The Quebec Government Wants To Enforce Law 101 On More Businesses

"There is no reason why Quebecers should not be able to work in their own language."
Senior Editor
The Quebec Government Wants To Enforce Law 101 On More Businesses

After a striking report from the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) showed that over 60% of Montreal businesses "required or wanted" their last hire to have English skills, the government of Quebec has vowed to take action to better promote the French language in the workplace.

"It's not acceptable. [...] We're going to propose measures to improve Law 101," Premier Legault said after the release of the report. This week, Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the French language, offered a glimpse at what those measures could include.

In a Tuesday session with opposition party members in the National Assembly, Jolin-Barrette said that the CAQ wants Law 101, which says that Quebec workers have a right to work in French, "to also cover enterprises under federal jurisdiction."

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That would include banks, airlines, port services, telecommunications, and radio and television broadcasting, among other businesses.

Questioned by Québec Solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal, the minister stopped short of promising the new language "action plan" would include this measure, but he did say he "would like, [thinks] and [believes] it will."

Jolin-Barrette explained that some federally-regulated businesses already voluntarily operate in French, but he believes it should apply to them all as a rule.

"There is no reason why Quebecers should not be able to work in their own language and why Quebec legislation does not apply to the entire territory of Quebec and to the various objects that make it up."

He said he was "shocked" by the OQLF report and also found "disturbing" that "in nearly 41% of cases" cited in the report, a language other than French was required to communicate with other employees within a business.

"Above all, [Quebecers] should be able to communicate with each other in French."

He admitted that "it is understandable that, in certain situations, knowledge of another language is required for work when you have relations [...] with foreigners or by the very nature of the position [...] you are dealing with clients outside Quebec, but it is not true [...] that all positions require knowledge of a language other than French."

"In Quebec, in 2020, this is unacceptable, we are going to raise the bar, and I wonder how it is that we have slipped so far."

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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