Since the 1970s, the issue of the language rights 96 Quebec bill has been one of the most controversial in the Canadian province of Quebec. About four decades have passed since the provincial government of Quebec approved Bill 101, sometimes known as the Charter of the French Language in Quebec.
This language legislation of Quebec attempted to establish an act respecting French as the province’s official language in daily areas (such as the government, schools, courthouses, and companies) by imposing several linguistic criteria on anyone who used such spaces.
On the other hand, the local government services of Quebec have recently approved the 96 Quebec Bill, officially known as An Act respecting French as Quebec’s official and common language. This bill would include new amendments to the Charter’s preexisting legal provisions.
Read on to learn more about the 96 Quebec Bill, including what it is, when it will go into effect, what changes will have the most significant influence on your organization, and how to approach it so that you can determine how it could affect your company.
1. What is Bill 96 of Quebec?
96 Quebec bill, often known as the Quebec, French Language Act, is a piece of legislation that would significantly revise Bill 101. In particular, Bill 96 modifies the wording of several rules in the Charter relating to the use of the French language in various contexts, including but not limited to the workplace, schools, publications, businesses, markets, and the judicial system.
The purpose of these modifications to Quebec’s language laws and other languages is to provide greater clarity regarding the linguistic requirements that must be met by citizens, students, customers, workers, employment contracts, insurance contracts, consumer contracts, businesses, and government officials who reside in, are employed by, or attend school in the province of Quebec in Canada.
2. What Does the 96 Quebec Bill Want to Do?
With an expansion of the linguistic requirements specified in Bill 101, the goal of Bill 96 is to, according to its proponents, “reinforce and deepen” the use of French in the province of Quebec. Mr. Simon Jolin-Barrette, the guy responsible for initiating the proposal, said that “Bill 96” is to “promote the French language, safeguard the French language…”
Supporters of these proposed amendments expect that by putting them into effect, French will be recognized as Quebec’s sole official French language in a manner that is both more formal and uniform.
3. Outline of Official French Language Law
3.1. Assistance to Customers (Sections 41 and 114)
Customers doing business with a company in Quebec have the right to be informed and serviced in French by that company, regardless of whether they are private individuals or businesses.
Websites, brochures, catalogues, booklets, and call centers are all included in this category. Businesses and Quebec consumers who consider this right has been infringed may submit an injunction to demand that they be served in French. The only exception is if the respective company has less than five workers, in which case the injunction cannot be filed.
3.2. Employment Documents (Section 29)
Employers in Quebec must provide a certified French translation of job-related papers, including but not limited to transfer offers, promotion paperwork, employment agreements, applications, and training documentation. This includes interactions with workers’ organizations, individual workers, the whole or a portion of the workforce, and past employees of the company.
3.3. Inscriptions: Packaging & Labelling (Section 42)
Inscriptions on products, such as labels, instructions, and warranties, must be written in French. Alternatively, businesses must provide a French version in addition to the material written in a language other than French.
Suppose a language other than French is used on an inscription. That text version cannot be given greater prominence or made accessible on more advantageous conditions than the French original.
3.4. Increased Scope of Responsibility for OQLF (Sections 111 and 112)
The new language standards established by Bill 96 are to be enforced by the Quebec Board of the French Language (OQLF), an agency of the Quebec government. Now, this department can:
- Perform investigations to determine whether or not companies are adhering to the linguistic standards outlined in Bill 96.
- You have the authority to access any place at any reasonable time (except private homes) where activities governed by Bill 96 are being undertaken out or where paperwork and property related to Bill 96 are being held. However, you are not permitted to enter private homes.
- Take images of the places and things being inspected while those things are being inspected. During inspections, it may be necessary to access t is pertinent to the enforcement of Bill 96d is held on electronic devices, computers, or other storage utter to validate, analyze, process, copy, or print the data. You may request a Superior Court of Quebec judge to seek an injunction concerning Bill 96.
3.5. Noncompliance Penalties (section 114)
Businesses that do not comply with the criteria of Bill 96 are subject to fines ranging from $3,000 to $30,000. In addition, the penalty will increase by a factor of three for any further infractions after the first one.
If actions of noncompliance continue for more than one day, each day they are carried out constitutes a new violation of the law. Additional potential repercussions of failing to comply include the government of Quebec suspending or revoking any permissions or certifications issued to a particular company.
A court in Quebec has the authority to rule that exterior commercial advertising (such as posters, signs, advertisements, and billboards) that does not comply with the requirements of the 96 Quebec bill for public signage and commercial advertising must be removed or destroyed, and the relevant business must bear the cost of doing so.
4. Date of Entry into Force: September 1, 2022
4.1. Arguments Presented in Court (Section 5)
Petitioners in Quebec courts are required to file pleadings either written in French or supported by a certified translation of the document into French. If the petition is not written in French, it must be accompanied by a translation.
The party that is filing the petition is the one that is responsible for paying the costs associated with the translation. In accordance with the legislation that was passed in Quebec in the year 1996, in order for a person to be referred to as a “certified translator,” they are required to be members of the Quebec Order of Certified Translators, Terminologists, and Interpreters (OTTIAQ). This obligation will be upheld even if all the parties prefer to conduct the proceeding in English.
5. Date of Entry into Force: June 1, 2023
5.1. Contracts Bind Businesses (Sections 44 and 114)
Contracts of adhesion and any other relevant agreements must first be drafted in French and made available in that language. Contracts for insurance, leases, employment agreements, collective bargaining agreements, and declarations of co-ownership are some examples of legal agreements.
The party signing the agreement can request to have the contract drafted in another language only after being presented with a French version. First, the party signing the contract must be obligated to the non-French contract before any other papers relating to the agreement may be written only in the language of the signatory’s choice. Any contracts that breach the guidelines above are considered invalid.
There are a few exceptions to this general rule, such as contracts for loans and other financial instruments, as well as contracts that emerge from extra-provincial relationships. Yet, they are not typical outcomes; rather, they are outliers.
5.2. Regarding Government Contracts (Sections 14 and 114)
Contracts with the government of Quebec must, with very few exceptions, be written entirely in French; otherwise, they risk being declared null and invalid. This outcome is possible regardless of whether or not any losses were incurred due to the breach.
5.3. The Government’s Written Documentation (Section 14)
When a person or company wants to apply for permission, authorization, subsidy, financial support, or anything else from the government of Quebec, they must provide written papers in French only. These documents might be for any purpose.
5.4. Supplying Goods and Services (Clause 14)
New regulations governing product packaging and labelling must be adhered to by any goods the provincial government of Quebec buys under a supply contract.
The language requirement for services acquired by government agencies and intended for government personnel in Quebec stipulates that the services must be provided in French. Nonetheless, services geared toward the general public may also be provided in languages outside of French.
If French-labeled items or services based on French cannot be provided within the specified time frame, Bill 96 does allow exceptions to this requirement.
6. Date of Entry into Force: June 1, 2025
6.1. Packaging and Labelling (Sections 47 and 48)
In the province of Quebec, all trademarks, including common law, pending, and unregistered trademarks must be translated into French on the product packaging and labelling.
Nevertheless, trademarks registered by the Federal Trademarks Act are excluded from this requirement since the French version of the Act has not been registered.
Whenever a registered trademark uses words or descriptions of a product that are not French, the terms or descriptions must be translated into French and included elsewhere on the product, or a permanent support mechanism must be provided for French speakers.
6.2. Concerning the Franchising of Businesses Operating (Sections 76 and 94)
- Businesses located in Quebec that employ 25 or more people are legally obligated to register with the OQLF and conform with the Francization obligation.
- This requirement stipulates that French must be the principal language spoken inside the organization. Communication encompasses all internal and external communication, technological tools, work papers, internal networks, and software.
- Firms registering with the OQLF must examine their organization’s language practices within three months.
- If they succeed in the inspection, they will be given a certificate and required to report their francization progress once every three years.
- If, on the other hand, a company is found to be non-compliant, it is required to finish and submit a francization program to the OQLF within three months and report on the program once every year.
- In addition, the corporation is obligated to keep workers informed and disclose information about the program’s execution.
- The OQLF publishes a list of organizations with their registration certificates or francization either rejected, suspended, or revoked.
- Organizations that employ more than one hundred people are obliged to establish a francization committee and confer with the OQLF about the selection process for committee members.
- Should they think it essential, the OQLF also has the authority to require businesses with between 25 and 99 workers to establish a francization committee.
- It is required that committee meetings occur at least once every six months, that minutes be taken at each meeting and given to all committee members, and that a list of all committee members be made available to the firm’s workers.
7. What Kind of Implications Does Bill 96 Have for Businesses?
While the measure seeks to encourage the use of French and safeguard Quebec’s language and culture, it might also provide considerable difficulties for employers, especially those who work in multilingual settings. To achieve compliance with the new language standards, employers may need to modify their policies and procedures, which could include investing more money and resources in language training and other projects.
Because of the amendment made by the 96 Quebec bill, businesses and other organizations have a significant amount of work store to ensure they meet all new standards. Companies will be expected to, among other things, guarantee that their Quebec consumers and business clients are serviced and supported in French, that the majority of contact in the workplace takes place in French, and that they deliver written documentation in French when it is required of them.
Failing to comply with regulations may be very harmful, not only to your business’s bottom line in the form of hefty penalties but also to your firm’s reputation if it results in the loss of certifications and licenses. Hence, doing business in Quebec or with Quebec without the assistance of a team with high fluency in French may prove an expensive and high-risk effort.
7.1. How Does Bill 96 Impact Employers?
Bill 96, also known as An Act Respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec, is a proposed legislation in Quebec, Canada that aims to strengthen the use of French in the province. The bill’s implementation and enforcement, as well as its effects on employers and the larger Quebec business community, are still to be seen.
It is evident that the measure represents a fundamental change in Quebec’s stance on language and may have broad ramifications for businesses and other stakeholders there. Employers will need to keep up with any changes relating to the bill and take the necessary steps to ensure that the new language requirements are followed. The bill has several provisions that could impact employers in Quebec in the following ways:
- Language requirements: Bill 96 would require employers to use French as the main language of work and communication in certain situations. For instance, unless that willingness to accept to use another language, companies would be obligated to use French in all internal communications, including as emails, memos, and meetings.
- Language proficiency: According to the proposed legislation, companies would have to make sure that their staff members were proficient in French enough to carry out their job responsibilities. This can necessitate hiring workers who are fluent in French or requiring firms to offer language training to their staff.
- Business names: Businesses would have to have a French name in addition to any other languages they may use under Bill 96. This implies that companies having non-French names would have to change them to something French or add a French adjective to their current name.
- Penalties: The bill suggests fines or other consequences in the event that the linguistic standards are not followed.
Overall, Bill 96 could have significant implications for employers in Quebec, particularly those that operate in industries that require a high degree of bilingualism. Employers may need to adjust their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the new language requirements, which could require additional resources and investments in language training and other initiatives.
As could be anticipated, there have been various responses to the 96 Quebec bill, which is to be expected. As the province of Quebec begins its progressive roll-out of the 96 Quebec bill over the next several years, another thing that should be anticipated is an increased response to this bill. In point of fact, according to one source, companies all around the province of Quebec will experience the new effects of Bill 96 when various provisions of the legislation are put into effect one at a time until June 2025.
Because the amendments brought about by the 96 Quebec bill will have a significant effect on anyone and everyone who resides in Quebec, consumers, businesses, and immigrants alike must pay close attention to how this law continues to impact day-to-day life for those who live in the province until then and even after that date.
Finally, Bill 96 is a piece of legislation that is being considered that aims to promote the usage of French in Quebec, Canada. Several aspects of the bill could have an effect on Quebec employers, especially those who work in fields where a high level of bilingualism is necessary. Employers would be required to have a French name in addition to any other languages used, use French as the primary language of work and communication in certain circumstances, provide services to their clients in French, ensure that their staff members have a sufficient level of French proficiency to carry out their job duties and more.
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