Community / Press Release

EMSB very pleased with partial stay on Bill 96

Montreal - Friday, April 19, 2024

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is very pleased with a Québec Superior Court decision that provides a partial stay of provisions of Bill 96 and the Charter of the French Language. This ruling also benefits other English language boards and the Quebec English School Boards Association.

EMSB Chair Joe Ortona notes that the Superior Court stayed parts of the law that would require English school boards to communicate exclusively in French when writing with key institutions of the English-speaking community, such as the Quebec English School Boards Association or the English Parents’ Committee Association of Quebec.  The EMSB had challenged the application of amendments to the Charter of the French Language adopted in 2002 that the government only brought into force in June 2023, without any consultation of the English-language community. “This is a significant win, of which the EMSB should be proud,” said Mr. Ortona. “While we offer rich programming in French in our schools and are committed to ensuring our students have strong French language capabilities so that they can live and work in Québec, it is important to emphasize that we are an English-language school board and a key institution of the English-speaking community.”

With respect to the Bill 96 provisions that were not stayed by the Superior Court, Mr. Ortona noted that the effect of the judge’s reasons is that the status quo will generally be maintained until there is a judgment on the constitutionality of Bill 96. He added that the EMSB can continue to use English exclusively in many situations, “which is good news.”

The EMSB and its legal team continue to analyze the judgment. In the ruling, the court concluded that the term “school service centres” in legislation applies to English-language school boards, despite the fact that Bill 40 does not apply to English-language school boards and that English-language school boards are not school service centres. The Council of Commissioners will have to decide whether to appeal this part of the ruling.

Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, was assented to on June 1, 2022 and the EMSB brought an application to challenge the constitutionality of some provisions of Bill 96 and the Charter of the French Language on the same day. “EMSB’s constitutional challenge to Bill 96 has been joined with the court challenges of other parties and is progressing through the court system though, like all constitutional challenges, it is expected to be a lengthy process,” noted Mr. Ortona. “EMSB applied for a stay to avoid suffering irreparable harm while EMSB waits for a final decision on the constitutional challenge.”

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at

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