'Bill 101 has to be respected,' Legault says of Lachute hospital controversy

Quebec Premier François Legault is dismissing concerns about the removal of English signs from the hospital in Lachute.

Quebec premier says Anglos have right to services in their language, but not signage

Quebec Premier François Legault says the province's language laws apply to hospitals, and that means English signage must come down in Lachute. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Quebec Premier François Legault ​is dismissing concerns about the removal of English signage from the hospital in Lachute, saying "Bill 101 has to be respected."

"I don't see the importance of having bilingual signs," he told reporters Thursday.

The regional health authority, the CISSS-des-Laurentides, announced last month that it was removing English from hospital signs to be in line with the French language charter.

The process is already underway. 

The word "Parking" has been taped over on one sign, while the words "Main Entrance" have been removed from another.

The words Main Entrance have already been removed from this sign outside the Lachine hospital. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Under Bill 101, hospitals that don't offer services predominantly in English are only allowed to post signs in French.

Nine Lachute-area mayors have opposed the decision, calling it "deeply disappointing." Anglophone rights groups have also panned the move.

But the premier says the health authority had no choice.

"We have to follow the law, and they weren't respecting the law," Legault said. 

"Anglophones will keep on having the right to have services in education and health care," he added.

The regional health authority has also reiterated that services will still be available in English and that the only thing changing is the signs, which will be in French only from now on.

The province's language watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française, requested English signs be taken down, the health authority said.