The status of English in Quebec is being threatened as a result of a controversial new amendment.
Bill 96, the law that expands Quebec’s ability to mandate the use of French in public and private settings, has become a heated topic since it was first proposed by the CAQ government last year. Since then the Premier and his government have taken a firm stance on language.
The latest example of this came on May 15th when the planned English debate for the this fall’s provincial election was cancelled after Francois Legault refused to take part. Legault’s reason for refusing to debate in English was his busy campaign schedule.
Now, despite protests and opposition from different groups across the province, Quebec’s National Assembly appears to be in the final stages of passing a bill that strengthens the Charter of the French Language from 1977. Its contents consist of 200 amendments — many of which impact health and social services — aimed at reinforcing the status of the French in provincial legislation.
A Leger poll from 2021 shows that between 72% and 95% of francophone Qubecers support the new amendment.
If Bill 96 is passed, here are some of its points that may directly impact Quebec’s anglophone population.
- Doctors will be required to address all their patients in French.
- Speaking French will be mandated in companies with more than 25 employees.
- The number of mandatory French CEGEP courses for anglophone students will increase to five.
- Limitations on the number of students accepted into English-speaking schools will be set.
- Fines of up to $30,000 and the revoking of the status of companies may be enacted if there are repeated incidents of employees communicating in other languages.
- Documents submitted to local government agencies to obtain permits, subsidies or financial assistance must be written exclusively in French.
- The government will have the right to seize one’s work phone to verify that they are communicating in French.
- Those who attended English schools in Quebec or in another province will be granted “historic anglophone” status and will therefore be allowed to keep doing so.
- A French-language minister will be appointed and put in charge of ensuring compliance with the new legislation.