What are the current social problems and social policy issues in Quebec?
January 5, 2021 7:10 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to learn more about Quebec and I am curious to know if there are any ongoing social issues and social policy issues that are being faced in Quebec?

Are there any social issues/social policy with housing, immigration, healthcare, culture differences, marginalization at all? From a social perspective?
posted by RearWindow to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Umm, it's a place with 8.5 million people, of course there are social policy issues.

One of the recent hot button issues has been minority religious rights vs. secular government -- can public servants wear hijab, turbans or other expressions of faith?

That's just a single glaring example of a social issue that's much different in Quebec than in Anglo Canada, but they also have all the usual social problems -- housing, funding of services, poverty, health care, etc. Language rights and access to service in majority and minority languages casts a particular Quebec glow over all of those issues, as well.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:21 PM on January 5, 2021 [9 favorites]

The division in Quebec is roughly between Montreal – the urban area has about 3.5 million people – which is polyglot, and the rest of Quebec, which is almost entirely white francophone post-Catholic. (By post-Catholic I mean people who were christened and would probably say they're Catholic on census forms, but don't go to church or let relgious rules cramp their lifestyle.)

The current Quebec governing party is the Coalition Avenir Québec, which broke a longtime ping-pong of governance between the Liberals (federalist) and the Parti Québécois (sovereignist, in favour of Quebec secession). The CAQ, while not overtly pro-secession, are Quebec-nationalist in tone. As jacquilynne notes, in June 2019 they passed a law called the Loi sur la laïcité de l'État, commonly still referred to as Bill 21, forbidding anyone in a government-funded job from wearing any form of religious signifier at work. In Quebec that means health care and education as well as cops, judges and so forth. It was widely perceived as being aimed at women in hijab. Nobody had ever been able to demonstrate that anyone in hijab had tried to convert anybody or anything, but it played well in the regions.

The CAQ were only elected in two out of 27 provincial ridings on the island of Montreal and most of the rest went Liberal. The CAQ know they don't have to please Montreal to get re-elected. It's a real division, an island of red Liberal wins in a sea of pale blue CAQ.

The premier, François Legault, is also promising to tighten up the Charter of the French Language ("Bill 101") this year, making it more difficult to obtain services in English from the government and enforcing French language compliance on a wider range of business operations than the law previously covered.

The language issue is often stirred up by Quebecor, the media conglomerate owned by Pierre Karl Péladeau, who inherited it from his father, and who went on to not only own newspapers and TV stations but also to head the Parti Québécois for a brief period during 2015 and 2016 but thankfully didn't become premier. However, he keeps a stable of nationalist and (in a few cases) xenophobic columnists, and his media outlets love to run stories about the anguish of hearing people in stores in downtown Montreal say "Bonjour, Hi" to customers.

The CAQ tried to work out a way to make "Bonjour, Hi" illegal, but they couldn't.

If you want background on modern Quebec, read up on the Grande_Noirceur and the Quiet Revolution.
posted by zadcat at 8:07 PM on January 5, 2021 [15 favorites]

Anywhere and everywhere is dealing with disability related issues. That is a major segment that is often ignored in this type of discussion/research and is especially prevalent given the pandemic. I don’t have specifics. But I encourage you to find disability activists from the area.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:35 PM on January 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: jacquilynne and zadcat covered lots of the major issues -- language policy, anti-Muslim sentiment, political/social tension between Montreal and the rest of the province. Definitely read about the Quiet Revolution -- it's really important background to understanding everything about Quebec today.

You mentioned immigration, so I'll throw in one very current issue (last couple years): the CAQ (current governing party) has passed a number of anti-immigration policies, including throwing out the files of 18,000 skilled worker applicants forcing them to start the process over, and making it more difficult for foreign students to stay in Quebec after graduating.

(I grew up in the US and have lived in Montreal for about 4 years.)
posted by mekily at 10:08 PM on January 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

Anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism are huge problems in Quebec, that the current government refuses to recognize, to the point of claiming that "there is no systemic racism" in Quebec. Look up Joyce Echaquan.
posted by heatherlogan at 6:38 AM on January 6, 2021 [5 favorites]

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