Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Accessing English services in Quebec as a ‘historic anglophone’

Eva Baldi
Pontiac June 28, 2023
The implementation of Bill 96, also known as “an act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec,” is having English Quebecers feeling the implication of a law that restricts the use of the English language within the province.
As explained by Pontiac MNA Andre Fortin in a discussion with business owners in the summer of 2022, implementation of the new law brings about modifications for residents of Quebec and the manner in which they access government services. While certain services such as healthcare, public safety, and tourism offices will still be available in both languages, there are now additional requirements for accessing certain government-operated services in English.
The term ‘historic anglophone’ was first coined in November 2019 in a speech by Simon Jolin-Barrette, the former minister of the French language. His speech was underlining the future removal of English services under the law. This, however, came with the exception of ‘historic anglophones’ who would still have rights to receive government services in their first language.
In a more recent speech, current French language minister Jean-François Roberge explained that Indigenous peoples, non-Quebec residents, those eligible for English-language schooling and new immigrants (living within the province for under six months) are among those permitted to access services in English within Quebec.
Premier of Quebec, François Legault defined the term ‘historic Anglophone’ in an interview by saying: “It’s defined in Bill 101,” Legault said. “It’s people who learned English or went to English schools in Canada.”
According to an interview with Roberge, the identification of ‘historic anglophones’ will be based on the honour system and governments will be operating on “good faith”. Government officials will be authorized to ask a few questions to identify the individual as someone with the right to service in English and no identification cards will be distributed.
According to the government of Quebec website, the government respects the English populations’ rights to receive health and social services in English. However, it is noted that this is contingent on the structure of the organization providing the services as well as the “human, material and financial resources of the institutions.”
Simply put, if the institution does not have the manpower nessesary, it is possible that the historic anglophone will not receive their services in English despite their self-declaration.


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