Lisée: Quebec’s plan to eradicate English

Clever piece but unlikely to convince many:

It’s much worse than everything you’ve heard. The assault on the Anglo minority in Quebec has been best summed-up by Marlene Jennings: it is, she said, a “perfect formula” for “eradication.” She should know. The former Liberal MP headed until recently the Quebec Community Groups Network, spearheading the fight against François Legault’s many-pronged and still evolving eradication plan.

The numbers don’t lie. Quebecers who have English as a mother tongue account for 8 per cent of the population. But what of the ability to attract newcomers into the Anglo fold, given the enormous power of attraction of French on the continent? The proportion of Quebecers that uses English more than French in their daily lives is only 14 per cent. That doesn’t even double the count. Granted, 44 per cent of all Quebecers do speak English as do close to 80 per cent of young francophone Montrealers, but that is poor consolation.

Case in point: Quebec’s intolerant immigration policies has only let into the Montreal area about 90,000 unilingual English-speaking newcomers in the last three years — since the election of the governing CAQ — which barely adds 14 per cent to the Anglo population, so you can see where this is headed.

Everybody knows that the CAQ language bill, now in effect, will crack down on any doctor or nurse who would dare speak English to anyone not member of the “historic Anglo community,” meaning those who attended school in English. The actual text of the law tries to hide this fact by stating that French is required “except in health,” and then a specific section gaslights jurists by saying it specifically does not apply to the general statute on health and social services. 

Don’t be fooled by the fact that other law compels hospitals in all regions to set up English speaking access plans and to render services in English for anyone who asks for them. In reality, Anglo Quebecers have little other resource than to rely on the 37 institutions of the English public health network, which barely employs 45 per cent of the Island of Montreal’s health workers. 

Outside that small cocoon, English speakers needing medical care will be lucky if they fall in the hands of the puny proportion of French doctors that actually speak their language: 88 per cent. It is clear to anyone who follows these issues that French Canadians outside Quebec would revolt if their access to health in their language was that dire.

It’s even shoddier, of course, in the labour market. Toronto readers know, thanks to Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne, that “the law prohibits the use of any language but French in the province’s workplaces, large or small, public or private.” Specifically, the new law extends to mid-sized shops, the regulation having existed for 35 years in larger ones. 

The damage is already done: in the last census, the proportion of workers in the Montreal area who used mostly English at work was down to 20 per cent, those who use it regularly down to 49 per cent. Why aren’t all these people fined by the language police? 

Corruption, laziness and incompetence, endemic in Quebec as famously reported in Maclean’s magazine, are surely the only explanation for this lack of enforcement, hidden perhaps behind a slew of exceptions enabling anyone to speak any language to clients, suppliers, the head office, or colleagues, provided French is the “usual and habitual language of work.” Usual and habitual, which are, of course, code words for intransigence. Now if someone would be foolish enough to impose, say, English as the “usual and habitual language of work” in Toronto or Mississauga, all hell would break loose.

In Quebec, only 14 per cent of management positions are held by the 8 per cent of Anglos, which gives them a ridiculously small systemic advantage. Thank God for the rebel CEOs of Air Canada, SNC-Lavalin, the Laurentian Bank, the Canadian National and Couche Tard, proud unilingual Anglos, who enable all their senior staff and secretaries to revel in English, whatever their linguistic background. That’s inclusion.

Language oppression is Quebec is particularly offensive in education. René Lévesque’s Bill 101 famously took away the linguistic choice for K-12 to all, except Anglos and immigrants going to English schools prior to 1977, who retain the right to choose and pass it to their descendants for all eternity, and any English-Canadian of any background schooled in English moving to Quebec anytime and their descendants, for all eternity. Appalling.

Granted, the 8 per cent of Anglos have access to 17 per cent of spots in colleges and 25 per cent of universities, with 30 per cent of research grants. The new law would actually cap the Anglo Cegeps at merely double the presence of Anglos in the population. Not only that. These institutions of higher learning used to properly shun Anglo high schoolers that had lesser grades and give their spots to French students bright enough and bilingual enough to enrol there. The anti-Anglo nationalist government now forces these colleges to give precedence to Anglo students in enrolment, thus forcing Anglo institutions into debasing themselves by catering to lesser Anglos. Shameful, really.

Now for the coup de grâce. The inward-looking Quebec government seems to have it in it’s head that Anglo kids should be proficient enough in French to succeed in a work environment where French is still, alas, unavoidable. By law, all Anglo high schoolers with diplomas in hand are deemed bilingual. So why bother asking them, in college, to hone this skill? This idea is so bonkers that when the Quebec Liberal party proposed that Anglo students attend three classes IN French, (alongside their French colleagues who follow ALL classes in English), the scandal was enormous. 

The federation of colleges announced that a full third of Anglo students would fail. Not fare badly, but fail. Pretending that a bilingual person could actually read texts, attend lectures and render a paper in another language is of course nonsensical. One Anglo CEGEP director, Christian Corno, hit it on the nail by writing, in French, that this abomination was motivated by a willingness “to make Anglo students atone for the sins of their ancestors” (who may or may not have oppressed the French in the past, a debatable assertion). 

The fallback position has been to increase the number of French classes that these poor students should take, from two to five. This, also, puts their grades in jeopardy. Forcing students to learn the language of the majority of the population where they live and will work is an unacceptable imposition, surely unheard of anywhere else in the world.

The relentlessness of Quebec’s assaults on minority and religious rights extracts a heavy toll on its international reputation and attractiveness. Last year, only 177,000 foreign temporary workers and students were in the province. Yes, it is triple the usual amount and an all-time high. But just think of those who didn’t come. 

Foreign investment is repelled by the current intolerant climate. FDI in the Montreal area only jumped 69 per cent to a record high of $3.7 billionlast year but this is only attributable to Quebec boasting a recent growth rate greater than that of any G7 countries, Canada included. The fact that these newcomers and investors came to Quebec after the controversy and adoption of the secularism bill and during the language bill controversy simply points to the paucity of information available to them.

Thankfully, for the first time in history, the number of Ontarians moving to Quebec outpaced the number or Quebecers moving to Ontario. It used to be that, each year, 3,000 to 9,000 more Quebecers would leave for Ontario than the other way around. But given the new toxic environment, the flow has flipped and, last year, almost a net 800 brave Ontarianscrossed the Ottawa River to settle in Quebec. (In total, an astonishing 29,000 citizens moved from the Rest of Canada to Quebec in 2021.) Not for lower housing prices or better services or job outlook, but simply, surely, to contribute in defeating the eradication plan afoot. More will be needed. 

Please, come in droves! Hurry, before the last English word is ever spoken in Quebec.

Jean-François Lisée is an author, a columnist for Le Devoir and a former head of the Parti Québécois. This text may contain traces of irony. One may find his rants at

Source: Quebec’s plan to eradicate English

Balan and Packer: Supporting minority languages requires more than token gestures

Like so many advocates and academics, the authors speak more in generalities and principles rather than specifics.

While the situation of Indigenous languages is different, for immigrants and their descendants the working assumption of integrating into an English or French speaking environment remains relevant, with government information generally available in other languages with some translation or interpretation where needed in healthcare.

Having a common language, while allowing for and accommodating other languages, is important not only for overall social cohesion and inclusion but also to improve opportunities for minority groups:

In August 2022, Statistics Canada released the latest census data on languages in Canada. According to the data, over nine million people — or one in four Canadians — has a mother tongue other than English or French (a record high since the 1901 census). 

Twelve per cent of Canadians speak a language other than English or French at home. Statistics Canada observes that the country’s linguistic diversity will likely continue to grow into the future.

Yet, recent developments in language policy and practices in Canada reveal that there is confusion and misunderstanding among government officials and the general public about language use, international language rights and their implications.

In Canada, there must be greater understanding of the cultural and linguistic rights of minorities. According to universally accepted human rights, persons belonging to majorities and minorities should have equal rights. Minorities are entitled to equal conditions and services to enable them to maintain their identity, culture and language.

The 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights treaty to which Canada is a party, provides that “In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.”

The 1992 UN Declaration on Minorities clarifies and expands on this treaty provision. It stipulates that UN member states should enact legislative and other measures to protect minority identities.

Confusing words

Two words are often confused in Canada: integration and assimilation. When speaking about immigrants and refugees, Canadian law’s stated objective is integration. And the default framework for integration is the majority culture and language. 

Non-anglophone and non-francophone immigrants are expected to adapt and conform to the Canadian way of doing things, learn Canadian history, celebrate Canadian holidays and speak in one or both of Canada’s official languages.

But these languages reflect the cultures of Canada’s two historically dominant groups. For many Indigenous people and immigrants, histories, holidays and languages differ from the majority of Canadians.

Involuntary assimilation is prohibited under international law. This is a colonialist and imperialist practice which ultimately forces people to alter or surrender their identity, culture and dissolve into the majority. 

Canada’s notorious residential schools were one of the harshest examples of such assimilationist policies. Other essentially assimilationist practices continue to this day. For example, the law states that provinces must provide education to English or French-speaking minorities in their own language. But there is no similar legislation for Indigenous languages, nor for those spoken by people who immigrate from all around the world. These policies will increasingly conflict with growing diversity as Canada seeks to welcome 1.5 million immigrants over the next three years.

In contrast, integration is based on recognition of diversity. Integration is a two-way process through which minorities and majorities learn about and engage with each other’s cultures and languages. 

While maintaining their own distinctiveness, majority and minority groups contribute to shared foundations and institutions of the society out of common interest and for mutual benefit. This is important for the many individuals who possess multiple or overlapping identities.

In 2012, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, of which Canada is a participating state, released Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies, in which it explained:

“Integration is a process that requires that all members of a given society accept common public institutions and have a shared sense of belonging to a common State and an inclusive society. This does not exclude the possibility of distinct identities, which are constantly evolving, multiple and contextual. Mechanisms aiming at mutual accommodation are essential to negotiate the legitimate claims put forward by different groups or communities.”

Integration requires accommodation of diversity. It also means that governments should invest proportionally in the promotion of majority and minority cultures and languages with a view to facilitating full lives in dignity and equal rights for everyone. This requires more than token support for cultural activities such as traditional food and dance.

There is also confusion around the issue of minority language status. In Canada there is a common belief that the only minority language(s) entitled to protection are the ones with official or other recognized status. But according to international human rights principles, all minority cultures and languages should be protected regardless of whether they hold “official” status

This means that the languages of Indigenous Peoples as well as of other people living in Canada should be acknowledged and facilitated. This is essential for their well-being and for genuine equality in rights.

Not a zero-sum game

Genuine integration should respect and promote diversity in the languages used in various contexts of public life. This does not necessarily require changing the number and status of official languages; it’s not a zero-sum game. But it does require adjusting language policies to reconcile with existing realities in reasonable and meaningful ways. The aim is real and effective equality. 

Technological innovations (such as easily accessible real-time translation) make this more possible and cost-effective than ever.

In order to live together peacefully and embrace diversity, Canadians need to understand that languages are not just a means of technical communication, but are often at the core of people’s identity and culture. Taking away a person’s languageoften amounts to taking away their sense of self, dignity and community belonging. It also suppresses the remarkable linguistic assets that Canada possesses.

Building a Canadian nation through assimilation of minorities in the face of increasing diversity only generates social tensions and conflicts. It is not democracy, it is majoritarianism. It is contrary to fundamental human rights and signals social regression rather than progress. 

Instead, Canada should foster a forward-looking, human-centred and dynamic society that embraces diversity, multiculturalism and multilingualism. This is to our advantage. Canada’s rich linguistic diversity is an asset that should be valued. We must cast off the old colonialist thinking and seize the rich possibilities that are at hand.

Source: Supporting minority languages requires more than token gestures

David: Au-delà du discours

Quebec commentary on PM Legault’s inaugural speech and focus on language and immigration (language worries based on mother tongue rather than more important language of work). And the realists in cabinet recognize that 100 percent francophone immigration will exclude some needed expertise and talent;

En 2018, le succès de Québec solidaire durant la campagne électorale avait fait soudainement découvrir à François Legault l’urgence de s’attaquer aux changements climatiques. Cette fois-ci, on a l’impression que le discours du Parti québécois sur le recul du français a provoqué le même genre d’illumination.

Le discours inaugural est rarement très excitant, à plus forte raison quand un gouvernement est reconduit dans ses fonctions après avoir fait campagne sur la continuité. Et à force de multiplier les priorités, on finit par donner l’impression de ne pas en avoir.

Le premier ministre a néanmoins senti la nécessité d’un rattrapage sur la question linguistique. D’entrée de jeu, il a évoqué le « destin improbable » des compagnons de Champlain, débarqués en terre d’Amérique il y a plus de quatre siècles, qui avaient « réussi à tenir », ce qui a imposé à leurs descendants l’obligation de continuer.

Son « premier devoir », a-t-il dit, est d’enrayer le déclin du français et même d’inverser la tendance. Il a reconnu du même coup que ce qui a été fait durant son premier mandat demeurait insuffisant, même s’il faut du temps avant que la loi 96 produise son plein effet.

Le ministre de la Langue française, Jean-François Roberge, avait mis la table 24 heures plus tôt. « Il va vraiment falloir que les Québécois comprennent qu’en ce moment, on ne marche pas, on court vers le mur ! On a un vrai problème. Le recul du français est plus important dans les 20 dernières années que dans le siècle précédent », avait-il déclaré.

Il n’y aura cependant pas de « réveil national », à moins que le gouvernement ne donne lui-même l’exemple. Certes, chacun doit agir, que ce soit dans le choix des produits culturels qu’il consomme ou encore en exigeant d’être servi en français, mais il revient aux élus de définir le cadre légal à l’intérieur duquel le combat pour la survie du seul état à majorité francophone en Amérique du Nord pourrait peut-être être encore gagné.

Si le français ne cesse de reculer comme langue de travail, le ministre peut-il sérieusement penser que la responsabilité revient aux francophones, qui ne sont pas suffisamment exigeants envers leurs employeurs ? Quand ils se présentent dans un hôpital de la région de Montréal où ils sont incapables d’être soignés en français, devraient-ils claquer la porte et aller ailleurs ?

S’il est possible d’exploiter un commerce ou de travailler dans un service public sans être en mesure de parler la langue de la majorité, ou même en refusant de le faire, c’est manifestement que rien ne l’empêche.

M. Legault exclut toujours d’étendre les dispositions de la loi 101 au niveau collégial, estimant que cela n’aurait pas d’effet majeur sur la francisation des immigrants. Il n’a jamais semblé comprendre qu’une politique linguistique est un tout dont chacun des éléments n’est pas nécessairement déterminant, mais dont la conjugaison permet d’arriver au résultat souhaité.

Le premier ministre dit maintenant miser sur une immigration à 100 % francophone ou presque, et il découvre maintenant que beaucoup pourraient être faits sans les nouveaux pouvoirs qu’il réclame au gouvernement fédéral depuis des années.

La nouvelle ministre de l’Immigration, Christine Fréchette, a voulu calmer quelque peu l’emballement de son patron, qui a toujours eu du mal à maîtriser ce dossier, en disant qu’il fallait plutôt « tendre vers » cet objectif et que des immigrants simplement « francotropes », qu’ils aient pour langue maternelle l’arabe, le créole ou le swahili, pourraient faire l’affaire.

Le superministre de l’Économie, Pierre Fitzgibbon, s’est également empressé de mettre des bémols et réclame déjà des exceptions, notamment pour le développement de la filière des batteries, en attendant les autres projets qui ne manqueront pas de lui venir à l’esprit. « Ce serait l’fun d’avoir 100 %, mais il faut être réaliste et balancer ça avec les besoins », a-t-il expliqué.

M. Fitzgibbon pourra toujours rappeler au premier ministre que c’est exactement ce qu’il disait lui-même il n’y a pas si longtemps. En février 2019, M. Legault avait exprimé clairement sa vision des choses lors de la présentation du projet de loi 9 sur l’immigration. « Le PQ préfère dire : on va exiger le français avant l’arrivée. Moi, je pense que ça n’aiderait pas à bien répondre aux besoins du marché du travail », avait-il déclaré.

Il ne fait aucun doute que M. Legault aimerait que le Québec soit le plus français possible, mais sa priorité, pour ne pas dire son obsession, a toujours été d’abord de l’enrichir et de rattraper son retard par rapport à l’Ontario, thème sur lequel il est revenu à plus d’une reprise dans le discours inaugural. M. Fitzgibbon lui fera sans doute valoir qu’il est toujours hasardeux de courir deux lièvres à la fois.

Source: Au-delà du discours

Du «racisme» linguistique

Of note. Good réplique to some of the Quebec debate on language and immigrants:

S’il est légitime d’exiger du gouvernement fédéral de tenir compte des demandes du Québec en matière de langue, il n’y a par contre aucune légitimité à restreindre, comme le fait Mario Beaulieu dans un texte récemment paru en ces pages (cosigné par onze personnes), la qualité de francophone aux seuls locuteurs de français langue maternelle. Selon lui, il faudra s’attendre à un « effondrement du poids des francophones au Québec, de 81,6 % en 2011 à 73,6 % en 2036 ». Il faut en finir une fois pour toutes avec ce « racisme » linguistique. (Le mot « racisme » est ici entre guillemets pour n’en retenir que la notion de hiérarchie.)

Il est complètement ridicule de croire qu’un francophone est une personne qui a dit « môman » avant l’âge de deux ans. Un francophone, c’est aussi un plurilingue dont le français n’est pas la langue maternelle. On ne naît pas francophone, on le devient.

Au Québec, 85 % de l’augmentation de la population provient de l’immigration. Nul besoin d’être lauréat de la médaille Fields pour comprendre que la proportion du groupe non immigrant (et d’origine non immigrante) va décroître avec le temps. Ce qui n’est pas le cas des francophones, si par francophone on entend toute personne qui a appris le français à la maison, sur les bancs d’école ou sur les lieux de travail (ici ou ailleurs). L’objectif de la loi 101 était de faire du français langue maternelle une langue fraternelle, pour qu’on puisse mettre en commun nos mémoires plurielles, nos parcours et nos rêves afin d’y puiser les ressources et l’audace pour faire du Québec une société prospère, pluraliste et égalitaire, et non pas une société où il y aurait deux classes de citoyens.

Le Québec accueille des immigrants depuis des générations. Beaucoup d’entre eux ont appris le français avant la loi 101. Depuis 1977, cette loi a obligé des dizaines de milliers de jeunes immigrants à fréquenter les écoles françaises pendant onze ans. En outre, bon nombre de nos immigrants sont originaires d’anciennes colonies françaises. Ils se chiffrent eux aussi par dizaines de milliers. Comme très peu d’entre eux déclarent le français comme langue maternelle, ils sont pour la plupart disqualifiés comme francophones, même si parmi eux on compte des professeurs de français, des professionnels qui travaillent en français, des écrivains et tant d’autres citoyens venus d’ailleurs, profondément attachés au Québec, pour qui le terme « Québec français » est un pléonasme.

La hiérarchie ainsi créée, entre le français de langue maternelle et le français de langue seconde, ne doit pas être prise à la légère. Elle crée des catégories de citoyens n’ayant pas la même valeur dans la société, situation propice au racisme. Nous savons comment, dans d’autres lieux, mais encore aujourd’hui, la hiérarchisation des cultures s’est substituée à celle fondée sur la race — lorsque celle-ci est devenue une hérésie scientifique —, avec des conséquences néfastes sur les plans politique et social. Au Québec, où langue et culture sont souvent interchangeables, il est temps de remiser cette aberration avant que des esprits moins inoffensifs que des déclinistes et des comptables ne s’en emparent.

L’État québécois est doté de suffisamment de pouvoirs et de ressources pour assurer la pérennité et l’essor de la culture et de la langue françaises. Qu’il les utilise efficacement et judicieusement sans blâmer ni pénaliser les immigrants. Entre 1971 et 2016, l’utilisation du français dans les écoles (maternelles, primaires et secondaires) est passée de 64 % à 90 %, tandis que la proportion d’immigrants francophones dépasse les 60 %, et pourra facilement augmenter si, comme l’indique le démographe Richard Marcoux, on va puiser dans l’énorme bassin francophone africain.

Le français n’est pas près de disparaître. Au Québec, il n’y a que 6 % de la population qui n’a aucune connaissance du français. La complexité de la situation linguistique exige de ceux qui l’analysent qu’on tienne compte de multiples critères et, surtout, qu’on désethnicise enfin la notion de francophone. Il serait honteux que les « voleurs de jobs » de l’après-guerre deviennent maintenant des « voleurs de langue ».

Selon Machiavel, « celui qui contrôle la peur des gens devient le maître de leurs âmes ». Partout en Occident, populistes et démagogues ont réussi à faire croire que les minorités immigrantes représentent une menace pour les modes de vie et l’identité de la majorité afin de s’emparer du pouvoir. Le Québec ne fait malheureusement pas exception.

Source: Du «racisme» linguistique

Quebec tells federally regulated firms to guarantee use of French among employees

Federal response has been weak to date. Will be interesting to see the results of expected court cases:

The Quebec government is giving companies in federally regulated sectors one month to begin complying with new requirements to guarantee the use of French in their workplaces.

The move comes as Ottawa’s plans to modernize the country’s Official Languages Act, which will include new rules for federally regulated companies, are still being debated in Parliament.

Federally regulated sectors include banking, telecommunications and transportation, which were not under the legal purview of the Quebec government until the recent adoption of a new language law known as Bill 96.

Source: Quebec tells federally regulated firms to guarantee use of French among employees

Lost in translation: Patients more likely to die, have serious outcomes when their physicians don’t speak their preferred language

Serious study and implications. During my experience as a cancer patient, I often reflected on how hard it must be for patients with weaker language skills, education and income:

Patients treated by physicians who speak their own language are healthier and less likely to die while in hospital, according to a new study led by Ottawa researchers.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showed significant differences in outcomes among frail, older patients who were treated by a physician in their own language, compared to those who were not.

Francophones treated by a French-speaking physician had a 24 per cent lower chance of death than those who received care from a non-French-speaking doctor, according to the study. They also had shorter hospital stays and had a 36 per cent lower chance of adverse events, such as falls, while in hospital.

For patients whose first language was neither English nor French, known as allophones, the impact was stark. This group had a 54 per cent lower chance of death when treated by a physician in their own language and a 74 per cent lower chance of hospital-related harms, according to the research.

But fewer than two per cent of allophones and fewer than half of the Francophones in the study received physician care in their own language.

Co-author Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, a physician-scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, Institute du Savior Montfort, Bruyere Research Institute and The Ottawa Hospital, called the findings staggering.

“It’s clearly easier to convey important information about your health in your primary language. Regardless, the more than doubling in odds of serious harms, including death, for patients receiving care in a different language is eye-opening.”

Tanuseputro said the research underscores why it is important for hospitals to pay attention to the language patients speak as well as the languages physicians and other health workers speak.

The findings are likely to resonate in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, where the Franco-Ontarian community rallied to save Montfort hospital after the Ontario government announced plans to close it in 1997. The battle, won after five years of political activism and legal fights, galvanized the community. Today, Montfort is a Francophone university health institution that provides care in both languages and has a research institute.

Still, Tanuseputro noted that the majority of Franco-Ontarians studied did not get health services in French.

The study’s lead author, Emily Seale, a medical student at the University of Ottawa and Institut du Savoir Montfort, said more must be done to make sure patients are heard and understood by referring them to physicians who speak the same language or by using interpreter services.

“This is not only good patient-centred care, but our research shows that there are grave health consequences when it doesn’t happen.”

Dr. Sharon Johnston, scientific director and associate VP research at the Institut du Savoir Montfort said the study is important because: “(it) helps us quantify the risk of greater harm faced by patients who cannot receive medical care in their preferred language. Understanding and addressing this issue, particularly for our francophone community in Eastern Ottawa and Ontario, is a key part of the mission of Hôpital Montfort and l’Institut du Savoir Montfort.”

The researchers relied partly on data from home care services, which keeps track of patients’ first languages.

They studied more than 189,000 adult home care recipients who had been admitted to hospital between April 2010 and March 2018. They compared patients who received care from a physician in their primary language and those who received care in a different language.

Most of the home care recipients in the study spoke English. Thirteen per cent spoke French and 2.7 per cent spoke another language.

Just over half of the physicians in the study spoke only English and the remainder were multilingual. While 44 per cent of Francophones received care primarily from French-speaking physicians, only 1.6 per cent of allophones received most of their care from physicians who spoke their primary language or one they could understand.

Tanuseputro said, in his own experience, making attempts to find a physician who can provide care in a patient’s language, or translation services, is not always a priority in a busy hospital.

“I am guilty of this too. What our study shows is that there are risks and consequences if you don’t do that.”

Among other suggestions, Tanuseputro said teams of physicians should consider a patient’s language and find someone better able to communicate with the patient. And translation services should be used, even if it takes time.

He also said hospitals should assess patients to understand how well they understand English. If they can’t, hospitals should have interpretive services or multi-lingual family available.

While the study looked at home care patients who were in hospital between 2010 and 2018, Tanuseputro said the situation may well have worsened during periods of the pandemic when family members were generally kept out of the hospital and unable to help interpret.

The study can be found at:

Source: Lost in translation: Patients more likely to die, have serious outcomes when their physicians don’t speak their preferred language

Lisée: Le louisianisateur

The vast majority of temporary residents in Quebec are international students, likely the majority in English language institutions. Some will move outside Quebec following completion of their degrees, particularly those who are unilingual and attend anglophone institutions. All have mobility rights across the country so the impact on Quebec demographics will likely be more limited than Lisée argues.

And of course, language spoken at home is the wrong measure given that immigrants and allophones largely speak their language of origin at home, and French in the public space:

L’heure est grave. François Legault pointe un doigt accusateur vers un gouvernement qui, par son insondable incurie, met en cause la « survie de la nation ».

Les chiffres sont incontestables. En trois ans, le coupable a déroulé le tapis rouge à 90 000 unilingues anglophones, massivement regroupés à Montréal, et à 30 000 autres qui ne connaissent rien à la langue de Vigneault. Il est grand temps de nommer le responsable : le gouvernement de François Legault.

On aura beau chercher dans les mandats de Philippe Couillard, Jean Charest, Robert Bourassa, on ne trouvera nulle part, avant la CAQ, un gouvernement qui en a fait autant, avec l’immigration, pour affaiblir le français et angliciser Montréal. S’il y a un louisianisateur au Québec, c’est François Legault. Et encore : on n’a pas encore les chiffres de 2022 et, sans la pandémie, c’eût été pire encore.

On pourrait parler de pompier pyromane si François Legault tentait aujourd’hui d’éteindre ce feu de forêt linguistique. Il n’en est rien. Alors que le sinistre, majeur, se trouve dans l’afflux d’immigrants temporaires dont la présence est constante et croissante, Legault n’agite son boyau que vers le petit feu de broussaille de la réunification familiale. Une fois soustraits les mineurs et les retraités, on ne trouve, là, que 3000 adultes non francophones par an.

La question de l’immigration est compliquée. L’indulgence doit-elle nous conduire à excuser l’incompétence du premier ministre en la matière ? Pendant la campagne de 2018, incapable de répondre à des questions simples au sujet de l’immigration dont il avait fait son thème phare, il admit ne pas être « un génie en herbe ». Il a eu quatre ans pour se mettre à niveau. Il ne l’a pas fait.

D’autant qu’avant ses déclarations de dimanche dernier, il avait à sa disposition les documents les plus à jour qu’on puisse espérer : les rapports que l’économiste Pierre Fortin et le démographe Marc Termote ont produits pour son gouvernement et qui braquent les projecteurs sur le dérapage linguistique opéré par l’afflux de temporaires non francophones.

Ils ne mâchent pas leurs mots. L’accélération fulgurante, voulue par Ottawa et permise par Québec, provoque chez nous « la perte de contrôle de sa politique d’immigration permanente », dit Fortin, et « le risque d’un recul important de la francisation de sa population immigrante ». Termote renchérit : « Pour que l’immigration temporaire ne contribue pas à fragiliser la présence du français, aussi bien dans l’espace public que dans l’espace privé, il faudrait que le pourcentage de francophones parmi ces immigrants soit au moins égal au pourcentage de francophones dans la population d’accueil ». Un tel constat, conclut-il, « devrait suffire à justifier une intervention croissante du Québec dans la gestion de cette immigration ».

Mais Fortin décrit un ministère de l’Immigration « submergé par un tsunami d’immigrants temporaires » — 177 000 l’an dernier — sur lesquels « le ministère n’exerce qu’un contrôle timide ». Comme Termote, il note que le gouvernement québécois détient, en ce moment, le pouvoir de limiter leur nombre ou d’exiger qu’ils aient une connaissance préalable du français. Un pouvoir qui existe dans l’entente Québec-Canada, confirment au Devoir le négociateur québécois de l’entente, Louis Bernard, et l’ex-responsable de la planification au ministère de l’Immigration, Anne Michèle Meggs.

Pourquoi ne le fait-il pas ? Fortin tente une explication : « Le gouvernement, écrit-il, craint sans doute les accusations d’irréalisme et de cruauté » de la part des cégeps et universités anglophones et des employeurs qui utilisent ces programmes comme des bars ouverts. Bizarre, car la mère patrie de l’anglophonie, le Royaume-Uni, n’hésite pas, elle, à exiger une connaissance préalable de l’anglais à ses futurs immigrants, y compris temporaires. Cruelle Albion !

Non seulement cette gestion a été inexistante depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de la CAQ, mais son premier document de planification, de 2019, se donnait l’objectif d’augmenter de 15 % le nombre de ces temporaires. Ce qu’Ottawa a fait, et bien au-delà, avec plaisir.

Cette réalité, autrement plus grave que la question de la réunification familiale, nous oblige à poser une question grave. Si quelqu’un, au pouvoir, souhaitait que se poursuive sans interruption l’arrivée de tous ces temporaires qui anglicisent Montréal, que ferait-il ? D’abord, il gouvernerait pendant quatre ans sans jamais réguler ce flot. Ensuite, il ferait une fixation sur un objectif secondaire, sans grand impact — la réunification des familles — pour lequel il ne peut agir seul. Surtout, il ferait mine de ne rien pouvoir faire sans obtenir des pouvoirs que, c’est certain, il n’obtiendra jamais dans le cadre canadien. Tout cela en feignant d’être très préoccupé par la survie linguistique de son peuple.

Je suppose que si François Legault lit ces lignes, il s’indignera que je lui fasse un tel procès d’intention. C’est que la distance qui sépare ses discours de ses actions en immigration impose la plus grande sévérité, à l’heure où il demande aux Québécois un aller simple vers un cul-de-sac.

Sur le fond, où va-t-on ? « Dans la région de Montréal, on observe, et on continuera à observer un écartèlement croissant entre un français de moins en moins utilisé à la maison et le français resté plus ou moins majoritaire dans l’espace public, écrit Termote. Peut-on concevoir une société durablement soumise à un tel comportement quasi schizophrénique ? Comment réagiront les immigrants, et les anglophones, lorsqu’ils constateront que le français est minoritaire, ce qui est sur le point d’advenir sur l’île de Montréal et qui le sera dans une ou deux générations dans l’ensemble de la région métropolitaine ? »

Comment ils réagiront ? En faisant de l’anglais la langue commune, tout simplement. Et en remerciant celui qui a rendu la chose possible : François Legault.


Immigrants in Quebec could struggle to have rights respected under new language law

Of note:

Groups helping immigrants, migrant workers and refugees in Montreal say their clientele will struggle to have their basic rights respected under Quebec’s revamped language law.

Bill 96, the province’s overhaul of the Charter of the French language, was adopted into law at the National Assembly Tuesday. The law’s wide scope limits the use of English in the courts and public services, and imposes stricter language requirements on small businesses, municipalities and CEGEP students.

One of the law’s clauses calls on newcomers to learn French within six months of arrival, after which they can no longer access most public services in another language.

Community workers say that could make it difficult for their clientele to access justice and even complete daily errands, pushing some further into isolation and vulnerable situations.

They believe Quebec is creating a two-tiered immigration system, where people fleeing strife who speak only rudimentary English could be discouraged from coming to the province despite growing labour needs. Meanwhile, the province is relying on an increasing number of temporary foreign workers in low-wage jobs to fill significant labour shortage gaps.

“We really feel discriminated against,” said Evelyn Calugay, who runs PINAY, a Filipino women’s rights group.

Filipinos coming to Quebec are often compelled to fill precarious jobs, such as domestic work, leaving them little time to learn French, Calugay explained. They already come from a country with eight major dialects, she noted.

Calugay, who is 76 and came to Quebec in 1975 when the province was desperate for nurses, said it took her a year of full-time French classes to get to a point where she could understand and be understood in French.

“We learned English in school because it was taking from the American system, so the language was imposed on us, and before that our ancestors were forced to speak Spanish,” said Calugay. The Philippines was a colony first of Spain, then the United States until it gained independence after the Second World War.

Calugay said she appreciates the importance of preserving the French language, and following the laws and customs of Quebec and Canada, but that the revamped language charter now feels coercive, rather than a way to promote French.

“We don’t even encourage temporary workers to come to Quebec for now,” she said.

Legault shifting focus to immigration

Premier François Legault told reporters Tuesday after the law passed that he wanted to turn his focus to making sure a larger number of immigrants accepted into the province already speak French, noting he would be making it a campaign issue in the upcoming election.

He said his government has increased the proportion of its selection of immigrants who speak French from 55 per cent to 84 per cent, but that the proportion of French-speaking immigrants accepted into the province by the federal government was only about 50 per cent.

While Quebec manages economic immigration to the province — a power other provinces and territories in Canada do not have — the federal government is responsible for the admission of refugees.

Calugay points out that if Quebec’s powers are extended to include refugees, the province could effectively limit admissions from certain countries based on their French proficiency, while bringing in more temporary foreign workers, who mostly hail from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

“Because that’s cheap — what does a capitalist want? Cheap labour, of course,” she said.

Mostafa Henaway of the Migrant Workers’ Centre agrees with Calugay that the government appears to be prioritizing temporary migrant work in order to appease its voter base.

“There’s this idea that they want a temporary and sort of disposable, flexible workforce,” Henaway said in a phone interview.

“So, the CAQ can say it reduced permanent migration. Then at the same time, they can say they increased the number of temporary migrants and protected the French language.”

He said the six-month clause means vulnerable workers and immigrants in all kinds of situations could have trouble understanding and making themselves understood when it comes to denouncing abuse.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far rejected Legault’s calls for Quebec to have complete control on immigration into the province but has pointed to Bill C-13 tabled by the federal Liberals, which in part aims to increase immigration from French-speaking countries.

In a statement to CBC News, Jean Boulet, the provincial minister responsible for immigration, labour and francization, said prioritizing French-speaking immigrants is important for Quebec, “given the French character of Quebec and the issues in sustaining the official language of Quebec.”

“Temporary workers are essentially the responsibility of the federal government and there is no threshold limiting the arrival of this category of immigration,” Boulet said.

In 2021, nearly 24,000 temporary foreign workers were employed in Quebec, the highest number yet in the province and up from about 17,000 the year before. Quebec announced last year it had signed a deal with Ottawa for companies in the province to hire up to 20 per cent more than that.

When children are the translators

For Rose Ndjel, the director of Afrique au Féminin in Montreal’s Parc-Extension neighbourhood, the challenge posed by the extended language restrictions will be on people who have already lived there for years and may not have easy access to French courses because of time and cost.

Ndjel helps run a local bank of interpreters who speak many of the more than 130 languages present in Park Ex, such as Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Lingala, Urdu and Tamil.

Ahead of the law’s adoption, she said a local school board employee contacted her asking for interpreters to translate teacher meetings to parents.

“The people who speak French in Parc-Extension are people who moved here from other neighbourhoods,” Ndjel said, referring to the growing gentrification in the area.

“Otherwise, it’s the children who go to the elementary and high schools in French who speak the language.”

She said children sometimes miss school to help translate services, such as at doctor’s offices, for their parents or grandparents.

“That will happen even more with this law,” Ndjel said in French. “Parents won’t be able to do anything without their kids. Unfortunately, that’s where we’re at. Children’s health is at stake.”

Source: Immigrants in Quebec could struggle to have rights respected under new language law

Indigenous leaders say Quebec’s language bill colonial, paternalistic

Of interest and a reminder that Indigenous rights can collide with Quebec linguistic and other policies:

Indigenous leaders in Quebec say the government’s French-language bill is destructive, paternalistic and could put the survival of First Nations languages at risk.

Bill 96 would push Indigenous students to pursue higher education outside the province, Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, told reporters Tuesday in Quebec City.

“It’s a staggering irony, that the first inhabitants of the land in Quebec are being forced to study outside their territory; that’s something we find unacceptable,” Picard said at the legislature.

Bill 96 makes several amendments to Quebec’s signature language law, known as Bill 101. If passed, it would reinforce rules about the use of French in workplaces, the civil service and the justice system. The bill would also require students at the province’s English-language junior colleges to take three additional classes in French.

John Martin, chief of the Mi’kmaq council of Gesgapegiag, on the Gaspé peninsula, said many Indigenous communities were historically forced to speak English and that requiring young people to master a third language — French — would make it more difficult for them to succeed.

“If our communities are going to be able to flourish, education is a key component, but remember also that education has been used as one of the key factors in the assimilation of our people and the destruction of our cultures and the destruction of our languages, and that is why this government needs to sit down and listen to us,” Martin said.

“It is a destructive bill. It is a continuation of the kind of colonialism, paternalist and extinguishment activities that governments successively have conducted since their establishment on these territories.”

Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer, grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, located near Montreal, said the bill could also impact access to justice.

“We do not want to see this bill move forward without any kind of exemption or consideration of Indigenous people, our languages, our cultures that have been here since time immemorial,” she said. “The way that this government is conducting itself is very dismissive and it disregards us and our long history and our presence on these lands.”

Sky-Deer said the Indigenous leaders want a meeting with Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for the legislation. She said if the minister doesn’t meet with Indigenous leaders, community members will have to resort to taking other actions.

The Indigenous leaders were invited to the Quebec legislature by the opposition Liberals and Québec solidaire. While the Liberals have said they plan to vote against the bill, Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé said her party plans to vote for it.

Source: Indigenous leaders say Quebec’s language bill colonial, paternalistic

McWhorter: Don’t sleep: Linguistically, Black Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time

Of interest:

In March, at the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, one panel presentation was of particular interest: It concerned requirements in first-year college composition classes and discussed the idea that for students whose home dialect is Black English, or another nonstandard dialect, requiring them to write in standard English is a potentially unjust, if not flatly racist imposition, forcing some students to suppress their true selves in favor of a hegemonic artificiality. This school of thought holds that writing instructors should allow — encourage — such freshmen to write either purely in their home dialect or to engage in “code-meshing,” mixing the home dialect and the standard.

It’s an approach that accomplishes the feat of both underserving Black English speakers and diminishing Blackness.

During the panel’s Q. and A., an attendee presented this question: “What do we do when the resistance to code-meshing, for example, in our writing classrooms, comes from our BIPOC students? I ask because, of my attempts to encourage students to use their home dialects in writing, Black students in particular often resist those practices as setting them up for failure. Which only reflects how ingrained they are in a system that is inherently racist.”

The question and the panelists’ answers were quite revealing, including one from Asao Inoue, a rhetoric and composition professor at Arizona State University, who responded that when he hears that kind of objection from a student, he asks himself:

Is it that I have to say, or I have to create a classroom, and a learning experience, that demeans the linguistic history of that student in order for that student to go into the world and go into unfair racist, white supremacist systems and succeed? … Because if that student says, “You’re setting me up for failure,” what they’re saying is, “I want to succeed in that unfair system. I want to game that system.”

But, Inoue continued:

You’re always still going to be Black, or you’re always still going to be Latinx, or you’re always still going to be something else. … you can mouth the words that are white, but they’re coming from a body that’s something else, and you may be read that way. And so, for me, my goal as an educator is to change the system.

Because, he said:

What they’ve been exposed to is capitalist-inflected [expletive] about education being the way in which we, you, become a nice little cog in the system and you get skills. So you can go out in the world and make Microsoft more money.

While not all writing professors would go that far, in terms of appending a critique of capitalist reality to teaching freshman composition, just the notion that standard English is exterior to Black students’ real selves requires a closer look, because it tracks with worrisome currents in the way we are encouraged to think about race, especially lately.

Few familiar with today’s academic world will find Inoue’s opinions especially surprising. The idea in education circles that standard English functions as an unjust “gatekeeper,” holding back students of color, has been around for a long time. Related has been the idea that at the grade-school level, Black students whose home dialect is Black English should be taught as bilinguals of a sort. Adherents of this philosophy don’t say standard English should be withheld but suggest that standard English and Black English should be presented as different languages, as it were. Recall the “Ebonics” debate that gained national attention in the 1990s.

In 1993, English Leadership Quarterly, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, published a piece by two Indiana University of Pennsylvania English professors, Donald A. McAndrew and C. Mark Hurlbert, arguing that:

Writers should be encouraged to make intentional errors in standard form and usage. Attacking the demand for standard English is the only way to end its oppression of linguistic minorities and learning writers. We believe this frontal assault is necessary for two reasons: (1) it affords experienced writers, who can choose or not choose to write standard English, a chance to publicly demonstrate against its tyranny and (2) if enough writers do it regularly, our culture’s view of what is standard and acceptable may widen just enough to include a more diverse surface representation of language, creating a more equitable distribution not only of the power in language and literacy but also, ultimately, of the power in economics and politics that language and literacy allow.

Later, as The Washington Times reported in 1995, the N.C.T.E. discussed eliminating “English” from its name. That year, a delegate to its annual convention said, “If we are to offer diversity, there can be a conversation about language arts, but not about English.”

But in the same way that the idea of eliminating references to “English” strikes most as overboard, the idea that for Black people standard English is something wholly apart is simply inaccurate. For most Black Americans, both Black and standard English are part of who we are; our English is, in this sense, larger than many white people’s. In “The Souls of Black Folk,” W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not … I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension.” On a less exalted level, a great many Black people toggle endlessly between standard and Black English, day in and day out — we code-switch. I always liked how Gloria Naylor was able to get this across, as in this scene from her novel “Mama Day”:

“We ain’t staying long,” Ruby says, pulling up a chair. “But I thought it would be nice for us to meet Cocoa’s new husband.”“It’s a pleasure,” George says.“Doubly mine,” says Ruby. “And this here is my new husband, Junior Lee.”“Pleasssurre.” Junior Lee manages a nod. “Hear you a big railroad man.”“No, I’m an engineer.”

In that exchange, the characters aren’t dipping in and out of what they think of as a cold, alien dialect. They are sounding subtly different notes according to which dialect they render each thought or gesture in. Standard English forms are as much theirs as Black English ones.

Communicating in this way, Black Americans are doing what other people do worldwide, living between two varieties of a language. Swiss people’s formal Hoch Deutsch is almost a different language from the Swiss German they speak informally. The Arabic speaker typically controls both the Modern Standard Arabic derived from the language of the Qur’an and used in formal settings and a local dialect used for real life, like Egyptian or Moroccan.

People in these countries and beyond would find familiar Maya Angelou’s observation in “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” couched as completely unremarkable:

In the classroom we all learned past participles, but in the streets and in our homes the Blacks learned to drop s’s from plurals and suffixes from past-tense verbs. We were alert to the gap separating the written word from the colloquial. We learned to slide out of one language and into another without being conscious of the effort. At school, in a given situation, we might respond with “That’s not unusual.” But in the street, meeting the same situation, we easily said, “It be’s like that sometimes.”

To give some credence to those freshman-comp panelists, we might say that Angelou could have turned away from the “That’s not unusual” and that Du Bois could have considered that in real life Shakespeare, Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius might have looked down on him as some kind of “Aethiope.”

But subordinated and even despised people can, over time, with full awareness of the unjustness of racism, embrace even a foreign language, as opposed to a dialect, that is initially forced upon them. They can come to process it as a part of who they are, as people existing at a particular time, amid a dynamic synergy between the then and the now, the us and the them, the imposition and the resilience.

Many Indians, for instance, cherish English as one facet of the expression of modern Indianness, despite its imposition under colonial rule. Not long ago, I took in Netflix’s Bollywood romantic comedy “Love Per Square Foot,” in which the characters speak “Hinglish,” a neat blend of English and Hindi, a common linguistic phenomenon among many people in India and throughout the Indian diaspora. In the movie, there is nary a suggestion that the English feels to the characters like a spritz of cold water on every second sentence from a mustachioed British imperialist. In the same way, Congolese people go back and forth between French, their African lingua francas such as Lingala (memorably featured in, for example, the documentary “When We Were Kings”) and local indigenous languages few have heard of beyond where they are used.

Too often, what we’re presented with as authentically Black is a kind of essentialization. The idea that people’s authenticity stops at their home dialect does not reflect how people operate linguistically or their experience. Foisted on Black Americans, this idea of the standard dialect as a quiet menace, whatever its progressive intentions, is limiting. Even if the idea is not to ban the standard from a curriculum, if standard English is presented with an eye roll as the province of The Man, this is based in a conception of Blackness needlessly smaller than the reality of it.

Linguistically, Black Americans can and do walk and chew gum at the same time, like countless people around the world — and like it.

Source: McWhorter: Don’t sleep: Linguistically, Black Americans can walk and chew gum at the same time