If you’re at all familiar with the news coming out of Quebec—or live here yourself—you likely know something about the recently-passed Bill 96, which will put a number of French language reform laws into effect across the province.
While opinions on the controversial laws have been divided, one thing is clear: understanding the changes that the bill will enact is crucial for anyone in Montreal whose first language isn’t French.
Naturally, many of our non-French-speaking, Montreal-based students have expressed concerns and confusion over the new laws and their implications—especially those who claim neither English nor French as their native tongue.
That’s why we’re here to help you make sense of this complicated bill, and determine what it means for you and your family—and how you can prepare for the changes it will bring! Read on for the answers to some of our students’ most pertinent questions.
Bill 96 has implications for all English speakers, but especially immigrants who have settled in the province. The bill dictates that residents are only able to access English services if they fall into one of two categories: historic anglophones (we’ll get to what that means in a bit), or immigrants who have been in Quebec less than six months—after which point they’ll be expected to communicate in French.
That has been a particular point of contention for many critics of the bill, who argue that it’s not feasible for immigrants to learn French—for many, a third (or fourth, or fifth) language—to the point of fluency in such a short time—especially in the often large classes the government provides.
The bill also has significant implications for those with school-aged children, given that only the children of the aforementioned historic anglophones will be able to attend English schools.
An historic anglophone, a term that was introduced in 2019, refers to Quebecers whose parents didn’t go to English schools in Quebec themselves (including immigrants and English speakers with a parent who attended French school). Young people who fall outside of this designation must go to a French language school, unless their parents opt for private education.
The bill also puts a cap on the number of students who can attend English CEGEPs, the colleges that students must attend to be eligible for university studies. Some schools have sought to circumvent this particular rule by offering students grade 12 and awarding them Ontario diplomas, which does away with the need for CEGEP as a university prerequisite.
Bill 96 will affect how employers operate in a number of ways. Companies will be required to post job advertisements in an equal manner in French as in other languages, and avoid requiring languages other than French from prospective employees wherever possible. Existing francization requirements for businesses, which previously applied to companies with 50+ employees, will now apply to companies with 25 employees or more, and businesses will have three years to prepare for the introduction of these rules.
For more on how the bill will affect the workplace, see:
Bill 96 is full of a complex series of 200 amendments—only some of which have been summarised here—affecting many facets of life. As always, E-QIP is dedicated to continuing to help our students navigate our changing world (and changing city) with support, guidance and the transformative power of effective language instruction. And keep checking back for more insights into Bill 96 and how it will impact Quebec workers, students and families!