Quebec to amend language laws to require French on all storefronts, signs
Published Tuesday, May 3, 2016 7:14PM EDT
The Quebec government is amending its language laws to ensure that French is featured on all outdoor signs and storefronts.
The proposed changes would help bolster Bill 101 -- the legislation aimed at preserving the French language -- by requiring Quebec stores with English names to display outdoor signs describing the products and services they offer in French.
That means even popular retailers such as Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire will have to add French descriptions to their storefronts.
The provincial government says it’s all part of their efforts to protect the French language in Quebec.
“My wish is that everywhere, commercial signage unequivocally reminds us that we are indeed in Quebec,” Language Minister Hélène David told reporters in Montreal Tuesday, adding that all signage should reflect the “French character” of the province.
In 2014, a group of major retailers including Costco, Old Navy, Best Buy and Walmart won a court battle that granted them a rare exemption from Quebec’s strict language laws for businesses.
The Quebec Board of the French Language, the administrative body in charge of language laws in the province, wanted these companies to translate their names or add a French slogan or description to their signs and storefronts.
The Quebec Superior Court, however, ruled that the presence of English trademark names on Quebec storefronts did not interfere with Bill 101. The Quebec Court of Appeal later upheld the decision.
Under the amended Bill 101, however, those businesses will have to include some kind of French description visible anywhere that the English name can be seen.
If the English name is lit up, the French description will also have to be lit up.
The new rule is expected to cost business owners between $5,000 and $9,000 depending on the size of establishment.
But David said it simply makes good business sense to communicate with clients in the province’s official language.
“It’s very important because we are in Quebec and the people here in Quebec want to see something specific for their own language,” David told reporters on Tuesday.
The proposed changes will be discussed during a 45-day consultation period starting Wednesday, David said.
Business will have three years to comply with the new regulations. Otherwise, they could face fines ranging from $1,500 to $20,000.
With a report from CTV Montreal