Language Policy in Quebec

Quebec, a province always knorrwn to have a rich history and vibrant clash of cultures, also has a thriving IT industry in the making. 40% of the IT professionals come to Canada go to Quebec, and according to the stats a few years back, Quebec alone doubles any other region in Canada when it comes to incoming AIESEC IT professionals. However, for some people, French Canada is perhaps not the most promising place to stay.

Although bilingualism is an asset to the province, from time to time, it becomes a threat that keeps people away from seeking long settlement there. From Bill 63 in 1969 to the infamous Pastagate incident in 2013, there is always a strong political atmosphere of protecting French culture through the oppression of using English. It has been forty years since Bill 101 was introduced in 1976, and it still has a dominating effect as the usage of French is insisted upon in various aspects of society that incidents like Pastagate still persist.

It is blatantly obvious that English is the most influential language in the today’s world and it promises the greatest ease for interaction on a global scale. Likewise, it is reasonable to assume that most IT professionals have a higher efficiency in using English rather than French, especially when they come from countries that do not use either language as official language(s), in fact, they probably do not speak French at all. Despite the fact that they probably learned English as a second language, their inability to use French will render them as “unilingual” in Quebec, thus become less competitive or even unqualified in the job market. Their professional expertise is secondary in comparison with their language skills and this is a waste of human capital on the province.

The bilingual labeling law also presents a similar issue for many start-up companies in the province. The law requires all products sold in Quebec must be labeled dominantly in French. As a result, start-up companies often have to dedicate time and resources to comply with this aspect of the law instead using them for innovation. To a certain degree, the language policies certainly present a threat for the growth of start-up industries and companies.

Although living in Quebec, or Montreal, is a desirable option for many new-comers; however it is always on the back of their mind that they are seen as invaders of Quebecois or French and that they are not welcomed. Just a few years ago, the government was still trying to introduce the highly controversial Bill 14, who knows for sure that similar policies won’t be implemented in the future?

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