French language: Law 96 is adopted despite opposition
Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette
Bill 96, proposed as an update to the Charter of the French language , was adopted on Tuesday afternoon and therefore becomes Bill 96. The law was passed by 78 votes to 29.
The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) voted against the adoption of this bill, while Québec solidaire (QS) came out in favor of it.
The Premier of Quebec, François Legault, and the Minister responsible for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, emphasize that French remains threatened in Quebec, but that the bill is a first step in the desire to preserve it.< /p>
Bill 96 will not reverse the decline of the French language. And we have a responsibility, like our founders, to set the record straight.
Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister responsible for the French Language
We need to have a larger percentage of newcomers who already speak French […]. It is my responsibility to ensure that the French language is protected in Quebec.
François Legault, Premier of Quebec
Points strong and reluctant
Although many welcome the initiative to strengthen the Charter of the French language, Bill 96 as adopted is far from unanimous among the Quebec electorate. It provides for the francization of all businesses with at least 25 employees and the obligation for immigrants to receive public services in French six months after their arrival in Quebec.
The use of English in courts and public services will be limited and the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) will benefit from new powers, including the ability to investigate internal complaints or complaints from the public.
This point makes Frédéric Bérard, constitutional lawyer and columnist for Métro react.. “New illustration, to make Kafka shudder: the deprivation of the guarantee against abusive searches, searches and seizures, henceforth allowing OQLF inspectors to disembark in protected places and to seize, if necessary, your computer or other equipment used, oh sacrilege, to send an email (illegally) in English. Next step, on the violation of the rule of law? Go figure,” he wrote in a column.
In an amendment tabled at the end of April, it is expected that “rights holders” in English-speaking CEGEPs will have to take three French courses. The Legault government also wants to maintain the proportion of students attending English-speaking CEGEPs at 17%. “I think it's a fair balance. […] We arrived at a solution which aims to ensure that the normal language of studies at the college level is French, while preserving free choice, ”explains Minister Jolin-Barrette in a press scrum.
What about care?
Many fear that Bill 96 will also have an impact on the services provided in Quebec health establishments. The CAQ guarantees that the status quo will remain and that everyone, regardless of their origin, will be able to benefit from services in English.
The Coalition for Quality Health and Social Services (CSSSQ) disagrees. Its president, Eric Maldoff, was at the National Assembly on Tuesday to decry the adoption of Law 96.
Instead of building an inclusive Quebec with mutual respect among citizens, the government has chosen to launch a debate on language according to them, to divide Quebecers.
Eric Maldoff, President of the Coalition for Social Services and Quality Health Care (CSSSQ)
“It is a government that drafted a law, instead of listening and trying to build a consensus that will strengthen Quebec. They have excluded a whole section of the population from any discussion and it is not only English speakers. Immigrants are affected, aboriginals are affected, and seniors will be affected as well,” Maldoff said.
According to Mr. Maldoff, the newly passed Bill 96 also imposes limitations and restrictions on people who can be treated in a language other than French, because it limits the means of communication. Social services depend on communications between providers and clients. Ineffective communication will have negative consequences on the treatment of patients and clients.