Quebec businesses will require French descriptors
Published Tuesday, May 3, 2016 6:00PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 8, 2016 11:18AM EDT
The Quebec government is targeting outdoor store signs in a move to bolster regulations on signage.
The province is going to change regulations to require stores with English brand names to display more French on their outdoor signs.
Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire will be required to add French descriptions.
The government’s exact words were, 'We want French to jump out so people know they're in Quebec.'
In 2014, stores including Wal-Mart and Best Buy won a court battle with the province over signs.
The OQLF wanted the companies with English trademarks like Canadian Tire to have some sort of descriptor so that people would know what they were selling.
Two courts ruled in favour of the retailers, saying they were not violating the sign law, so the Liberal government has decided it has no choice but to amend the regulations, although it is not modifying Bill 101.
All businesses – not just stores, but restaurants, hotels, and companies – will have to have some type of French descriptor on anywhere the English name can be seen from outside.
If the English trademark name is illuminated, the French description will also be required to be illuminated.
The government estimates this will cost companies anywhere from $500 to $9,000.
Language minister Helene David said it simply makes good business sense to ensure the majority of clients feel welcomed.
“It's very important, because we are in Quebec and the people here in Quebec want to see something specific for their own language, so we see Supercentre Wal-Mart, they feel that they are incorrect. They are not in Maine, they are not in the state of New York, so they feel that they are in Quebec, where the French language is the official language,” said David.
Sylvia Martin-Laforge of Quebec Community Groups Network said the English language rights groups have more pressing concerns.
“Some people might not feel great about this, but in our network, they are more worried about signs in hospitals and things that have a relevance to their everyday kind of personal activity in this province,” she said. “If they have good customer service and they are treated well in getting strips in English, if they don't speak French, that's of more importance to most people than what they do on the outside of a sign.”
Businesses will have three years to comply, or else they could be sanctioned under the French language charter and face fines ranging from $1,500 to $20,000.