One of the harshest realities of the winter season, apart from the obvious, is the inevitable hike in heating costs, leaving you and your wallet out in the cold, so to speak.
Whether you live in fancy house in the burbs, or share a 4 1/2 with your bros in the McGill Ghetto, everyone feels the hurt of high heating bills just the same, and while turning off the heat all together seems like the only solution, which is obviously a terrible idea, there are some simple hacks to help ease your pain. And buying a space heater from Canadian Tire doesn't count, because those will actually run up your electricity bills significantly, which kinda defeats the point.
Before you you turn on the heat, make sure your heating system is properly maintained, clean under your baseboards, and flush the hot water heater. Since it's a little late for that, the key is to concentrate on keeping the existing heat in, instead of just turning up your thermostat.
While it's unfortunately impossible to get away from heating costs when Polar Vortexes and frost quakes are a thing, being a bit more mindful about how you conserve your heat will go along way.
Check for drafts
A handy way of doing so is to walk around your home with a feather or candle. If it shakes or flickers, it's a good sign you have a draft. Check around walls, floors, windows, doors, light fixtures and plugs.
Insulate any air-infiltration
Create an extra air-tight seal around windows by covering them in heat-shrinkable plastic and caulking the outside window frames if necessary. Reducing drafts can save you up to 30% year on heating costs.
Harness the power of the sun
Leaving your curtains and blinds open during the day will help warm your home. As soon as the sun sets, close them as well as doors to empty rooms to trap heat inside.
Properly manage your thermostat
During the day, room temperature should be between 18°C and 21°C. Pick up a cheapy room thermometer to keep track, as old thermostats are often off by a few degrees. At night or when not at home, lower the temperature a good two to four degrees, including in any unused rooms.
If you're going away for a few days, lower the temperature even more, make sure it's still high enough so pipes won't freeze, to about 12°C - 15°C.
Limit appliance use
When possible, postpone running your major appliances such as washer/dryer, dishwasher, oven etc., and limit the use of hot water as much as possible.
If it's an option, use a clockwise-turning ceiling fan to help circulate warm air to the lower parts of the room, and replacing old thermostats with digital ones will make sure your energy consumption is as efficient as possible.
The bill was first tabled by Quebec's Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, in December 2020, and it was passed following consultations between the government and Indigenous families in Quebec.
The goal was to meet the needs of Indigenous families while respecting their "culture and language, and also their suffering," according to the ministry.
The ministry also said it hopes "to support families in their quest for truth and also in the healing process."
In 2019, a report by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called on the Quebec government to provide Indigenous families with information on children who had been apprehended following admission to a hospital or health centre in Quebec.
How does the new law work?
Once it's implemented on September 21, Bill 79 will give Indigenous families access to personal information from "a health and social services institution, an organization or a religious congregation" about the circumstances surrounding the disappearance or death of children admitted to a health and social services institution in Quebec before December 31, 1992.
The government will provide the information through exemptions to Quebec's current laws that prevent disclosing personal information.
Under the new law, Quebec's minister responsible for Indigenous affairs will also have the power to launch an investigation if government information could help Indigenous families, but can't be disclosed because of the province's existing rules on disclosing personal information.
How have Indigenous leaders reacted to the new law?
On June 14, leaders from the Cree Nation said that while the law is an important step to "apologize or begin to compensate for the harm suffered by Indian Residential School survivors," the scope of the law needs to be revised since Indigenous children "were taken and never returned" for reasons beyond medical care in Quebec.
The Cree Nation specified that Quebec's education system was the largest "pretext for the institutionalized abduction of children," and that the school system's absence from Bill 79 means more action is needed.
The Grand Council of the Crees stated that not all Indigenous youth or community members will feel comfortable contacting the Quebec government for help with traumatic events that were associated with "governments they do not feel are their own."
The Council recommended that Quebec put mechanisms in place so Indigenous governments can represent and serve the needs of their own people.
The Official Languages Act, which last got a major update in 1988, comes months after Joly introduced the Liberal government's vision for language reform in Canada in February.
In a press release, the government said amending the act "is necessary to allow the law to keep pace with the social, demographic and technological realities in today's society."
In a news conference on June 15, Joly added that the goal is to "bring the official languages Act into the 21st century."
She said that "the new law recognizes that the official language of Quebec is French."
"[It] also recognizes that Quebec and Manitoba have specific protections when it comes to the use of both official languages in the courts and provincial legislatures."
What could the revisions look like?
The bill, if passed, will guarantee the right to be served and to work in French in businesses under Canadian jurisdiction in Quebec — as well as in other Canadian regions with a "strong francophone presence."
The amendment to the Act will also "explicitly state" that it would "not undermine the status, maintenance or enhancement of Indigenous languages while including the important concepts of reappropriation, revitalization and strengthening that are specific to Indigenous languages."
Joly said the bill would also oblige the federal immigration ministry to develop a support program to enhance francophone immigration outside of Quebec.
It would further amend the Act to oblige Supreme Court of Canada judges to be bilingual.
The bill lays out that it would grant Canada's official languages commissioner more power to fully enforce French-language requirements in federally-regulated workplaces across Canada.
The commissioner would also have new powers to receive complaints about "language of service and language of work" from employees of private companies under federal jurisdiction in Quebec — such as banks, airports, railways, telephone companies, broadcasting and Crown corporations.
"Let us be numerous and united in the streets to show our unwavering support for a French-speaking Quebec and to demonstrate our expectations for even bolder and stronger measures," said Marie-Anne Alepin, president of the SSJB, on Facebook.
"We have a responsibility [...] to ensure that Quebec becomes a French-speaking country."
MTL Blog's Alex Melki was on the scene of the protest, which began at the foot of Mount Royal, where protesters held up signs with slogans like, "Quebec libre, Quebec français."
Other protestors were seen giving speeches comparing Quebec's language debate to the Cuban Revolution and wearing Palestinian keffiyehs, which are Arab scarves, to cover their faces.
"There is no [appropriate] era for freedom," a protester said.
It would create a new "language policy of the State"
The minister of the French language would create a new "language policy of the State" that would apply to government bodies, government departments and municipal bodies.
This policy would lay out rules that government agencies have to follow in terms of whether they can use a language other than French in their communications.
It would also include ways to "control the quality of French used in an agency." And it even includes a section on "vocal music" in a government agency workplace for the "implementation of a French-language environment" that prioritizes Quebec "cultural works."
It would add two new clauses to the Canadian Constitution
The provincial government wants to amend the Canadian Constitution to include two new clauses: one declares Quebec a nation, and one says Quebec's only official language is French.
It could prompt changes to municipalities' bilingual statuses
Bill 96 proposes that municipalities could lose their official bilingual statuses if census data proves that less than 50% of their population considers English their first language.
However, CBC News reported that the government added a loophole allowing municipalities to vote to keep their bilingual status — regardless of demographics — "as long as that vote happens within 120 days of the bill's adoption."
Montreal does not currently have official bilingual status.
In a May 13 statement, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said, "As the only French-speaking metropolis in North America, Montréal will be an ally of Bill 101 and its reform."
It would mean additions to ministries, commissioners and OQLF powers
The government proposed creating "Francisation Québec" within the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, which would serve as a point of access for people who want to learn French.
It would also open a position for a French-language commissioner who would monitor the progression of the language situation in Quebec.
There would be an early French requirement for new immigrants
The government proposed that all government communication with new immigrants to Quebec will be in French after six months of their arrival.
However, the bill states that "An agency that provides services in a language other than French to immigrants shall, where the volume of the demand for such services by those persons warrants it, give preference to using their mother tongue."
Judges and Members of the National Assembly would not need to be bilingual
The government's bill proposes that provincially-appointed judges need not be bilingual to be appointed, "unless the Minister of Justice and the Minister of the French Language consider that the exercise of that office requires such knowledge and that all reasonable means have been taken to avoid imposing such a requirement."
The bill also says those appointed to the National Assembly do not need to know a language other than French.
Smaller companies — with 25 or more employees — would form "francization committees"
The current Charter of the French Language requires companies with 100 or more employees to form francization committees.
These committees evaluate the state of the French language at the company and report to the management of the company as well as the OQLF.
The new bill would apply this to companies with 25-99 employees as well.
Businesses with non-French trademarks would have "predominantly French" signage
The government wants businesses with registered non-French trademarks to make their signs "predominantly French."
In a press conference last week, Premier François Legault explained that a company like Canadian Tire would have to make the explanation of its business activities, such as "centre de rénovation," larger than its trademarked name on all signage.
It would cap spots at English-language CEGEPs
The Quebec government wants to place a cap on the number of students who can enroll in English CEGEPs, as well as the number of students receiving English-language education in French schools.
As well, the Quebec government will not grant a Diploma of College Studies (DEC) to students living in Quebec who do not have spoken and written knowledge of French as laid out by the minister of higher education.
To evaluate students' knowledge of French, the government is creating a uniform exam for all CEGEP students in Quebec, regardless of their language of instruction.
However, students who have received CEGEP education in English and been declared eligible to receive instruction in English, according to Quebec law, are not required to take that exam to get a DEC.