Ottawa, Quebec failed to halt Anglo community’s economic decline, says CEDEC
There was a collective failure on the part of federal and provincial governments to prioritize and take the necessary steps to address the economic decline of the English-speaking community of Quebec, the head of an economic development agency with concerns for the province’s anglophones claimed during an online consultation on Oct. 5.
“In the context of post-pandemic recovery, addressing this challenge must be at the centre of any constructive and productive dialogue with federal institutions with the responsibility for the economic development of the English-speaking community,” John Buck, president and CEO of the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation(CEDEC), told federal government officials who hosted the webconference.
“It is important to emphasize that a community’s health and well-being is a function of its economic vitality,” he added. “The economic development of the English-speaking community, especially in a post-COVID-19 recovery context, must ensure the continued vitality and resilience of the English-speaking community of Quebec in the years ahead.”
Buck said the English-speaking community of Quebec is experiencing economic decline in many quarters, examples being economic disadvantages related to employment, poverty, median incomes and a shrinking middle-class. He said that success in being able to deal effectively with these problems will be “essential to the long-term health and vitality of the official language minority community in Quebec.”
‘Ready and willing,’ CEDEC CEO said
In spite of his criticisms, Buck said that effective economic development that will benefit the English-speaking community of Quebec can only be achieved through collaboration and innovation.
“We are ready and willing to work with the federal government and its institutions, especially ISED and CED-Q, to strengthen economic growth and development of the English-speaking community, to develop and adopt a policy on the economic revitalization of the English-speaking community of Quebec in the context of the government’s immediate post-COVID-19 recovery plan, and to extend these efforts into the next official languages action plan.”
Anglo groups consulted
The CEDEC was just one group that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Region (CED-Q) had invited to participate in the first “Virtual Dialogue Day” with the English-speaking Communities in Quebec (ESCQ).
The purpose of the meeting was to measure the impact of the pandemic on the economic development of the communities, more specifically to reflect on main issues relating to the economic development of the ECSQ in the context of the pandemic, and to build and strengthen collaboration and partnerships between community stakeholders and federal institutions.
New consultation strategy
“This dialogue is a unique occasion for federal departments and partners that brings together English-speaking communities in Quebec and the federal government to reflect on experiences and challenges relating to the pandemic,” said Francis Bilodeau, senior assistant deputy minister for innovation strategies and policies at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
“These events, this one and other events we’ve launched, support a new consultation strategy put forward by the department,” he said, noting that a second consultation in November will concentrate on the pandemic’s impact on Quebec’s tourism sector, while a third will focus on sharing best practices and collaboration between communities and federal institutions.
Survey results released
Released during the meeting were draft key findings from a pre-consultation survey conducted over a period of 10 days in early September by the Association for Canadian Studies to assess the economic impacts of the pandemic on the English-speaking minority communities in Quebec and whether the federal programs/measures helped to effectively mitigate the impacts.
According to the survey results, 98 per cent of the respondents were from non-profit organizations, the remaining two per cent being from small businesses. The results also showed that nearly one-third of the respondents (29 per cent) used news outlets (local, national and international) as their primary source of information on COVID-19 programs.
More survey findings
In other findings, 80 per cent of respondents said their organization didn’t benefit from COVID-19 economic recovery programs offered by Canada Economic Development (CED), with half saying they had no need for support, and nearly a dozen organizations maintaining they didn’t meet the program criteria.
“The majority of those surveyed (64 per cent) responded that their organization didn’t benefit from any other COVID-19 programs offered by the federal government,” stated the survey’s authors, Paul Holley and Stefan Stefanovic. “According to the majority of the respondents, there was no need for support.”