Quebec extends French language obligations to businesses under federal jurisdiction.
The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has just given businesses under federal jurisdiction one month to begin complying with new language of work obligations contained in Law 96.
According to information obtained by Radio-Canada, the OQLF wrote last Friday to businesses that were not yet registered with the provincial body asking them to begin developing a formal francization plan.
Companies with 25 to 49 employees have three years to complete the process, while those with 50 or more employees have six months.
The process does not not unanimous, while Ottawa claims to be responsible for companies in areas under its jurisdiction such as banking, telecommunications and interprovincial transport.
The federal government insists that these companies will instead have to comply with the new language-of-work obligations contained in Bill C-13.
This bill is still under study in Parliament, however, while the federal government is slow to fulfill its promise to modernize the Official Languages Act.
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“Quebec is currently benefiting from a vacuum, that is to say that as long as the federal government has not issued these new directives which will be in C-13 at the end of the year. regard to the obligations of businesses under federal jurisdiction in both official languages, there is a possibility, I think, for Quebec to act. »
— Stéphanie Chouinard, professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada
The Government of Quebec extended the scope of its language laws to businesses under federal jurisdiction with the reform of the Charter of the French Language, which was called Bill 96 and came into force last month.
The OQLF has therefore just initiated the francization process for businesses under federal jurisdiction with a letter giving them 30 days to provide the name of a contact person and their number of employees. .
Companies with between 25 and 49 employees will have three years to undertake a francization process in order to make French the language used within the company.
The requirements are higher for companies with 50 or more employees, who must register now with the OQLF and have six months to develop their francization plan.
The Minister for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette (archives)
The Minister for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, affirms that Quebec has all the authority necessary to impose new obligations for businesses located in the province.
Quebecers have the right to earn a living in their language, French. It is a fundamental right and it is non-negotiable, says its spokesperson, Élisabeth Gosselin-Bienvenue.
A lawyer who helps companies comply with the Charter of the French Language recently predicted that this case could end up in court.
“There is clearly a possibility of conflict with federal law in the area of employment, and one would expect the federal Department of Justice intervenes in such cases to preserve federal jurisdiction. »
— Alexandre Fallon, lawyer at Osler
The federal government, for its part, says it will defend its jurisdiction. Bill C-13 aims to allow the federal government to promote and protect the use of French within private businesses under federal jurisdiction in Quebec and in regions with a strong Francophone presence.
Among the companies that will be affected by the new measures, the railway company Canadian National (CN) says that it is currently analyzing the provisions of Bill 96 that affect companies under federal jurisdiction.
< p class="e-p">Air Canada stresses, for its part, that it is already governed by the federal law on official languages, while recalling that its subsidiary Air Canada Vacations is under provincial jurisdiction and is already registered with the 'OQLF.
Of the large companies under federal jurisdiction in Quebec, 189 have voluntarily obtained a francization certificate, according to the rules in place before the adoption of law 96.
However, the place of French within certain large companies has recently made headlines, in connection with the unilingualism of the CEO of Air Canada and the lack of Francophones on the CN board of directors.
Quebec is now imposing new francization obligations on all businesses with 25 or more employees, which must:
- offer documents in French for issues related to human resources or professional training;
- post their job offers in French;
- “take all means” to avoid requiring knowledge of 'other languages than French during the hiring process;
- ensure that meetings are held in French, that software is in French and that company terminology is in French;< /li>
- improve knowledge of French within the company.