Employers must do much more to protect French

The business community, employers’ and trade associations must do their part to protect the French, the CAQ government believes, while Bill 96 should be passed before the summer recess.

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“Protecting the French language, our common language, requires efforts from everyone, including companies and chambers of commerce. It’s a collective responsibility,” Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette’s office said in a written statement sent to the protocol.

This clarification comes at a time when the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce of Montreal (CCMM) believes that strengthening the French language charter, a flagship project of the CAQ government, is making businesspeople nervous.

The Specter of the Restless Exodus

According to an article in The Canadian Press, various organizations including the CCMM believe the law could hurt Quebec’s economy and trigger new business exodus.

When Bill 101 was passed in 1977, companies decided to leave Quebec. The most famous case remains that of Sunlife, which had moved its household to Toronto.

The CCMM, which has been asked to clarify its observations, was not available to comment on the file yesterday. However, the organization released a statement claiming to support “the spirit and goals of the bill.”

However, the chamber expresses reservations about the draft law, in particular “with regard to certain provisions that do not sufficiently take into account the reality of companies”.

The draft law provides for the franchising of SMEs with 25 to 49 employees. Previously, this requirement was for people with 50 or more employees.

Another article would require employers to take all “necessary means” to avoid imposing bilingualism in order to gain access to or retain a job.

The CCMM had been heavily criticized for inviting Air Canada head Michael Rousseau, monolingually Anglophone, to its platform last November.

The airline is also among the organization’s sponsors, as is Canadian National, which has also been slammed for the ubiquity of English in recent weeks.

In the past, Simon Jolin-Barrette and House CEO Michel Leblanc have had heated exchanges over the bill, with the minister accusing the President of “scaring businesses”.

Accompanied by The newspaperanother chamber of commerce, that of Quebec, confirmed that its members currently have “no concerns” about Bill 96.

CFIB fears paperwork

But another organization, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), is disappointed with the process and believes the bill will impose more burdens and costs on SMEs.

“We are not against French and the fact of protecting it. But we require a lot of paperwork from companies with 25 employees and reduce their deadlines. We believe it is very difficult for SMEs, especially in the context of a labor shortage,” said François Vincent, vice-president of the organization.

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