L. Jacques Ménard encourages Quebecers to put their shoulder to the wheel and win the fight against dropping out of school

    Beyond the Numbers, a Matter of the Heart

    MONTREAL, April 27 /CNW/ - In a speech today before the Canadian Club of
Montreal, L. Jacques Ménard, President of BMO Financial Group, Quebec, noted
that more than 41 per cent of students who had enrolled in Secondary I in 2002
still hadn't obtained a diploma in 2007, the end of the normal five-year
period for completing secondary school in Quebec. "This is not only an
economic disaster for the province but also a human tragedy for each dropout,"
said Mr. Ménard,
    Mr. Ménard spoke during the launch of his new book, Beyond the Numbers, a
Matter of the Heart. "I wrote this book to enable all Quebecers to appreciate
the scale of the human tragedy that dropouts experience," he explained. "To be
a dropout means hearing 'no' more often when you're looking for a job. It
means knowing that you're forcing your family to bear the consequences of your
limitations. It means having less money to live on. In short, being a dropout
makes it very hard to keep pace with a society that's changing fast."
    Mr. Ménard, who chaired the Groupe d'action sur la persévérance et la
réussite scolaires, an action group on student retention and success, noted
that the lifetime earnings of a high school dropout are $439,000 less, on
average, than those of a graduate. "Each cohort of dropouts costs government
nearly $2 billion in lower tax revenues and higher costs, and that doesn't
take into account the thousands of positions that remain vacant due to the
shortage of qualified workers to fill them," he added.
    Mr. Menard unveiled a series of actions currently underway to reduce the
dropout rate, including:

    -   A major campaign put together by various media to support young
        people and encourage them to stay in school through graduation.
    -   Chambers of commerce and other business organizations have signed
        agreements with schools to guide young people toward trades and
        vocations in line with their interests.
    -   Young adults are setting up networks to visit youth in Quebec's
        schools and speak about the exciting careers awaiting them in the job
    -   A major Web-based campaign to mobilize thousands of volunteers
        throughout Quebec will be launched this fall.

    "A veritable tsunami against dropping out has been unleashed in Quebec,
and if Ontario was able to raise its graduation rate from 68 per cent to 77
per cent over the last five years, I don't see why we won't succeed in
supporting our young people so that by 2020 at least 80 per cent of them will
celebrate their 20th birthday with a high school diploma in hand," added Mr.
    The book Beyond the Numbers, a Matter of the Heart is offered free to
everyone who wants to help in the fight against dropping out. It is available
at all BMO Bank of Montreal branches in Quebec and can also be downloaded from
the blog www.sionsymettait.com.

For further information:

For further information: Ronald Monet, (514) 877-1873 or (514) 877-7251,

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