The new Quebec Ethics and Citizenship course will be tested this September in 50 schools

July 2, 2022

DAPHNÉE DION-VIENS, Le Journal de Montréal

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, UPDATE Wednesday, 29 June 2022

The content of the new Quebec Culture and Citizenship course, which will replace the controversial Ethics and Religious Culture course (ECR), is taking shape. The provisional high school program, a copy of which was obtained by Le Journal de Montréal, will be tested in about 20 schools starting in the fall.

In the primary, the work is less advanced, says our sources, but about thirty schools will also test the new course during the next school year.

In total, about fifty schools will participate in these pilot projects, which will allow modifications to be made if necessary, they explain. Quebec is aiming to have the new course in all schools in the province by the start of the 2023 school year.

This content will occupy the same place in the subject grid as the Ethics and Religious Culture course, which has drawn criticism over the years. The “confidential working document,” which Le Journal was able to obtain, is dated June 22. Several sections remain to be completed, but the orientations of the programme and several elements of content are defined. This provisional version has been submitted for consultation in the school network.

Dialogue and critical thinking

As announced with great fanfare last fall, this new course aims to prepare young Quebecers to exercise their citizenship, through the practice of dialogue and the development of critical thinking, we read.

The content is mainly based on three objectives, which will also be the same at the primary level: to prepare for the exercise of Quebec citizenship, to aim for the recognition of oneself and others, and to pursue the common good.

In secondary school, two skills are to be acquired: studying a cultural reality and reflecting on an ethical issue.

To achieve this, a dozen themes will be addressed (see box opposite), from Secondary 1 to Secondary 5.

Sexuality education

Sexuality education, which used to be taught through ‘information capsules’ inserted in other subjects, will now be integrated into this new course throughout secondary school.

The content will be more or less the same, but this new framework will allow for more discussion and reflection on these issues while ensuring that the content is not swept under the carpet, as is sometimes the case at present, it is argued.

Digital education will also be addressed, but especially in Secondary 4, where cyberbullying and cyberaddiction will be discussed.

Religious culture

In addition, this new course aims to present religious culture as one of the facets of identity, along with several others, rather than making it a priority component as was the case in the Ethics and Religious Culture course, it says.

Religions thus occupy much less space in the content than in the previous course.

A fairly good reception

In October, the Legault government drew a lot of criticism when it unveiled the broad outlines of this new course, with which a dozen ministers had been associated.

In the school network, many saw it as “a great show with an electoral flavour” and feared an “instrumentalisation of education for political purposes”.

A provisional version of this programme was recently presented to the validation committee and the consultation committee, which bring together experts and actors in the school network. According to our information, the content was fairly well received.

However, many people in the school network are concerned about the conditions for implementing this new programme, which has been drafted at breakneck speed, and hope that training will be provided for teachers.


For each theme, here are some concepts and examples of notions 

Secondary 1 (50 hours)

Identities and belonging

Identity transformation (puberty, discovery of love and sexuality, sexual orientation)

Spaces of socialization, conformity and contestation

Collective life and public space

Public institutions, citizenship, eco-responsibility

Social diversity (ethnocultural, linguistic, religious, socioeconomic and gender)

Secondary 2 (50 hours)

Autonomy and interdependence

Freedom of choice, social solidarity, consumption

Relationships and sexual action, consent and violence

Democracy and social order

Individual and collective rights, democratic institutions

Rights and responsibilities, civic participation

Secondary 3 (no course offered)

Secondary 4 (100 hours)

Relationships and caring

Emotional and love relationships, sexual action

Continuum of violence, egalitarian relationships

Digital communication (cyberbullying)

Justice and law

Legal institutions, Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Sexual and marital violence

Legal framework of love and sexual life

Culture and symbolic productions

Popular cultures and mass culture

Alternative cultures, religious culture, cultural diversity

Representation of sexuality

Technology and future challenges

Technology and humanity (cyberaddiction)

Technological innovation and artificial intelligence

Ecological transition

Secondary 5 (50 hours)

Quest for meaning and worldviews

Existential philosophical issues (meaning of life and death), sexual agency (desire and pleasure), interpersonal and romantic relationships

Adult life choices, religions and spirituality

Social groups and power relations

Sexism, racism, colonialism, socio-economic inequalities, exploitation, violence, egalitarian practices, feminism, trade unionism, anti-racism, LGBTQ+ movement

Michel Virard