Officially established in June 2022, Bill 96 was established as a strategy to protect the French language. The CAQ government believes that this law will increase the use of French throughout the province.
The OQLF (Office Québécoise de la Langue Française) is responsible for language policing to ensure rules are being followed throughout the province. The organization is permitted to seize documents from any institution that is suspected of not respecting these rules. They are more equipped to answer complaints about organizations not following the language laws properly.
The law is starting to trouble some businesses as it is now necessary to have private meetings, product labels and all communication in french. Fines up to 3,000$ to 30,000$ will be given to each establishment that does not follow these conditions. Individual people that do not follow the language law can be fined 700$ to 7,000$. If English is needed in the workplace, it must be officially justified and approved by the OQLF. These rules apply to businesses that have 25 or more employees.
Language laws are also changing for immigrants. According to the legislation, newcomers will receive government communications in French 6 months after their arrival. Government research shows that it takes 8-9 months of extensive studying to master the language.
Healthcare and social services
In terms of healthcare and social services, documents and oral communication between medical professionals must be done in French. This does not include English institutions, namely, the McGill University Health Center, Jewish General Hospital and Montreal General Hospital. The Quebec administration, for its part, maintains that Bill 96 should not impair a person’s ability to get, for instance, sufficient medical treatment. The specifics of what that entails, though, remain unclear.
As for judges, they are no longer required to be bilingual. Courtroom decisions and legal documents, such as birth and death certificates need to be in French.
There is also a lot of change in the education system, especially in CEGEPs. Anglophone students, meaning those who have done their secondary education in English have to take 3 extra French courses along with the 2 that were already in place. This means that students may have to take an extra semester or intersession courses to be able to finish that. Those who wish to apply to law school or medical school worry that this may jeopardize their chances of getting accepted into these university programs. In addition, a 17.5% cap in the enrolment of French high school students to English CEGEPS has been put in place, which will prioritize the acceptance of Anglophone students.
No specific exemption was made for the indigenous community. This will deeply affect their children’s education and may even set them up for failure, as their education system is already tough without legislation. It could crush all efforts to revitalize the Indigenous language, pushing re-colonization.
Some fear that this legislation may cost companies millions in the adaptation to this law, stunt children’s education, insult the indigenous communities and prevent basic needs like a diagnosis from a doctor that everyone can understand.
The Liberal party asks other opposing parties and the CAQ to reverse the mandate that forces CEGEP students to take 3 French core classes in English CEGEPs. They believe that this may fail Anglophone students.