Saturday, January 11, 2014


Germany's Past
Quebec's Future
Something the federal government, the rest of Canada, and anyone thinking of doing business, investing, or vacationing in Quebec, should know!

CJAD News: 
EXCLUSIVE: Quebec businesses cut off from service in English
Provincial government rolls out new language policy
The provincial government is telling all its ministries and agencies to not communicate in English with businesses or organizations established in Quebec.
The policy is still in the roll-out phase, though some government bodies have already adopted it.
"The administration is to use French exclusively with institutions and businesses established in Quebec," says the 2011 provincial policy paper that the Charest government used to first launch the initiative.
The province's old policy, written in 1996, said the government could respond to companies in English if they were first addressed in that language.
It also once said that meetings with Quebec-based organizations should "generally" take place in French. The new policy says meetings must take place in French.
"I'm hoping that we would have been consulted on this policy," says Sylvia Martin-Laforge, says the director general the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN), the umbrella group representing English organizations across the province. "They should not be doing this behind closed doors."
"No wonder people are upset and discouraged and feel disenfranchised," she says.
While it is difficult to measure how many small businesses or self-employed Anglophones will be effected by the move, hundreds of small companies are listed with CEDEC, an organization that focuses on supporting English-speaking entrepreneurs.
The province's new language policy also includes a number of other measures. For example, it tells the administration that it should avoid translating the entirety of government websites into English.
Attempts to obtain a comment from the language minister's office were not successful.
However, Christine St-Pierre, who was in that office when the policy was first launched, says her government was reacting to complaints.
"They [businesses] have to contact the government in French and they have to communicate with the government in French if they want to do business with the government," she says.
Ministries and organizations have been told to re-write their own internal language policies to reflect the government directive.
Many, such as the Medicare board (RAMQ), Revenue Quebec and Service Quebec, told CJAD they have not yet finalized their revisions, though some of the provincial policies may have already been put into practice.
The Justice Ministry says its old policy remains unchanged: companies who correspond in English can still get a response in that language. A spokesperson says the ministry has re-read its former language policy and believes its practices already fall in line with the provincial directive.
The SAAQ, in the meantime, has added to the provincial order. The auto insurance board's new guidelines say questions or comments they receive in English on social media should only be answered in French.
The SAAQ says this is to ensure consistency since not all of their employees speak English.
Quebec-based businesses will not have access to English-language SAAQ forms anymore, and any forms that go to companies outside of Quebec must be stamped with "for companies without a Quebec address" to ensure that Quebec businesses do not use them.
The new SAAQ policy also says safety campaigns and information for compensating accident victims must be in French when distributed to hospitals and schoolboards, as well as other ministries and organizations.
An SAAQ representative says these two institutions are given as examples and it is just a coincidence that they have counterparts that work closely with the English-speaking community. Individuals can still receive English information, it says.
The auto-insurance board's new policy also says that people who have been in Quebec for more than three years can no longer complete their written drivers tests in a language other than English or French.
Although none of these provisions are specifically set-out in the province-wide framework, spokesperson Mario Vaillancourt says they do fall in line with it: "We adopted it according to the services we have."
The Quebec Community Groups Network says the fact that government bodies do not appear to be applying the province's directives in a consistent way is also a deep concern.
"How would you know that one cranky civil servant is not giving service because he or she doesn't want to give service or that its the policy of that ministry?" says Martin-Laforge.
Posted on 1/10/2014 5:00:00 AM by Angelica Montgomery

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