Quebec asks federally regulated businesses to come up with a plan to increase French in the workplace

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Quebec has begun warning businesses under federal jurisdiction that they have one month to develop a plan that complies with its new language regulations under Bill 96.

Last week, Quebec’s language watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), sent a letter to hundreds of unregistered federally regulated businesses to begin the francization process “in order to generalize the use of French within companies”.

Under Law 96, the process is now mandatory for all companies with 25 or more employees.

“Companies with 50 or more employees have been informed that they must immediately begin the francization process,” said Chantal Bouchard, spokesperson for the OQLF. “Companies with 25 to 49 employees have been informed that they can register now but that they have three years after the adoption of the law to do so.”

Nevertheless, the OQLF says it has asked all companies, regardless of their size, to provide “certain information within 30 days” to allow it to begin its support process.

The controversial language law was passed last month by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government and promised sweeping changes to strengthen the presence of the French language in the province.

At the time, Quebec said it expected Bill 96 to be extended to businesses under federal jurisdiction, such as banks, airlines and telecommunications companies.

However, the federal government is working on its own plan to update Canada’s Official Languages ​​Act, Bill C-13.

It is still being debated in Parliament, but federally regulated businesses would have to comply with any potential new rule once it is established.

Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has already said that Ottawa is ready to get involved in Bill 96, depending on how it is executed.

“We will, as I said, monitor the implementation,” he said. “There are opportunities to implement the law without affecting federal jurisdiction.”

The OQLF specifies that federally regulated businesses registered with it before the adoption of the amendment “have already been accredited”.

In addition to this francization process for businesses, Bill 96 gives new immigrants, including refugees, six months to master the language before using it for official purposes, with some exceptions for health and justice. .

Another part of the law specifies that birth, death and marriage certificates will now only be issued in French.

Many experts in fields including health care, education and justice have questioned the legality of the bill, with legal challenges already filed — and more potentially to come.


— with files from CTV News‘ Joe Lofaro.

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