Christopher Skeete, the MNA responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, says the province will stand its ground when it comes to bilingual signage at a Lachute hospital.
“I think the premier was quite clear in his statements that we’re going to be supporting the decision that happened there,” said Skeete.
“But at the same token, we should never forget this has no incidence on services that are being rendered to the English-speaking population.”
Earlier this month, a decision from the Lachute hospital caused an uproar.
After a meeting from the Office québécoise de la langue française (OQLF), the hospital decided to remove English-language signage from its facility.
The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) believes the government is being too strict with their interpretation of the province’s French-language charter.
“If their idea is that an extremely literal, narrow and a historical — in other words, not what Parti Québécois governments have done — more strict application of Bill 101 is their way of going then they cannot at the same time argue that they are respecting our right to access English-speaking services,” said QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers.
While the possibility of bringing back the English signs to the hospital seems to be slim — Skeete says there are ongoing conversations internally on how to apply the language law going forward.
“I do think that we need to rethink our positions in terms of how we apply law 101 in certain instances,” said Skeete.
“But at the same token, that doesn’t negate our obligations to follow the laws of Quebec.”
As for the hospital and the surrounding communities, they say they’re going to make the best out of a bad situation.
Elected officials in the lower Laurentians are working on a temporary solution. They would like to see more English signs inside the hospital to compensate for the loss on the outside.
“We have six French mayors, three English and we were all in favour of finding a way to move forward and improve services so the people here understand that it’s not a local issue,” said Scott Pearce, mayor of the Township of Gore.
“We just got caught up in the meat grinder which is the bureaucracy of a Quebec government.”