Language law “unfair to the disabled”

By Robert Frank

Quebec politicians discriminate against people with disabilities, when they put promoting language ahead of helping the handicapped, St. Jérôme riding’s representative in Quebec City told fellow legislators, March 28.

“Article 10 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms stipulates that we must overcome any circumstance when someone suffers from a disability,” Jacques Duchesneau said, while depositing a petition signed by 709 Quebec citizens.

“Medical science has demonstrated that technical or human assistance can help people with language difficulties, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia to overcome their deficiencies,” he observed.

“However many people with such disabilities are denied such help or technical support on the pretext that they have to prove their skill at French expression or because it’s perceived that doing so would lower standards or grant them a privilege that would be unfair to other students.”

“This is extremely prejudicial to people with disabilities,” Duchesneau asserted, “which qualifies as discrimination, in violation of Article 10 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Quebec.”

He called for the Parti québécois government to reconcile the rights of the disabled with its wish to protect the French language.

“As Quebec citizens, we are calling for Article 35 of the Charter of the French Language to be amended to specify that the quality of French expression can be demonstrated by means of technical support,” Duchesneau demanded, “when a disability would lead to a shortcoming in school or in the workplace, for example.”

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