During the first day of public consultations on Bill 96, CUPE Quebec reiterated its support for this bill, which it believes is necessary. Though not opposed to members of the public learning or mastering English or another language or to providing any service in English, CUPE Quebec does contest the propensity of public employers, particularly the CISSS and the CIUSSS, to post bilingual positions without justification.

The proposed amendments to Bill 96 should plug this loophole, in part, by prohibiting employers from demanding the knowledge of another language in cases where the duties do not require it. However, CUPE Quebec does believe that municipal and government agencies must establish francization committees, as is done in the public sector, to curtail at the source the posting of unjustified bilingual positions and the disputes that this creates.

“Workers must be given some say as to what bilingualism requirements really are in organizations in the municipal, health and education sectors. In addition, these committees could actively participate in the francization of immigrants, many of whom end up working in the health sector, for example,” said Nathalie Blais, a representative with the CUPE Quebec research department.

CUPE Quebec denounces the acute lack of resources available to teach French to adult immigrants who, unlike children, are left to their own devices when they arrive in Quebec. CUPE Quebec therefore demands that courses on the French language and Quebec’s culture be given in the workplace during working hours in all companies and in the public sector.

“More often than not, these newcomers have neither the time nor the resources to learn French before they join the workforce. They also must hold down a job, and at times even two, to support their families, without having basic language skills that would enable them to integrate into Quebec society. Our members who are in this situation report that the French courses currently being offered outside the workplace have not been adapted to their reality,” added Frédéric Bisson, the general secretary of CUPE Quebec.  

In conclusion, CUPE Quebec is pleased that Bill 96 makes the learning of French, the common language, a fundamental right. It is also supportive of the brief that the FTQ will be submitting tomorrow.