Bill 96 became the French Language Respect Act

Bill 96 became the French Language Respect Act

The changes will affect all areas of life in Quebec.

On May 24, 2022, the National Assembly Québec ratified changes to the Charter of the French Language, the main language law of the province, after a full year of hearings and debates. 78 deputies were in favor, 29 against.

Let us list the main points of the French Respect Act that affect the daily life of those coming to Quebec:

  • immigrants can receive public services in any language other than French only for six months after arrival;
  • children of temporary residents may study in English in primary and secondary school for a maximum of three years;
  • public services in English will be available only to those who have studied or are studying in an English-speaking school in Quebec or other provinces of Canada;
  • all organizations with 25 or more employees must keep records, including internal records, in French;
  • the Quebec French Office has the right to search and seize documents of any company without a warrant;
  • Minister of the French Language has the right to veto subsidies and grants for municipalities if he considers that they do not respect the French Language Charter;
  • all business contracts, legal claims, court judgments must have a French version, which will be considered authentic in case of a semantic discrepancy with the English one;
  • the judges will speak only in French;
  • all services to the public must be provided in French, companies must prove that they have done everything possible to get rid of the need to serve someone in English;
  • it has become easier for Francophones to file a complaint if their right to service in French is violated;
  • seats in English-speaking colleges will be reduced to 17.5% of the total number of seats in Quebec colleges;
  • students at English-speaking colleges are required to take three core courses in French and to pass the French standard for students at French-speaking colleges.

We should expect that many small businesses will close down and start over in other provinces. Previously, the requirement to obtain a franchise certificate applied only to companies with at least 50 employees. More than 20,000 companies will be affected by the change.

The public is outraged that the new language law has abolished the equality of rights and freedoms of citizens prescribed in the basic laws of Canada and Quebec. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern about the fate of the province's English-speaking minority. Human rights lawyers intend to challenge the law in federal court and, if necessary, to reach international courts.

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