The upcoming adoption of Quebec’s common language bill is making the business community nervous, wondering what the costs will be for business.
Posted yesterday at 2:55 pm.
Bill 96 would impose stricter regulations for small businesses and federally regulated businesses such as banks and telecommunications. It must be approved before the summer holidays.
Tens of thousands of companies are no longer exempt from the French language charter.
In particular, the bill provides for franchising to all companies with at least 25 employees. So far, this measure concerns only companies with at least 50 employees. It grants new powers to the Office of the French Language (OLF) which can investigate any internal complaints or complaints from the public. OLF may require the formation of a franchising committee in a company of 25 to 100 employees.
One article will require employers to take “reasonable means” to avoid imposing the requirement of knowledge of a language other than French to gain or retain a position. The current charter allows an employer to do so if “the performance of the task requires such knowledge.”
Various employers or trade associations fear that future law will harm the economy, and are betting on exports. They fear a new corporate exodus.
“Companies in Quebec must be able to hire bilingual employees and provide English-language services to their overseas clients,” comments Michel LeBlanc, President and CEO of the Council of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.
We want companies to be able to identify when they need to hire bilingual employees.
Michel LeBlanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
The bill would also require the use of French in the drafting of certain documents, such as employment contracts.
“This is unreasonable. Many Quebec companies trade with other companies around the world,” adds Mr. Leblanc, who understands that French need to be protected in some way.
More and more companies want to hire students, many of whom come from outside the country. Some may remain even after graduation. He said that the door would be slammed in their face because they did not speak proper French.
OFL estimates the number of companies with 25 to 49 employees to be around 20,000.
Companies also fear potential legal disputes that law enforcement might raise.
At present, failure to comply with the charter leads to negotiations between the offending company and OFL. Bell 96 changes the process.
“Any Quebec citizen who believes that a company that has not respected his rights under the French language charter can take legal action,” said Alexandre Fallon, partner at the Osler law firm in Montreal. Even if an agreement is reached with the regulator, private lawsuits can be filed. »
Interaction with customer service, an invoice, a brochure, a packaging, a menu, or an advertisement can all be the basis for a lawsuit.
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Various groups, such as the Retail Council of Quebec, Manufacturers and Exporters of Quebec or the Canadian Council of Innovators, are asking the Quebec government to relax some of the rules, particularly with regard to French.
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