In Quebec, foreigners have six months to learn French

Law 96 adopted at the end of May in Quebec on the official and common language displeases several groups, including the Round table of organizations serving refugees and immigrants (TCRI), which represents 159 organizations.

In a notice tabled before the adoption of the legislative text, the TCRI expressed concern about imposing it as the only language in public services and giving immigrants six months to learn the language of Molière. On his sitethe government party Coalition avenir Québec indicates in this regard that “exceptions are provided in Bill 96 for health, safety or where the principles of natural justice so require”.

Deadline deemed too short

But linguists questioned by The Press consider this six-month delay to obtain a high level of French as unrealistic. Asked by Expat Mail, French TCRI project officer Élodie Combes agrees: “To understand as a parent an intervention with a school vocabulary that teachers use or even as a patient a medical communication concerning his health, this requires a complex linguistic use”.

According to this worker of Corsican origin who has been living in Quebec since 2009, “it’s impossible for most immigrants and especially for certain refugee populations, people who have trauma, who are elderly, struggling with all kinds of realities, to have such a good command of French in six months to answer these questions of health and education”.

In its opinion, the TCRI stated that “many studies mention the difficulty of learning a language over a period of time”. Especially since “newcomers are also in a process of integration where learning French is accompanied by steps such as finding accommodation, enrolling children in school, finding a employment, family obligations…”

How much time would be considered reasonable for these people to learn to express themselves effectively and to understand what the public services communicate to them? “According to U.S, says Élodie Combes, it should be five years, so that they can both find housing and a job, meet basic needs and receive services only in French”.

Threats to the province’s economy

Because, after six months of apprenticeship, tells The Press Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Phaedra Royle, “we can learn to order a beer or ask where the toilet is, but we can’t talk about philosophy or health”.

In a letter published on June 14, report it CBC, more than 30 Quebec business leaders have asked the Quebec government to postpone the implementation of Bill 96 until there is better support in French, such as tutoring, available for workers. Otherwise, they warn, foreign talent will go elsewhere, which could cause“enormous damage to the economy of the province”.

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