The election of the minority Parti Québécois government last September has many anglophones questioning their future in Quebec, a new poll commissioned by the CBC suggests.
Forty-two per cent of those surveyed in the EKOS research poll said they have considered leaving the province in the wake of the PQ victory.
In particular, the PQ's stance on language restrictions has raised eyebrows in the English-speaking community.
On Sunday, a crowd gathered in front of Premier Pauline Marois' Montreal office to protest Bill 14, which proposes amendments to Quebec's language laws.
Marc Stamos, who participated in the demonstration, grew up in Montreal. After living in Toronto, he moved back home to start a family. Now he's thinking of leaving again.
"We were starting to plant our roots here," he said.
'The environment in Quebec is hostile' —Richard Yufe, CRITIQ
"For the first time in 17 years, all of a sudden, we're starting to think of leaving again."
Real estate 'surge' in eastern Ontario
Jackie Smith, an Ontario Real Estate Broker, said she has noticed an increase in business since the election.
"We tend to notice a surge when the PQ gets into power," she said.
Smith, works for the Lancaster Royal LePage and sells homes just minutes from the Quebec border.
She estimated her business has gone up by about 25 per cent since the PQ's election.
Many of her clients are English-speaking Quebecers who are wary of the government's language policies. Some of them are also francophone parents who want their children to learn English in school.
'Tired of linguistic roadblocks,' Quebec City resident says
Ginny Roy and her family are pulling up stakes in Quebec City and moving to Toronto this summer, after having agonized over what they should do for the past several years.
Roy moved to Quebec from the United States 15 years ago, settling down in her francophone husband's hometown to raise her daughter, who is now in high school.
She said her daughter is reluctant to leave, but she and her husband have decided it's a question of survival for their family.
"I'm tired of the linguistic roadblocks," Roy told Bernard St-Laurent, host of Quebec's Radio Noon.
Roy said her job history is spotty because her French is not considered good enough by many Quebec City employers.
However, she said it was the difficulty in getting health care in her native language that was the final straw.
Roy has had cancer three times, and she said that last summer one of the specialists who had always been willing to speak to her in English in the past suddenly refused to.
She said this happened shortly after the start of the provincial election campaign.
"It was very telling — her political affilation," Roy said. "I was out the door as fast as she could get me… She looked like she didn't even want me in her office."
'Glass ceiling' for non-francophones, activist says
Richard Yufe is a member of the executive committee of Canadian Rights in Quebec (CRITIQ), a newly formed organization that aims to defend the rights of Quebecers to live in both French and English.
Yufe says there is a glass ceiling in Quebec for those who don't have a French-language background.
"The environment in Quebec is hostile," he said.
"[In] the law firms, the accounting firms, the marketing firms, there's a perceived notion that you can't have too much of an English face," Yufe said. "You have to have a French character and flavour because we're in Quebec."
Yufe said this creates an environment that is particularly difficult for English speakers.
Quebec brain drain
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), an organization that works to defend the rights of anglophones, said it's not surprised people are crossing the border.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge, director general of the QCGN, said the poll results suggest a significant percentage of the English-speaking population is unhappy about their place in Quebec.
'There's an enormous brain drain' —Sylvia Martin-Laforge, QCGN
"Forty-two per cent is a pretty big number," she said.
Martin-Laforge said the PQ's stance on language laws has created concern among anglophones since the election.
Since the PQ's first election win in 1976 and the subsequent 1980 sovereignty referendum, Quebec's English speaking population has declined by thousands of people.
"By their leaving, there is a brain drain, there's an enormous brain drain," Martin-Laforge said.
In 1971, before the PQ's first election, the anglophone population sat at 788,833. By 2011, the total had dropped to 599,230.
The EKOS poll results are based on a telephone survey conducted between Jan. 15 and Jan. 23 with a random sample of 1,001 anglophone Quebecers.
The margin of error is +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.