Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has appointed a minister responsible for anglophone affairs in a move to improve relations with the province’s English-speaking community.

The appointment of a new Anglo affairs minister is a first since the Marois government, in a province where tensions over dueling languages and cultures have simmered for decades. Longtime cabinet minister Kathleen Weil will take on the new role.

Weil’s appointment was part of a broader shake-up on Wednesday that boosted the cabinet’s ranks from 25 to 30, and doubled the ministers under the age of 45 years old.

Speaking in English during his cabinet shakeup announcement on Wednesday morning, Couillard referred to the province’s anglophone community as “an integral part of Quebec.” His Liberal government will face a general election next October.

“This is your home,” Couillard said. “Your talents and presence is needed (and) desired. I want you to know, and to feel, that you are all first-class citizens.”

Eric Maldoff, who was the founding president of the now-defunct pro-anglophone lobby group Alliance Quebec and a former adviser to Prime Minister Jean Chretien, said he is pleased to see Weil take the job.

He told CTV Montreal her primary role will be to help English speakers gain easier access to government services, including education and health care.

“The problem right now is really the on the ground stuff that is driving people crazy, where they just can’t get a service, can’t find a service, aren’t taking into account (that) programs don’t reflect the needs of the community,” he said.