Montreal

Anglos want province to do more to protect access to English services, Vote Compass suggests

A third of respondents to the online tool Vote Compass say the Quebec government should do more when it comes to protecting services in English, with 15 per cent saying much more.

'Having access to services in English is extremely important,' says Literacy Quebec

Margo Legault, the executive director of Literacy Quebec, says the provincial government has taken steps in the last year to protect access to English services, but even more needs to be done. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Walk into Literacy Quebec's small office in Verdun, and you'll find Margo Legault hard at work.

The executive director works tirelessly to co-ordinate with organizations across the province which provide help in English adult literacy.

"It's very challenging," Legault says from the office that looks out onto Verdun Street.

Challenging but rewarding — especially when the provincial government recognizes the importance of that work, she says.

Of the almost 60,000 respondents to CBC's online tool Vote Compass, 43 per cent believe the government is doing enough to protect services in English in the province.

"It shows that when it comes to the protection of English services, a large proportion of Quebecers think that things are fine as they are now," said Charles Breton, director of research at Vox Pop Labs, which created Vote Compass.

"Still, 34 per cent said the government should do more, with 15 per cent saying much more."

Secretariat for English-speaking Quebecers

A year ago, the Couillard government announced the creation of a secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, a move applauded by the community.

"We now have a channel, somewhere where we can advocate," said Legault.

"We have a champion for our cause who can help us communicate with other intergovernmental agencies."

A total of $6.9 million was set aside for English community organizations in the last budget. The bulk of the money, $5.7 million, will go toward the Community Health and Social Services network to help anglophones access services.

Literacy Quebec will receive $400,000 over three years, significant funding for the organization which receives core funding of around $125,000 per year.

"There are definitely some improvements that have been made, but we'd like to see more," Legault said.

The Vote Compass data reflects that sentiment among anglophones.

Separate the data by the mother tongue of the respondents, and English respondents want more to be done. 

French respondents are content with what the government is doing, with relatively few saying less or more needs to be done.

The data is based on a question of the day that was in Vote Compass from Aug. 24 to Aug. 30, with 59,348 responses.

Respondents to the tool are not pre-selected, but the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample. 

First-ever televised English debate

Legault says what is particularly important this year is the fact that there will be an English-language leaders' debate because all four major party leaders have agreed to take part.

For Geoffrey Chambers, vice-president of the Quebec Community Groups Network, a group representing English-language community groups across the province, the debate is an unprecedented acknowledgement of anglophone voters.

"I think it's very good for the electoral debate as a whole," Chambers said. "It's a big step forward."

The debate, set for Sept. 17, is being put on by a consortium of English-language media in Quebec.

It will be broadcast by CBC on television, radio and online from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

From left to right: Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, Parti Québécois Leader Jean-François Lisée, Québec Solidaire spokesperson Manon Massé, and CAQ Leader François Legault. (CBC)

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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