Who is Bill Floch?
Well known to the English-speaking community, Bill Floch arrives in his new role as leader of the Secretariat for Relations with English Speaking Quebecers possessing a wealth of experience and knowledge. Bill began his career in the education field, was for two years the Executive Director of the Townshippers’ Association, and for the last couple of decades has been engaged in various capacities at the Department of Canadian Heritage, primarily as a Policy Researcher and Manager. His work in policy research has given him both a deep and wide knowledge of the English-speaking community of Quebec and he is particularly well-suited to his new portfolio. At the press conference at which his appointment was announced, he was quoted as saying, “I’m very optimistic. There are really positive signs of openings and of support for this concept. It will be a matter figuring out across the sectors and ministries where we can help the most and align with community needs and priorities.” The ESCC is very pleased to be able to welcome Bill to its 37th AGM and we encourage the community to attend on June 13th at Loyola High School to learn more of the new Secretariat.
Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers
At the tail end of 2017, the Quebec government announced the establishment of a new Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers and that Bill Floch would be heading up the Secretariat. The announcement, following fast upon that of MNA Kathleen Weil being made Minister for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, was the culmination of a number of years of collaborative work by the Quebec Community Groups Network advocating for just such a governmental instrument for effective representation of the minority language community within the provincial government. By establishing this Secretariat, the Couillard government is in some ways emulating Ontario`s Ministry of Francophone Affairs which has a staff of 20 and a budget of $5.3 million. As described by the Secretariat, its goals are as follows:
- Ensure liaisons with sectoral, regional and provincial groups that represent English‑speaking Quebecers.
- Ensure that the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers are taken into consideration in the development of government policy direction and decisions, and in matters of access to government programmes and their application in conjunction with the concerned ministries and agencies.
- Make available relevant statistics to document issues facing English-speaking Quebecers.
- Interact with the federal government on issues, agreements, programs or policies that may have a direct or indirect impact on English-speaking Quebecers in collaboration with the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes and other ministries and bodies concerned.
- Advise the government, ministries and bodies on relations with English-speaking Quebecers regarding the provision of services and issues, agreements, programs and policies that may have a direct or indirect impact on the community.
Along with other faith communities, the Archdiocese of Montreal responded with alacrity to the needs of Syrian refugees in 2015. Under the coordination of Alessandra Santopadre, Assistant to the Director of the Office of Cultural and Ritual Communities, some 15 parishes became sponsors for refugee families and some 200 individual cases were handled. Now, in response to the wave of asylum seekers who are crossing the border from the United States, a new initiative, Le Pont, is being launched. One of the immediate requirements for asylum seekers is accommodation. The Parish of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in the Mercier borough of Montreal has offered their vacant rectory as a temporary shelter. The building has twelve rooms and priority will be given to pregnant women and single mothers. But help is needed!
Here is a list of necessary items:
Mattress and box springs “bassinette” size (5)
Single beds adults (or bunk beds) (15)
Safety barriers for bunk beds (10)
Small tables, chests of drawers, bedside tables (15-20)
Bedding set, blankets, towels: (40-50 SINGLE sets) (1 per person, plus spare)
Televisions, DVD player (2)
Radio, CD player (1)
Office, office chairs (1-2)
Office equipment: computer, printer, telephone, stationery
Round table, chairs (6) chairs
For the common living area: Games, books for all ages, DVDs, etc.
Patio set: outdoor chairs and tables, BBQ
Household equipment, mops, pails, brooms, etc preferably new, cleaning products
Non-perishable food items
Toiletries Shampoo, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products.
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On March 15, 2017, the Quebec Community Groups Network will be hosting a one-day conference on community engagement and the successful integration of newcomers. This pre-forum to the National Metropolis Conference aims to bring together representatives from various sectors and various regions to discuss how newcomers (immigrants, refugees and migrants) integrate into Quebec society through Quebec’s English-speaking communities and institutions, including faith-based organizations. The conference, sponsored by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), will wrap up with a roundtable of community organizations, service providers, and government representatives that aims to uncover innovative ways our communities can – with the support of municipal, provincial, and federal government institutions – foster the vitality of English-speaking communities in Quebec through the successful integration of newcomers – that is immigrants, refugees and migrants from the rest of Canada. Would you like more information? Go to the website for info and to register for this conference.