The Quebec government's effort to transform English-language school boards into service centres, as it has done on the French side, was ruled last month to be unconstitutional and in violation of the rights of the province's English-speaking minority.
Premier François Legault said on Friday that the province should appeal that Quebec Superior Court ruling, which essentially nullified parts of his government's controversial Bill 40.
"I think we need to appeal," said Legault when asked about the ruling during a news conference.
Later in the day, the office of Education Minister Bernard Drainville confirmed that the Quebec government will appeal the ruling, saying it raises legal questions about the interpretation of certain statutes.
Legault said the goal is to do away with school boards in the English network because not many people vote in board elections, "so the percentage of participation is very low."
"It's important that you make sure that the best practices are put in place everywhere, French and English sides," he said.
Justice Sylvain Lussier's 125-page ruling invalidates several articles of the controversial Bill 40 — the Legault government's 2020 education reform law that sparked a challenge by the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA).
QESBA argued the law violates minority language education rights guaranteed in Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that it would grant the government too much control over education.
The association was awarded a stay in 2020, and the Quebec Superior Court then heard the case in 2021.
That stay is why institutions like the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) continue to operate today while the French school boards have been abolished, replaced by school service centres.
Lussier's ruling specifically criticizes the limitations on who governs English-language educational institutions.
He confirmed it is a violation of Article 23, which grants parents belonging to a linguistic minority in a province the right to have their children educated in their language throughout Canada.
A spokesperson for Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said at the time of the ruling that the government had taken note of the judgment and would analyze the possibility of appealing.
The government has until Monday to file an appeal.
In a statement Friday, QESBA says it is extremely disappointed with the premier's announcement.
The ruling was well-reasoned and thorough, the statement says, as Lussier "affirmed in no uncertain terms the fundamental importance of minority language rights and found that much of Bill 40 infringes on the English-speaking community's constitutional rights to manage and control its education institutions."
QESBA president Dan Lamoureux says in the statement that the onus is on the organization to "defend Charter rights. Although this is a heavy burden, we are prepared to continue the fight to ensure that our rights are maintained for our community and the students we serve."