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Office quebecois de la langue anglaise

OQLA is a not for profit organization made up of volunteers who are concerned about the
slow and methodical disappearance of the English language in Quebec.


Quebec's language law to be extended to daycare

QUEBEC — Immigrants to Quebec who want to send their children to daycare will soon have to find a French-language centre, says the province's family minister.

The measure will be part of legislation to be tabled this fall that is aimed at toughening Bill 101, Nicole Leger told The Canadian Press.

"Bill 101 is going to be changed," Leger said.

"I will have plenty of support as family minister to make sure it also extends to daycares."

Quebec has various types of child-care centres and it is not immediately clear whether the new legislation will apply to all of them.

However, later in the day, Karine Doyon, a press aide to Leger, said the minister's priority is to find a spot for every child and she refused to discuss the Bill 101 comment.

And both the opposition Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec refused to comment on the matter.

There are about 1,000 Centres de la petite enfance in the province, and another 600 private subsidized daycares in addition to many private unsubsidized centres. Currently, Quebec's language law doesn't apply to most of the daycare network.


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Adolescent Assaulted for Speaking English in Public

For Immediate Release - September 24th 2012 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada (le français suite la version anglaise)

Adolescent Assaulted for Speaking English in Public
OQLA Calls for Federal Government Protection for Minority Language Rights after Recent Incidents

We have recently witnessed an escalation in language-based discrimination that has steadily resurfaced, prior to and after the election of the Parti Québécois (PQ) earlier this month, directed towards Montrealers speaking English.

We have seen videos of several incidents of verbal harassment,even in front of McGill University. Now we see something new. On the evening of Sept 22nd, around 9pm, Mr. G., aged 17, was walking around the block with his cousins in St-Leonard, Montreal. When he and his four cousins turned the corner, they came face to face with a young adult male holding a mobile phone who stated to them â??what are you looking at, youâ??re not allowed to speak English hereâ?? (quâ??est que tu regardes, tâ??as pas le droit de parler en anglais icite) forcing himself onto them. Mr. G. ignored the statement, pushed the man away so they could continue walking, then the man proceeded to assault G. with two punches to his face â?? all this for simply speaking with his cousins in English. Although they were in a group, the male proceeded to reach into his pocket for something; so the group fled the scene to avoid a confrontation.

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Editorial: For service in English, please take this language test

Montreal -- Customer-service agents at the provincial health-insurance board, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec, are now expected to do more than dispense information.
A new policy in effect at the agency requires employees who answer calls from the public to judge people’s language skills as well as answering questions they might have about matters relating to their health care.
Where before callers were given the option of service in English or French by way of a simple touch of the telephone keypad, it has now become more complicated. Now some people who would prefer to have the information given in English could be denied the service on the basis of a subjective judgment of their ability to speak French.
The way it works now is that calls to RAMQ are answered automatically in French, and callers are told that the agency first communicates with its clientele in French. Only after half a minute of silence is it mentioned that service in English is available by pressing 9. But wait: that doesn’t automatically get you service in English.
What it gets you is another recorded message, this time in English, informing you once more that the board prefers to deal with customers in French. The agents who subsequently come on the line do not speak English right away, even though the language of service chosen is English. No, the agents proceed in French, and are then required by the new policy to “use their judgment” to determine whether the caller speaks French well enough to be able to hold a conversation about health in French rather than English. Only if the caller fails that test will service in English be forthcoming.
The health-insurance board maintains that the policy is nothing more than an initiative to fully comply with the province’s French-first language policy. However, even under that policy it has long been acknowledged that anglophone Quebecers have a right to education and to health care in their own language, even though delivery of such service has been grudging and spotty in too many instances.
Officials at RAMQ seem to have forgotten former premier Lucien Bouchard’s words some years ago, when he said in a speech at an English community event: “When you go to the hospital and you’re in pain, you need a blood test, but you certainly don’t need a language test.” True, most callers to the health-insurance board are probably not in pain, but they are concerned with matters of health. And even if they are reasonably conversant in French, they may not be familiar with medical terminology. This would apply particularly to seniors, the age group in greatest need of health-care services.
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Editorial: The CRTC should grant an exemption for TSN 990


This is turning out to be a brutal summer for English-language media in Montreal.

The city’s two alternative weekly papers, first Hour Community (formerly Hour) and then the Montreal Mirror, were shut down in rapid succession.

Now it appears that the city is destined to lose its English-language, all-sports radio station, TSN 990. What is doubly galling in the case of the radio station is that it is falling victim not to economic considerations, as was the case with the newspapers, but rather to niggling bureaucratic regulation.

The AM station has undergone a number of permutations over the years. Formerly known as CKGM, it has gone from a Top 40 hits format to golden oldies to all-news-and-talk before settling into its present all-sports format in 2001. True, it is the lowest ranked of the city’s five English-language radio stations in terms of listenership, but it has been holding its own with top-flight on-air personalities, such as Mitch Melnick and Randy Tieman, and a devoted following of sports fans.

The station got a sustaining boost when it was bought by corporate heavyweight Bell Media in 2007 and was poised last fall to solidify its position after securing broadcast rights to Montreal Canadiens games. However, the acquisition by Bell is now looking to be its undoing.

The “problem,” such as it is, is that Bell now wants to extend its local radio holdings with a bid to buy Astral Media’s local English-language radio holdings, which include CJAD 800 on the AM dial and FM stations CHOM 97.7 and Virgin 96. Bell’s application will be heard in September in Montreal. Such an acquisition would, however, put it afoul of a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rule that limits a single owner’s radio holdings to three stations in a market with fewer than eight commercial stations. This applies to Montreal’s English radio market, which has five such stations.

Bell had asked the CRTC to make an exception to the concentration rule, but the federal regulator refused. Thus Bell now proposes to transform TSN 990 into a French-language all-sports station, RDS 990, to conform to the CRTC regulation while moving Canadiens broadcasts to CJAD.

This is all very unfortunate – and unnecessary, too. True, the city is currently without a French-language all-sports radio station serving the majority population, but there should be nothing to stop anyone from starting one up or converting an existing French-language station to serve such demand. There had been such a station (CKAC), but it switched to an all-weather-and-traffic format last year. (Here, too, government interference played a determinant role, in that the station owners were enticed to make the switch by a $1.5-million subsidy from the provincial government.)

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Montreal radio personality, Ted Bird joined the Team 990 on May 18. TSN Radio Montreal will become a French-language sports section, pending approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.


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Editorial: The sign law: a little sensitivity could go a long way


When Quebec’s French Language Charter took effect 35 years ago, one of its goals was to transform the physical face of Montreal.

The province’s biggest city would, under the new legislation, look French.

Street signs and directions and public announcements would be in French, and so would store signs. When Montrealers walked down Ste. Catherine St. to shop, they would no longer be in any doubt that this is a city whose main language is French.

But Ste. Catherine St. today is not quite the French experience the drafters of Bill 101 had hoped for. Walking past stores called Banana Republic, Roots, Aldo, American Eagle Outfitters, Zara, French Connection, Foot Locker and Old Navy, a shopper might have no idea that Montreal is supposed to be a French-first city.

The government has promised that this will change, and promptly. The Office québécois de la langue française, the charter’s enforcement arm, last month began mailing warnings to dozens of companies, telling them they will be fined between $1,500 and $20,000 and their francization certificate revoked if they fail to comply with language-charter regulations.

The office says these regulations require businesses to add a “generic” French description to their company name – for instance, “quincaillerie” to Home Depot, or “magasin” to Canadian Tire.

The agency said this week it is turning to sterner measures because there is little to show for its campaign urging companies to voluntarily add French to their commercial signs. (Some companies have complied – for instance Second Cup, which has added “Les Cafés” to its signs, and Starbucks, which in Quebec is “Café Starbucks Coffee.”)

Office spokesperson Martin Bergeron told the National Post that the issue of commercial signs is important in Quebec “to show that the linguistic landscape here is different.” But there lies the rub. Few cities in the world have proved immune to the forces of globalization, and one of the forms globalization takes is the proliferation of the same stores in cities everywhere. Zara, Gap and French Connection have become ubiquitous. They’re in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Nairobi, Paris, London, New York and Montreal. Their commercial signs are their trademarks. As trademarks, they look the same wherever they are. This is what Quebec says must change.

Major Canadian retailers with outlets in Quebec have said they will fight to keep their trademark signs. The Retail Council of Canada’s vice-president for Quebec, Nathalie St-Pierre, says the council has received legal advice that there is no requirement under Bill 101 for companies with English brands to add French descriptions on their signs. Obviously businesses would rather not go to the expense of changing signs, stationery and other business items if it is not necessary.

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Office quebecois de la langue anglaise
PO Box 32513
2445 Lucerne Rd

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OQLA is a not for profit organization made up of volunteers who are concerned about the slow and methodical disappearance of the English language in Quebec. Our primary objectives are to preserve and promote the English language within the province, to ensure that the English language does not become extinct in Quebec, and to make sure that companies provide bilingual signage in accordance with the language laws of Quebec.