Quebec premier backs order telling Lachute hospital to ditch English signs
After the Office québécoise de la langue française mandated a Lachute hospital remove its English-language signage, Quebec Premier François Legault says he doesn’t see the importance of bilingual signage.
“They weren’t respecting the law. Bill 101 has to be respected; that’s what we will do,” Legault told reporters.
“Anglophones will keep on having the right to have services in education, in healthcare… so I don’t see the importance of having bilingual signs.”
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) disagrees with Legault’s stance.
“It’s a clear violation of the law and his interpretation is mistaken,” QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers reacted.
“It’s preposterous to argue that you can get healthcare if you don’t know where it is.”
Chambers added healthcare institutions should be the ones making the decision to have bilingual signage, not the province’s language watchdog.
“It’s just not appropriate that some kind of language-driven policy, outside agency, comes in with a formal position that is not to do with the well-being of the patient,” Chambers told Global News.
The government insists that its priority is the law.
“I have been in contact with the relevant ministries,” said Christopher Skeete, parliamentary assistant to the premier for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.
“Our government is committed to respecting existing language legislation as well as guaranteeing access to health services for all Quebecers, including English-speaking Quebecers.”
Watch below: A hospital in Lachute has started removing all English signs from the premises. The reason? The OQLF says the signs do not conform to the province’s language laws.
The Laurentians representative for the Quebec Committee for Anglophone Access to Health and Social Services, Carolynn Roberts, says that even though the hospital has said its services won’t change, the removal of English-language signage is a concern.
“I think that what we really need to have is a discussion about how the language law — 29.1 is the article — how that really impacts health and social services,” Roberts said.
Roberts says that as it stands, Bill 101 is open to interpretation and that when it comes to health and social services, the law needs to be clarified.
“When we’ve been looking at Bill 101, it kind of operates in a silo, a little apart from health and social services,” Roberts explained.
“We’re not talking about how it applies to business, we’re talking about how it applies to the health and safety and well-being of a population.”
The QCGN says they are requesting an immediate meeting with the premier to discuss the matter.
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