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French language use in the workplace is on the decline: OQLF report

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French is still not the commonly-used language in the workplace in Quebec nearly 42 years after the adoption of Bill 101.

This is one of the conclusions that emerges from a series of studies published by the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) on Friday.

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The report’s summary, which gives a statistical portrait of the recent evolution of the linguistic situation in Quebec, shows that both progress and setbacks have been recorded — whether in the language of instruction, in commercial signage, the language of reception in the shops or language in the workplace.

The findings show over the last 15 years or so, there has been an increase in bilingual French-English workplace environments to varying degrees, depending on the sector.

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The report shows the exclusive use of French in the workplace is on the decline. While the French language is still most often used at work, Quebecers tend to use English more and more regularly during office hours.

The proportion of workers using only French at work fell by from 60 to 56 per cent in the past five years. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable among young people aged 18 to 34, who work in bilingual work environments.

The report also shows that nearly one-quarter of immigrants (24 per cent) use English at work.

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It is on the island of Montreal and the surrounding areas that English is progressing in the workplace, while the proportion of people using both English and French has increased from 10 to 14 per cent in 2011 to 2016.

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Four decades after the adoption of the Charter of the French Language, 13 per cent of businesses with 50 or more employees still have not obtained their francization certificate.

Greetings and signage

The use of the French as an exclusive language of welcome in the shops of the island of Montreal tends to decrease. The OQLF’s report shows that English or bilingual greetings — such as Bonjour-Hi! — are also on the rise.

Reception in French declined from 84 to 75 per cent, from 2010 to 2017. Bilingual greetings doubled from four to eight per cent.

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In 2017, a total of 23 per cent of companies on the island of Montreal had commercial signage that was not in compliance with the law.

During a news conference on Friday, OQLF president Ginette Galarneau had difficulties putting the data in context, as well as identifying and interpreting trends. She refused to answer several questions from the journalists.

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