April 17, 2024

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Complaints rise: French mistreated in Quebec

Complaints rise: French mistreated in Quebec

Three years into the Quebec region's failure to respect French as the “language of service” and a growing number of complaints targeting the identities of various businesses.

This is what data from the Office Quebecois de la Langue Franchise reveals. Newspaper.

From 2021 to 2023, the number of service language-related complaints increased from 56 to 67, while signage-related complaints rose from 63 to 104, the largest increase of any region in Quebec. (see box)

Consulted by experts Newspaper They say they are not surprised to find the French so badly treated in the national capital.

“The state and vitality of our national language is in decline, as are the fundamental linguistic rights of Quebecers, including in the Capital-National Region,” notes Maxime Laporte, president of the Movement Quebec Française.

Maxime Laporte is the leader of the French Quebec movement.

Photo by Maxime Laporte

From Montreal to Quebec

For his part, the general president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montreal believes that the decline of the French language that has been visible in Montreal for years is now spreading to the rest of Quebec.

“Now there is no one who can say that the French are not going backwards. It's troubling, it's not just the numbers, it's heard, it's seen,” notes Marie-Anne Alepin.

Some of the shortcomings in terms of gesture were notably seen in Quebec's Petite Champlain district, where businesses displayed “open” or “closed” on their windows, leaving no room for French.

Businesses must be “Franco-Responsible”.

“Our language means added value to our tourism sector. I think businesses, including those operating in the tourism sector, are interested in being proud to present themselves in French and wanting to present themselves as Franco-responsible,” says Mr. Laporte.

Also, by June 2025, the Quebec government's draft regulation requires businesses with a storefront in Quebec to ensure they take up double the space in their windows.

Couldn't answer in French

Over the past few weeks, Newspaper He noted gaps in French service at Quebec establishments, including the Dollarama on Place de la Cité and the McDonald's restaurant on Bouvier Street.

In the first case, observed on January 16, a non-native English-speaking employee was unable to answer our questions while placing items in a Dollarama store. However, this situation could not have been reported to the Office Québécois de la Longue Française, as another employee on the ground was able to respond in French. (see box)


On January 16, a non-native English-speaking employee was busy stocking merchandise at the Dollarama store on Place de la City. However, another employee was able to answer our questions in French at the checkouts.

Photo by Elisa Cloutier

Asked about this, the company said an “awareness meeting” would be organized with the employee concerned. “French is a second language for some of our employees, and Dollarama encourages these employees in their efforts to improve their knowledge of the French language,” said spokeswoman Laila Radmanovich.

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Then, in a second case on January 25 at 11:30 p.m., staff at the restaurant's cash register were unable to speak French.

The fast-food chain did not respond to our inquiries.

At the docks to explain these deficiencies: labor shortages, Damien Siles, general director of the Quebec Retail Council, underlines. “Quebec currently has a shortfall of almost 29,000 people in retail,” he says.


Director General of the Quebec Retail Council, Damien Silas.

Photo courtesy of Damian Silas

“I have traders who have received Ukrainians and others who have gone to Morocco on trade missions,” he adds.

– In collaboration with Vincent Despiens

Terms of the Charter of the French Language:

Service language:

A company has an obligation to ensure that at least one employee can provide customer service in French at all times.


Company names must be in French. However, a company can display a name that is not in French but must be accompanied by a statement in French.

Trademarks may appear in a language other than French, but French words must also appear that provide information about the company's activities, its products or its services (for example a generic, description or slogan).

Menus must be in French. They may be written in French and equally in another language.

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