Bill-96 and Proposed Amendments

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By Mary Clements

In my last newsletter I talked about the recent news of the Government of Canada’s intentions to update, modernize and strengthen the Official Languages Act  through the document: “English and French: towards a substantive equality of official languages in Canada”.

Another item that is popping up in Canada’s French language discussions is Bill-96 which provides for amending the Quebec section of the Canadian Constitution to include recognition of Quebec as a nation, and a nation of which French is the only official language. Some other changes include around:

CEGEPS and education 
-Priority would be given to English-language students for English CEGEPs
-Access to English-language programs in French CEGEPs would be reduced

Commerce and signs
-Non-French signage would have to be updated to feature predominantly French

-businesses with 25 to 49 employees would have to register with the Office québécois de la langue française and obtain a French certification
-promises to offer French-language courses to companies whose employees require it

Bilingual municipalities
-taking away the bilingual status of any municipality that does not have a population of at least 50 per cent English speakers
-city can adopt a resolution within to maintain their bilingual status within first 120 days

Opinions on Bill-96 range from concern for the government’s plan to limit enrolment at English-language CEGEPs, to support for trying to preserve the French language, to business groups concerned about the burden for smaller companies struggling to stay afloat long enough to make it to a post-pandemic recovery.