As public hearings on Quebec's controversial language bill begin, the provincial Language Minister, Diane De Courcy, says she is prepared to listen with an open mind.

More than 80 groups and individuals are scheduled to appear before the national assembly over the next few weeks to discuss Bill 14, which makes amendments to the 35-year-old French language charter.

Both the provincial Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Quebec parties have said they plan to oppose the bill in its current state, meaning the minority Parti Québécois government will have to make some changes if they want Bill 14 to pass.

On Tuesday, the Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) said Bill 14 could unfairly deprive more than 80 regions of their bilingual status.

Bill 14 would allow the government, at the minister's discretion, to revoke bilingual status if a town's English-speaking population drops below 50 per cent.

According to the ASM, more than 428,000 Quebec residents live in bilingual boroughs and municipalities. The majority of them have adopted a resolution that opposes Bill 14 and asks for their bilingual status to be maintained.

"Municipalities and boroughs with bilingual status play an important role in enabling their English-speaking residents to feel at home in Quebec," said Anthony Housefather, Mayor of Côte-Saint-Luc and secretary of the association in a statement.

Quebec's civil service union, the Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec, criticized the bill for not going far enough.

The union said the law should identify French as the official language of government communication.

Lucie Martineau, the union's president, said some of her members have lost their jobs because they were not able to offer service in English.