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How Bill 96 will continue to impact English-speaking Québecers in 2023

The 201-article bill targets different aspects of Québecers’ lives: like imposing French-only birth and death certificates and limiting the use of English in the courts. But the province had vowed health care wouldn’t be affected.
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The 'Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Québec', known as Bill 96, which strengthens the provincial French language charter, was passed in the National Assembly in May and officially became law on June 1.

How will it continue to impact English-speaking Québecers in 2023 and beyond?

“The worst is to come because there are whole sections of Bill 96 that have not come into force yet,” said Marlene Jennings, vice chair of the Foundation for Black Communities.

“The law is being implemented in phases, and I think many of the bigger concerns are down the line,” added, Eva Ludwig, president of the English rights lobby group Québec Community Groups Network. “What is going to happen to our system, for instance? The impact of employment for teachers and the impact on the extra courses, the caps on the English-speaking CEGEPs, what does that mean for their vitality?”

The 201-article bill targets different aspects of Québecers’ lives: like imposing French-only birth and death certificates and limiting the use of English in the courts. But the province had vowed health care wouldn’t be affected.

In May, thousands took to the streets of Montreal, namely anglophones, to denounce the effects of the bill.

“I believe it sent a message,” said Ludwig. “I think it had an effect, obviously not the kind of effect that we want.”

“When Bill 96 pre-emptively used the notwithstanding clause to suspend the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the federal government turned around, amended their Bill C-13 to modernize the Official Languages Act, referred to the charter of the French language several times,” said Jennings. “Having done that, they’re explicitly supporting Québec’s pre-emptive use of the notwithstanding clause to suspend our charter rights.”

Jean-François Roberge, the minister responsible for the French language, says he has no plans to soften the bill and many are awaiting to see what 2023 will bring.

“I think there will be continued anxiety,” said Ludwig. “We certainly have to keep and will continue to fight and we will see how the new minister will react and whether there is some opening to really understanding and making things less difficult for our community.”

“I think that we’re going to see a lot of court challenges as sections of the new charter of the French language come into play and are actually applied,” Jennings said. “We’re going to see more people not being able to access their right, a particular service in a language other than French.”

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