Due to the strong support from the Coalition Avenir Québec, Quebec’s controversial Bill 14 is making its way through the Quebec legislature despite strong opposition from Quebec’s Liberal opposition party. Bill 14 would amend the Charter of the French Language (the Language Charter) and several other laws currently in force in Quebec. The unique civil laws of Quebec already pose a challenge to businesses desiring to expand their presence in Canada but the language bill may further hurt business in Quebec. This is because while the current language law makes it mandatory for companies with 50 or more employees to impose French as the language of communication in the workplace, Bill 14 will extend Francization requirements to businesses with 26 to 49 employees. Non-compliance with the Language Charter is an offence punishable by law, with fines ranging from $600 to $6,000 in the case of an individual and $1,500 to $20,000 in the case of a legal person for first offences, with fines doubled for a subsequent offence.
In addition, employers with 10 or more employees will be required to post a special sign in the workplace that informs all employees of their right to work in French. This will require employers to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or harassment of employees for asserting a right to work in French. Employees will be able to file a complaint with the Commission des norms du travail if they feel that their rights are being violated.