The Legault government passed a reform of the Charter of the French language last May.
Barely adopted, the Legault government's reform of Law 101 is making people cringe. The Mouvement Québec français (MQF) is outright demanding further reform, fearing that an undue number of people will continue to communicate exclusively in English with the government.
The main source of discontent for the MQF is the grandfather clause included in Bill 96, passed in May. This provision of acquired rights was a mistake, pleads the president of the MQF, Maxime Laporte.
This clause allows anyone who communicated in English with the government before May 13, 2021 to continue to receive communications in the language of Shakespeare from departments and agencies.
However, the government has greatly underestimated the number of people who can take advantage of this clause, according to Mr. Laporte, which will have lasting consequences for the Quebec state.
“This provision of acquired rights prolongs indefinitely the situation […] of institutional Anglo-bilingualism which prevailed and which will continue to prevail in Quebec. »
— Maxime Laporte, President of the French Quebec Movement
Through the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information, the MQF learned that in May 2021, the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec communicated in English with 12.33% of its beneficiaries, i.e. 1,018,229 people.
At Retraite Québec, it's even more, or 1,122,069, which represents 15.4% of people registered with the organization. Technically, these people could demand to continue to receive their communications in English.
These statistics are therefore higher than the 9% of native English speakers to which the Legault government has regularly made allusion in the process of adopting his reform of Bill 101.
In addition, Mr. Laporte recalls that 94% of Quebecers say they are able to carry on a conversation in French. He therefore finds it inconceivable that a legal exception has been created that perpetuates the use of English.
“If we find ourselves crystallizing a situation that we were trying by all means to fight on the ground, I'm sorry, but we does not help our cause. We are not helping the cause of French. »
— Maxime Laporte, President of the Mouvement Québec français
Maxime Laporte, president of the Mouvement Québec français
Quebec civil servants are currently in complete limbo according to the general president of the Union of Public and Parapublic Service of Quebec (SFPQ), Christian Daigle. We have no idea who is entitled to service in English and with which ministry, he laments.
The Ministry of the French Language indicates that it is indeed up to each ministry and organization to determine who can take advantage of the acquired rights clause.
The data concerning the number of people who can benefit from this measure are distributed in each ministry and organization that transmits communications to natural persons on the territory of Quebec, indicates the spokesperson Cathy Chenard.
Like the MQF, Christian Daigle is of the opinion that this clause goes much too far and fears that it will lead to unreasonable language requirements for the hiring of civil servants.
“Already, when we hire, on job postings, we require English in several job categories that we represent. For us, it's a problem, we shouldn't have that requirement. »
— Christian Daigle, General President of the SFPQ
Christian Daigle is General President of the Union of Public and Parapublic Employees of Quebec.
The office of the Minister of the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, indicates that it has no intention of acquiescing to the demands of the MQF. There are no plans to make changes to Bill 96, his press secretary, Élisabeth Gosselin, says by email.
The Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French, represents the most ambitious and important reform of the Charter of the French language since its adoption in 1977, she adds.
However, it is precisely to the foundations of the 1977 law, adopted under the government of René Lévesque, that the MQF would like to return. The reform we need is reform that restores Bill 101 […] to before it was butchered and the chainsaw massacre it suffered in court Canadians, summarizes Mr. Laporte.
We are not going to let go since the bad decisions that were made in the context of this reform and which are now written in black and white, alas , in the law, I think they will have to be corrected, he said.