Fees for Sport-études and other special programs have been illegal

Quebec's Education Minister admitted Wednesday that schools that have been charging parents extra fees for specialized programs like Sport-études have been doing so illegally.

The revelation came during a parliamentary committee discussion of the CAQ government's proposed legislation that would regulate the extra fees public schools can charge parents.

The new bill includes a line that says that the Education Act's right to free education does not extend to the specialized sports, international, arts or science programs.

Parti Quebecois MNA Véronique Hivon asked Jean-François Roberge to hold off on the decision to exclude the specialty programs from the right to free education, saying the idea could be debated at a later time.

Roberge said it would be impossible to push the decision because as it stands, schools charging parents for these speciality programs are doing so illegally. The Minister gave the floor to Gabrielle Bernard from the Ministry's Legal Affairs department. She explained that without changing the law any school that continued to charge for the special programs would leave itself open to prosecution.

The Education Minister said he can't speak for previous governments. He said it's possible no one knew, or they did know and decided to keep quiet. Roberge said his team looked at the current situation regarding the specialty programs and decided to make the change.