Bill 14 not strong enough, say language advisors
The official advisors for Quebec on linguistic matters say the province is not doing enough to promote the French language, even if every measure in Bill 14 is passed.
In a report released Wednesday, the The Conseil superieur de la langue francaise, the official advisory body for the Minister of Language, said it has no doubt that the use of French is declining in Quebec. In fact, it said everyone in the province, including native francophones, would do well to brush up on their French language skills.
"The level of literacy in Quebec is pretty low in general," said Winston Chan.
The bureaucrats say the quality of French spoken by anglophones is of particular concern, and generally not good enough to let them work in Quebec.
"One of the challenges for English students... is the immersion skills are lower and we see that difficulty in the workplace later on," said Chan.
Bill 101 badly needs updating, said the CSLF.
“Now there are new challenges. New immigrants, and allophones taking their place in our society. We have to make sure that French is the language of social cohesion,” he said.
The council says immigrants in particular need help with their French, with classes tailored to bolster immigrants in their chosen professions. Small businesses need to be supported and educated.
The council says many companies still require bilingualism even though it's almost always illegal to do so, and immigrants are getting mixed signals.
“Come here and learn French. You will get a good job and you will have a good career. If they go to the workplace and we ask them more and more to work in English, that's a problem,” said Robert Vezina of the CSLF.
The CSLF's report says it firmly supports Bill 14's measure to require the use of French at all companies with between 26 and 50 people, saying the number of companies where French is used 90 per cent of the time is declining.
Across Quebec, nearly 65 per cent of small businesses speak French all the time, even though it is not required by law. More than 55 per cent of large companies do the same.
The report includes a chart indicating that the percentage of Quebec private companies using French 90 per cent of the time peaked in 1989, and has dropped ever since.
According to the chart, 45 per cent of all companies in Montreal used French 90 per cent of the time in 1989, and by 2010 that number had dropped to about 32 per cent.
The report indicates that on the island of Montreal, 183,000 people worked for small companies in 2008.
The numbers were taken from a sampling of 6,500 people in Quebec, 2,368 of which worked in private companies. In Montreal, the equivalent sampling was 1,286.
The CSLF says it is clear that while English is becoming increasingly important for companies wishing to do business outside Quebec, that is not the sole reason for the decrease in the use of French in the workplace.
However, it says the increase of bilingualism in the workplace is something that should be discouraged if Quebec is to maintain its status as a province where the language of the majority is French.