more Outaouais students to Ottawa

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Bill 96 presents some serious issues for our students, our community, our region, and our college, Cégep Heritage College, the Outaouais’ English language CEGEP. The latest amendments passed render this bill, introduced in May 2021 in Quebec City, even more problematic than the first draft.

As a result, we request that further consideration and consultation take place regarding its passage, its implementation, and its affect our community, located nine kilometres from Ottawa and far from Montreal, where the primary target of this bill is aimed.

Although the proposed law will not completely remove a student’s right to choose where to pursue college studies, it will, however, create more academic and financial stresses and barriers for anglophones and francophones wishing to pursue college studies in English in Quebec. Ontario will end up being the beneficiary of the bill in our region.

It is important to remember that in Outaouais, unlike in Montreal, there are competitors in our National Capital marketplace who will not be bound by Bill 96 and its new stricter requirements on students. In short, with respect to college studies, Bill 96 is counterproductive for our families, our local community, and the employers on our side of the Ottawa River.

In our region, it is understood by all residents that the ability to communicate in French and English provides opportunities to work in various industries, such as the federal, provincial, and municipal civil services, hospitality, health sciences, as well as small, medium and large-sized businesses in both Ottawa and Gatineau. Furthermore, the anglophone community in the Outaouais is growing, which is not the case in other communities in the province. They may easily revert to Ontario if their children are not attending Quebec schools and Cégeps.

The Quebec government’s proposal to restrict access to anglophone CEGEPS, will have its own adverse effect on student success and economic development in our region. The cumulative effect will be even more detrimental. Many Outaouais families are already paying substantial out-of-province tuition fees to attend Ontario colleges due to the lack of educational programming choices at home. Collège La Cité and Algonquin College, both located in Ottawa, are very welcoming of Quebec students in their programs. The passage of Bill 96 into law will create new barriers for all Outaouais students: anglophones, francophones, and allophones. Even more Outaouais students seeking a college education in English will have to leave the province, foregoing the tuition-free education available to them at a CEGEP. Let’s keep our students in our region!

In the Montreal media, there is talk of the “anglicization of Montreal.” Here in western Quebec, however, one can make the case that there is a very low perceived threat of English in our region. ln fact, the host francophone community is very welcoming. Regarding Bill 96 and its affect on Heritage College, we are innocent bystanders in a Montreal-based battle that has little to do with us.

Please re-examine the approach being taken with Bill 96 and support our Outaouais students.

Gordon Mclvor – Directeur général, CÉGEP Heritage College