Quebec government intends to strengthen French Language Charter

·2 min read

Quebec is planning on strengthening its French Language Charter, also known as Bill 101.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, the province's minister in charge of the French language, announced Tuesday afternoon that he will table a bill to modify the law in order to better protect, valorize and promote the French language in Quebec, at the next legislative session.

"I want to reaffirm that the French language must be the only common language for Quebecers," Jolin-Barrette said at a news conference, expressing concern that the language is in decline in workplaces and certain municipalities.

The announcement comes as a series of recent news stories about the state of French in Montreal from Quebecor media is putting pressure on the government to act.

"All the indicators say there is a decline of French in Quebec, particularly in Montreal," Jolin-Barrette said Tuesday, citing a report from Quebec's French-language watchdog, L'office québécois de la langue française, from September, that showed a decline in the use of French in the workplace.

"I think it's urgent to act about that situation," Jolin-Barrette said.

The bill will include measures specific to the City of Montreal, which has been a point of concern for Jolin-Barrette in recent months, as well as ways to ensure French is the language used to integrate immigrants to Quebec.

It's possible the bill could also affect CEGEPs in the province, where Jolin-Barrette says the normal language of study should be French, but government officials say a final decision has not been made on the matter.

In an attempt to reassure anglophones, Jolin-Barrette insisted the Quebec government would continue to respect English-language institutions

"The bill that we will table will not affect the rights of the English-speaking community," Jolin-Barrette said.

He also said the bill would not affect the ability of Indigenous people to maintain their languages.

The idea of strengthening Bill 101 has support from parties in the National Assembly.

When asked about the subject at a news conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will review the province's bill and do whatever it can to protect French in Quebec and everywhere in Canada.

"As a government, we have always been focused on protecting French, and the protection of official language minorities across the country," Trudeau said.