'Breaking point': Studies find French language is on the decline in Quebec
"When French retreats in Quebec, all of Quebec retreats," said Simon Jolin-Barrette in a statement reflecting on the projected decline of French in Quebec. (File Photo) THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
QUEBEC CITY -- Two new studies have found that French is on the decline in Quebec.
As the language used at home, French is expected to decline steadily over the next few years in favour of English, according to projections made public Monday by the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF).
In the workplace, a similar trend was found, with English being required more often: one in two Quebecers -- even two out of three in Montreal -- regularly uses English or a language other than French at work.
The findings are likely to influence Simon Jolin-Barrette’s plan to protect the French language, who is expected to present a reform to Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, Bill 101, later in the spring.
In a statement, the minister said “the data clearly illustrate the decline of French and show that we are facing a breaking point in Montreal.”
“This is a serious moment and we must act to stop this decline. When French retreats in Quebec, all of Quebec retreats,” he said.
“I invite all Quebecers to mobilize and make the necessary efforts to change the situation.”
Projections from Statistics Canada suggest Quebecers will speak less French in the future, from 82 per cent of people in 2011 to around 75 per cent in 2036.
English is expected to become more common, from 11 per cent in 2011, to about 13 per cent in 2036.
Quebec is also expected to undergo significant demographic changes, which will have an impact on languages used.
By 2036, native French speakers are likely to make up about 71 per cent of the population, down from 79 in 2011.
That being said, between 74 and 76 per cent of people are still expected to speak French at home, though that's still lower than the recorded 82 per cent in 2011.
In another study conducted in 2018, which focused on workplaces, one in four people said they use French and English equally on the job, and 18.7 per cent said they used French more often.
Still in Montreal, two out of three French-speaking workers regularly use English at work, a proportion that climbs to 72.8 per cent among allophones, who’s mother tongue is neither English nor French.
- This report from the Canadian Press was first published on March 29, 2021