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Few small businesses comply with “Law 96”

Photo: Olivier Zuida Archives Le Devoir In addition to the obligation to register with the OQLF, Quebec businesses will have to comply with the new regulations on commercial signage by June 1, 2025.

One year to the day of the deadline imposed on them by the Legault government, 85% of companies with 25 to 49 employees targeted by the reform of the Charter of the French Language are still not complying to the requirements of the law.

According to data obtained by Le Devoir, “nearly 3,000” small businesses with 25 to 49 employees — including “around a hundred” under federal jurisdiction — have started the process of obtaining a francization certificate by registering with the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) . This represents approximately 15% of the approximately 20,000 companies that will have to comply with this obligation before June 1, 2025, confirmed OQLF spokesperson Chantal Bouchard in an email exchange.

By adopting the Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French (“Bill 96”), in 2022, the government of François Legault extended the scope of the Charter of the French Language, which already applied in companies with 50 employees or more, to companies with 25 to 49 workers.

In fact, this compulsory registration with the OQLF represents the first step in a multi-stage francization process for businesses.

After opening a file, they will be required to produce and transmit within the following three months an “evaluation […] of the use of French” within them. The Office's comments and the corrections to be made will then come.

If “the use of French is widespread at all levels”, the company will obtain “a francization certificate” from the OQLF, which will complete its francization process.


One year before the deadline set by law, the OQLF issues a warning to the companies concerned: “In the case of a company which does not register despite [our] communications […], the Charter provides for a process order that may result in transmission to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions. »

Updated to the data obtained by Le Devoir on Friday, the vice-president for Quebec of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business ( FCEI), François Vincent, said he was not surprised that things were progressing at this pace.

“We, at the CFIB, find that the paperwork is too heavy for what it brings in,” he emphasized on the other end of the phone. We are asking that we reduce the time… that we improve the francization process. There is surely a way to streamline the process. »

According to the CFIB, which sent a memorandum to the government in January, all of the francization procedures that come after registration with the OQLF can generate costs that can quickly escalate. “Very conservatively […] the costs associated with the francization process for Quebec SMEs could oscillate between 9.5 [million dollars] and 24.5 [million],” she writes.

And while it may seem simple to register with the Office, the work that comes next requires the allocation of several resources, estimates the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ).

“For those who still have to comply, affirmed the senior director of labor policies and economic intelligence of the CPQ, Daye Diallo, we must still take into consideration that there is currently a labor shortage, which can slow down the process for everything related to translation and obtaining new banners. »

Because in addition to the obligation to register with the Office, Quebec businesses will have to comply with the new regulations on commercial signage by June 1, 2025. A “perfect storm,” notes Mr. Diallo.

“It’s a lot of bureaucracy to be able to comply with the various regulatory requirements. Imagine the number of employees we put to work on these different regulations,” he said in an interview with Le Devoir.

French at work

By email, the OQLF ensures that it is available to answer all questions from businesses. “The Office supports businesses throughout their francization process and offers them personalized support,” underlined Ms. Bouchard on Friday.

According to the most recent Report on the evolution of the linguistic situation in Quebec, released a little over a week ago by the OQLF, approximately 80% of Quebecers use French more often at work. In 14% of cases, English dominates.

In 2021, “27.1% [of workers] used French and English, whether these two languages ​​were used as much as each other or whether one of them was predominated over the other”, added the OQLF in its report.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116