Charter of the French Language |  End of “state bilingualism” postponed by one year

Charter of the French Language | End of “state bilingualism” postponed by one year

The Legault government will postpone by a year the entry into force of a major amendment to the French Language Charter, which will require the state to communicate in writing with all legal entities established in Quebec “only” in French, according to La Presse.

Updated at 7:42 yesterday

Split

Maxim Bergeron

Maxime Bergeron The press

This change was enacted by law in 2002, but the provisions on written state communications were never implemented. The Minister for French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, finally decreed its implementation in May 2021, almost two decades later. The measures should come into effect next week.

This decree was shortly followed by the submission of Bill 96, which will significantly change the charter of the French language. Minister Jolin-Barrette’s law also includes clauses systematizing the use of French in public services, to be applied from June 2023.

In order to “stitch” the 2002 PQ Act with the new charter, Quebec will delay implementation of the Article on Written State Communications by a year, Mr. Jolin-Barrette said in a statement to La Presse.

This linkage was ‘always’ the Minister’s intention, but debates on Bill 96 have taken longer than expected, according to his Cabinet. The law was approved on June 1 and its various clauses will gradually come into force over the next three years.

According to our information, the Council of Ministers will shortly adopt a decree to confirm this postponement by one year.

complicated story

The exclusive use of French in government written communications was envisaged when the Charter of the French Language was passed in 1977 under Section 16 of Bill 101. Those rules were lifted by the Liberal government in 1993, a relaxation that led to “institutional bilingualism in the administration,” according to a 2000 commission on the future of French.

Bernard Landry’s PQ government then passed the French Language Charter Amendment Act in 2002. However, it never implemented the article on written communications from the state.

“Deferring this article” is coming to an end, Minister Jolin-Barrette argued when he announced his decree in May 2021. The changes that will come into effect in June 2023 will be numerous and coming, so “fix this important deficiency”.

All ministries, government, municipal and school authorities, as well as health and social care institutions, are encouraged to communicate in writing with the various companies in the province and with other governments in French only.

Quebec will make some “exceptions” to this rule, for example in the tourism sector, but the goal remains to demonstrate the “exemplary” state of use of French, the minister told the cabinet. “The norm is becoming French. »

Exceptions will be defined in the future national language policy to be developed over the next year. This should come into force within a year.

Controversial

The section of the 2002 Act does not apply to communications between the government apparatus and citizens. However, several provisions of the new law reforming the Charter of the French Language will have an impact on this.

For example, six months after arriving in Quebec, immigrants can only communicate with the government in French.

Many groups, including researchers commissioned by Quebec, consider this requirement to be inhumane and inapplicable.

Bill 96 also provides for a number of measures to increase the use of French in the workplace. Among other things, SMEs with 25 or more employees – instead of 50 today – must submit to increased franchise obligations, and all companies must demonstrate that bilingualism is required if they require it for a new job.

The business world is concerned. A coalition of tech leaders warned Tuesday morning of a potential job drain, a fear promptly brushed aside by Minister Jolin-Barrette.