(Quebec) If it is now forbidden to pray in public schools in Quebec, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, does not intend to ban it to private schools that receive state subsidies and who maintain religious practices.

Mr. Drainville confirmed this orientation of the government on Tuesday during the study of the appropriations of his department in Parliament. Questioned by MP Pascal Bérubé of the Parti Québécois (PQ), the minister repeated that he does not “intend to review the funding model for private schools”.

According to Mr. Bérubé, this response from the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) government is inadequate and does not respect the spirit of Law 21 on state secularism. The PQ elected official believes that the Ministry of Education does not have to pay subsidies to schools that maintain religious practices, regardless of religion.

Moreover, Bernard Drainville once again reiterated that he does not see Quebec schools as part of a three-tier school network, which includes public schools, public schools offering special educational programs and subsidized private schools.

“It is not an analysis grid to which I adhere,” said the minister, specifying that his position is not “to weaken one network to strengthen another”.

Mr. Drainville was also questioned Tuesday by his vis-à-vis the official opposition, Liberal MP Marwah Rizqy, about the extracurricular activities offered in schools. In 2018, when it entered government for its first term, the CAQ promised “one hour of additional extracurricular activity per day for more sports, cultural activities and homework help for our young people who will benefit from a nurturing environment conducive to success.”

In 2019, the former Minister for Education, Isabelle Charest, who is now Minister responsible for Sports, Recreation and the Outdoors, announced that the measure was ultimately aimed at public secondary schools. According to data revealed during the study of credits, 449 schools declared [as of December 31] to have taken part in the measure which makes it possible to offer free at least one hour of extracurricular activities to secondary school students and 155,575 students had signed up for activities.

According to Quebec forecasts, 365,095 students will attend a public secondary school in 2022-2023 in full-time general education. The measure adding extracurricular activities would therefore have interested just over 40% of students.