All the Quebec municipalities that were at risk of losing their bilingual status under a provincial language law have opted to maintain their right to serve people in both English and French, the province’s language office confirmed.
The Office québécois de la langue française says all 48 cities, towns or boroughs that were notified their status could be revoked have taken the necessary action to remain bilingual.
“Thanks to this legislative amendment, the recognized municipalities that received notices had to analyze the need to maintain or not their bilingual status and thus to take a position,” the language office said late Monday in a statement.
Under Quebec’s new language law, Bill 96, municipalities could lose the right to communicate with residents in English if less than 50 per cent of the population has English as a mother tongue.
However, the law allows cities already recognized as bilingual to preserve their status — even if their anglophone population drops below 50 per cent — by passing a resolution within 120 days of receiving notice from the province.
More than half of the province’s 89 bilingual municipalities received those notices in December because their English-language populations ranged from less than 10 per cent to just under 50 per cent. All 48 passed the resolution, the language office said.
A spokesman for French Language Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said the law strikes a balance between promoting French and preserving the rights of the English-speaking minority. “It will now be up to the mayors to justify this choice to their voters,” Thomas Verville said in a statement.
Bill 96, which came into effect last June, tightened the province’s language laws and affirmed that French is Quebec’s only official language and the common language of the Quebec nation. However, the idea of giving up the right to serve residents in English was not popular with mayors.
Even Otterburn Park, a town 40 kilometres east of Montreal, elected to keep its status despite having only 7.2 per cent of its citizens with English as a mother tongue.