• Nick Zacharias

Working on access to services and support for English-speaking community


PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS

A sizeable group of participants including politicians, community organizers and representatives of local groups gathered February 21 to discuss priorities for improving English-language access to services for health and public security, and improving quality of life for the Anglophone community in the region.

The Montérégie West Community Network (MWCN) is an organization dedicated to serving the English-speaking community of the region. Last Friday, at the Omnicentre in Pincourt, they hosted a workshop event as part of their network partnership initiative aimed at identifying needs and priorities for developing and improving the quality of social and community life for English-speakers, and based on that, to lay the groundwork for a three-year action plan.

The focus of the group was to look at ways to improve English access for health, employment, education, social services, culture and more, through building communication with relevant stakeholders. Present at the meeting were Co-ordinator Clément Bergeron and several members of the MWCN board, Christopher Skeete, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers; Members of the Quebec National Assembly Marie-Claude Nichols (Vaudreuil) and Marilyne Picard (Soulanges), and Member of Parliament Peter Schiefke. Also contributing to the event were area mayors Yvan Cardinal (Pincourt) and Robert Grimaudo (Saint-Lazare), as well as a number of stakeholders for health services, education, and employment and economic development for the region.

“This event for me is really important,” said Schiefke. “We are the largest Anglo community outside of Montreal; in fact there are now over 30,000 Anglos who call Vaudreuil-Soulanges home.” He continued to say that the protection of minority language rights is important, and it’s important to make sure that “…no matter where people go, they are offered the same services.”

Said Skeete, “In the province we have a large safety net, but unfortunately there are gaps in the way that English-speakers receive services; sometimes programs within the government of Quebec are not adapted to the English community.” He said the CAQ (Coalition pour l'avenir du Québec) government is working on addressing those gaps.

During the focus group workshop, what came out as having the highest priority were actions aimed at improving English access to health care and social services, as well as to public security (police and fire services). Also discussed were issues like the translation of available documentation, improving online communications for the MWCN, and working with towns to promote community organizations and develop strategies to improve communication with English-speaking citizens and families.

“We have our priorities, we know where our focus will be,” said Bergeron, saying the group is looking ahead to working with multiple services and organizations to improve quality of life for the Anglophone community.

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