Quebec government targets workplace with language bill

Quebec's Parti Québécois government says a new report offers proof the province must act to protect the French language.

Bilingualism on the rise, language watchdog says

Bilingualism on the rise 3:00

Quebec's Parti Québécois government says a new report offers proof the province must act to protect the French language.

The study conducted by the Office Québécois de la Langue Française states that French in workplaces across the province dropped from 91 per cent to 89 per cent between 1989 and 2010. In Montreal it went from 85 per cent to 80 per cent – in the same time span.

Quebec's Language Minister Diane De Courcy said the PQ government is moving full steam ahead with changes to Bill 101 before the holidays.

"It's clear that we will talk about workplace language when we table the Bill," said De Courcy.

She said the new provisions will restrict the use of English in the workplace.

Louise Marchand, president of the OQLF, said "we want to make sure when people use English it is because it is needed, as it is prescribed in the charter."

According to the report, 82 per cent of Montrealers spoke English at work in 2010 compared to 53 per cent in the rest of the province.

During its election campaign, the PQ promised to strengthen Bill 101 within the first 100 days of its mandate.

Last week, a new French-language coalition announced it would push the PQ to strengthen the language bill and propose its own amendments.

Opposition parties want to prevent the bill's expansion

The Coalition Avenir Québec agrees French needs to be protected, but is urging the PQ government to be reasonable.

"As far as I'm concerned, we have to work hard every day, day after day, to keep the fact that in this province, French is the official language and the first language," said CAQ House Leader Gérard Deltell.

But he said new legal limits on the use of English would be overkill.

Quebec's Liberal opposition said it is opposed to a stronger language bill.

"If that is a bill to erase [the] rights [of] citizens, you know my position," said the party's interim leader Jean-Marc Fournier. "You know the position of our party: we are for the respect of rights."

The Liberal Party is demanding the PQ work on creating more jobs instead of nitpicking over language in order to keep anglophones and allophones from leaving the province to make a living.