What is Quebec’s Bill 96?
The Act, officially known as “An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec,” or more commonly as Bill 96, recognized French as the common language of the province. It is an amendment to the Charter of the French Language aimed at protecting and strengthening French as the official language through provisions to promote it in the province’s Business, Education and commerce.
The Bill has been in effect since June 2022.
How the Bill impacts business life in Quebec
Some important amendments introduced by the Bill include:
- A requirement for Quebec businesses to service customers in both French and English without favouring one over the other
- Companies with 25-49 or 50-99 employees are to use French at all levels of their companies, along with a francization committee for French language learning if deemed necessary.
- All Contracts of adhesion, like insurance policies, contracts, terms of service, etc., must be initially presented in French before any other version is drawn up in a different language.
- Employers must ensure that their staff’s employment application forms, related and training documents are available in French.
- Additionally, all public government contracts are to be drafted exclusively in French; a version in another language may be attached as required.
How Quebec’s Bill 96 Impacts Education
Due to the Bill’s emphasis on the French language, only children fulfilling special conditions can receive English schooling within the province. These include children who:
- Reside in Quebec permanently and qualify for a certificate of eligibility to receive instruction in English.
- Reside in Quebec permanently and are entitled to receive instruction in English under a special authorization. This clause includes children with serious learning disabilities or who face a serious family or humanitarian situation.
- Live in Quebec temporarily and have Temporary authorization to receive instruction in English, including:
- Children or dependents of foreign nationals who hold an employment or student authorization issued in accordance with the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
- Children or dependents of foreign nationals who hold a Quebec certificate of acceptance or are exempted from having such a certificate or authorization.
- Dependent children of Canadian citizens or permanent residents domiciled in another Canadian province temporarily living in Quebec for study or work.
Duration of a Temporary Authorization to receive instruction in English after the passing of Bill 96
A temporary authorization is valid for three years only (previously six).
Opposition to the Bill and its impact on immigration
In an opinion piece for the Montreal Gazette, Marnie Stein, the Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS) president, drew attention to the shortened duration for temporary permits and its impact on children and parents.
She stated that many students on temporary permits were enrolled prior to the passing of the Bill, and the shortened timelines will negatively impact the stability of their academic lives. Since the move, many member schools of the QAIS have experienced a decline in applications, and families have considered leaving the province altogether.
The article also mentioned that the only remedy for most parents was to apply for exemptions to the law, and the QAIS urged “empathy” from officials when reviewing these requests as well as a delay in the implementation of the limits or to allow the renewal of the 3-year temporary permits for children of foreign nationals.
Recent developments and the Quebec Association of Independent School’s (QAIS) stance
Recently, up to 20 students on temporary permits to study in English in Quebec were denied permit renewals in what the QAIS termed a misinterpretation of the law by bureaucrats.
The organization urged the government to allow exemptions on humanitarian grounds for these students along with appeals for the education minister to consider more lenient measures for Grade 10 and 11 students who had reached their three-year limit and, according to the Bill- must switch to French schools.