HSLDA’s Review of the Changes to the Québec Education Act (Bill 144)
As previously mentioned, the Minister of Education, Sébastien Proulx, introduced Bill 144 in the National Assembly on June 9, 2017. Bill 144 will revise the Education Act relating to homeschooling in Québec. Our legal team has combed through the document and provided the following highlights for our members:
The good news is:
- Homeschooling continues to be a valid, legal educational choice for families;
- The requirement that homeschooling be equivalent to that education provided in public schools has been removed.
- It appears that the homeschooling community has had some impact on the proposed changes in Bill 144.
The key parts of Bill 144 that relate to homeschooling:
- Parents will have to provide a written notice to the school board of their intention to homeschool.
- They have to provide “appropriate” homeschooling
- They have to submit a learning project (this has not been defined yet).
- They have to comply with government regulations (which have not yet been written so we don’t know what additional standards or requirements will exist).
- A Guide is to be written for school boards and parents on good homeschooling practices. This can be a good thing! It depends on the content. We expect to have a
voice in the writing of the Guide.
- An province-wide advisory panel on homeschooling shall be established. We hope this will be very good news! Again, it depends on how the advisory panel will be constituted and how it will see its mandate. Our report to the Minister recommended that there be oversight of homeschoolers by a central office (rather than by the school boards). This is a step in that direction. We are pleased that the Bill 144 acknowledges the need for consistency across the province. Currently, some school boards are very hostile and ungracious to homeschoolers. We hope the advisory panel, along with the regulations and Guide will help to regularize a respectful treatment of homeschoolers. We also need to work hard to have a voice on the Advisory Panel. Who better to represent the interests of homeschoolers, than other homeschoolers!
- It will be very important to the homeschooling community of Quebec to continue to be involved, to be a stakeholder in the drafting of the regulations and the guide. Our voice is needed to ensure that the full range of homeschooling approaches (philosophies, techniques) are permitted and respected. This includes honouring a broad range of methods of evaluation.
- Concern: Youth Protection can still be involved where a school board in cases where the SB does not think the parents have taken the correct steps to ensure the child is attending school (or properly exempted from attendance by virtue of homeschooling) and fines of up to $10,000 can be levied against a parent for failing to ensure his or her child attends school (or is exempted from attendance).
- Concern: Bill 144 will expand the ability for one government department (like Ministry Health) to share info with the Ministry of Education for the purpose of gathering evidence to determine a child’s school attendance. This is an invasion of privacy.
What can you do?
- Support our advocacy through your donations to CCHE.
- Keep in contact with your MNA. We encourage all of our homeschooling families to write to their MNAs via email or postal mail to express their concerns regarding the changing legislation. It is imperative that we let them know that homeschooling is a viable educational option. The legislation should set clear protections for homeschoolers. Your written communication holds weight in the eyes of your elected official; and, by law, each letter must be read.
- Comment on Bill 144 at this link: https://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/commentaire.html?type=ProjetLoi&id=16049&url=travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-144-41-1. Comments provided online on the National Assembly’s website will be transmitted to the MNAs studying Bill 144.
The Québec Education Act has been in force since the 1960s, so keep in mind that whatever is changed in the Education Act could be in effect for another 50 years. Therefore, let us do everything possible to influence a positive outcome for the good of your children and future generations.