Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Chris Judd


Ever since a bar graph showing the difference in the pay that unilingual English, bilingual English, unilingual French, and bilingual French speaking people in Quebec earn was published, to show that the French population was not underpaid compared to the English work force in Quebec, I have been thinking that there is something missing here.
It was about 60 years ago that a team of recruiters from the Canadian Armed Forces visited our high school to talk to any grade nine, ten, or eleven students that wanted to listen and ask questions. Since it meant that those who attended could skip some other boring class, there was a full classroom in attendance to listen to the recruitment team. Most of the students attending had no intention of joining the armed forces, but it was a different talk than whatever else was offered. Joining the armed forces not only offered students a chance to see the world and have a career, but also the option to be trained in a variety of different trades which some students families could not afford.
The portion of the talk given by those professional recruiters that I will never forget was that they presented statistics that showed high school graduates made more money, and a better living than high school dropouts. More statistics showed that each year of education after high school increased your yearly income by thousands of dollars.
For a young farm boy who knew the meaning of doing without many luxuries and many other things that were not a luxury, that talk changed my mind from quitting school and working on the farm as soon as I was big enough, to at least going to an Agricultural College for a few years. My dad had a saying, “a little more education don’t take up much room in your pocket.”
Some of my schoolmates did later sign-up with the armed forces, received great training and retired much earlier than I did with a good pension too. Many more of my classmates and friends also remembered the talk that afternoon and went on to college, university or other high paying electronics and computer science fields.
It was only a few years ago that the Government of Quebec wanted to eliminate all school boards and take over everything to do with education. This prompted the English school boards to do a study into the success of different school boards in Quebec, other provinces and states. That study revealed that the per cent of school dropouts was much lower in the schools run by the English school boards than those operated by the Quebec Government. It also showed that the per cent of students completing their high school learning was higher in the English system. The per cent of students continuing on to higher education was also higher in the English system.
There also was a much higher gap between the level of education received by children of the “well-off” French families and the children of average wage earners than children raised in an English setting.
When Bill 101 was introduced in Quebec, it was introduced to protect the French language. Yes it encouraged the French to stay in Quebec. It also encouraged many companies and head offices of companies that did business in other provinces and countries, where English was the language of business, science and trade to move out of Quebec.
Many of the employees that left were bilingual, very well-educated people who were in a much higher wage scale and also paid higher taxes. This was great for the provinces or countries where those head offices moved to, but a great financial loss for Quebec. It also was the beginning of a significant “brain drain” of some of Quebec’s smartest, best educated individuals.
Only a short time ago we watched with horror when Quebec’s premier told smart, well educated students from other countries that they were not welcome in Quebec because they were not fluent in French. A quick response was announced by a leader of a more progressive western province, on T.V., that those same students would be welcome to come to university in that province. This was just more “brain drain” from Quebec.
With the implementing of Quebec Bill 96, We have witnessed even more companies, individuals, and head offices chose to set up outside the province of Quebec. This just means more “brain drain” from Quebec and good news for other provinces or countries.
Unfortunately, this great division between the “have” and “have not” in Quebec has been accepted for generations. A very few smart kids were selected from families to be educated, but most were poorly educated, worked hard, and encouraged to have more large families.
This “brain drain” continues today when the smartest, best educated, bilingual, from a French or English background, are chosen by private industry who have always out-bid public service to get the best, by paying the most. On the other hand, the Quebec government recruiters hired the less expensive potential employees and usually gave the “nod” to those more proficient in Quebecois French.
I am proud to call myself a true Quebecer, who’s ancestors have lived in Quebec for more than two hundred years. I have as many French friends as English friends and feel very upset that our province is being “gutted” by some very short-sighted politicians who will not tell Quebecer’s what is really happening.

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.


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