The Quebec French Language bureau, the l’Office québécois de la langue française is adding dozens of new employees and new offices throughout the province.
It includes new inspectors to make sure small businesses are complying with the French Language Charter known as Bill 101.
“Let me be clear: all the action that we table today or in the future about the protection of the French is not against the institution of the English community,” Simon Jolin-Barrette, the Minister Responsible for the French Language, said at a Monday morning press conference.
But some balk at an increase in resources to help enforce the language laws, given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in recent days and the economic struggles businesses are still facing as they try to recover.
“Back off, leave the Anglos alone. Take care of this COVID. Take care of the nurses, take care of the hospitals. Priority number one,” Harry Schick, owner of Swiss Vienna Pastry told Global News.
Schick says his sales are still down 30 per cent compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period and doesn’t think spending taxpayer money to enforce the French Charter makes sense.
The president of the English Rights’ Group, Geoffrey Chambers of the Quebec Community Groups Network, agrees.
“We don’t think it’s all a good use of public funds or a reasonable priority in the circumstances,” Chambers told Global News in a Skype interview.
But Jolin-Barrette disagrees.
“We don’t have to stop doing things because of the COVID-19,” he said.
The minister says there has been a 70 per cent increase in complaints related to Bill 101 in the last year.