CAQ 2020-2021 Budget Shows Real Support for English-speaking Communities

The Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) was very pleased to see yesterday’s CAQ Government Budget commit significant additional resources to the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers (SRQEA) to support English-speaking communities across Quebec in the areas of health and well-being of seniors, community vitality, and employment.

Wellness Centres
With regards to seniors and vulnerable community members, the CAQ Government committed to investing $4.7 million over five years in Wellness Centres, a community developed response to isolation, lack of access to services and promotion of healthy active life styles. English-speaking seniors count for 27% of the population and in several regions this percentage is even higher reaching beyond 30%. These seniors face serious challenges such as lower levels of bilingualism (which impacts their ability to access services), a deficit of care-givers and support networks due to family and friends leaving the province and a higher rate of low income. Given that seniors in general are also living longer and chronic illnesses and mobility issues are increasing, additional support to reducing social isolation and increasing autonomy is key to reducing health care costs and improving the overall health status of seniors.

The 40 existing wellness centres in communities across Quebec will now have long-term resources and can focus on caring for their clients and not knocking on doors trying to carve resources out of programs that were not designed to support them. The 25 additional centres will help reach even more vulnerable individuals in new communities. Programs, services and community supports adapted to supporting English-speaking seniors stay connected to services, stay healthy, active and live more independently is a key component to a healthy community.

Strengthening Community Vitality and Employment Strategy
This budget also committed an additional $6.1 million over 5 years to enhance the programs that strengthen the vitality of English-speaking communities as well as $7 million to improve employment integration and raise the employment rate of Quebec’s English-speakers. These investments can only improve the very challenging realities of communities across the province where the unemployment rate of English-speakers can far exceed the Francophone majority and where the sense of belonging and identity as an English-speaking Quebecers is challenged regularly.

Response to Priorities Identified by the Community
The CHSSN applauds the CAQ for listening to the community during the community consultation process held by the SRQEA in 2019 and acting concretely to respond to priorities put forward by the community. We are looking forward to seeing how these investments will be implemented.

The Community Health and Social Services Network is a network of over 70 organizations supporting the development of better access to English-language health and social services across the province of Quebec. The CHSSN promotes improvement of better access to services through the development of partnership, expertise in the knowledge-based and supporting a community of practice in the area of community development.