Montréal, December 5, 2012 – The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has reviewed the bill tabled today in the National Assembly to amend the Charter of the French Language, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and other legislative provisions, and calls on the government to ensure that the new measures are applied intelligently and with discernment.
“The city’s business community is convinced that French is an important foundation of Quebec society,” says Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “It recognizes the need to ensure its continuity in a predominantly Anglophone North American environment and in a context of rapid globalization. The challenge is to strike the right balance between promoting French and the demands created by English being the international language of business.”
“Bill 14 tabled today by the government has a very broad scope and includes many measures that touch on language in the workplace, language of education and immigration,” Michel Leblanc says. “The Board of Trade will analyze the implications of these measures in the coming weeks. We will consult with the business community to ensure that these measures do not unduly hamper the development of our economic base. The widespread use of French is essential to the development of Quebec society, but our economic competitiveness is equally so.”
“We welcome the decision of Diane De Courcy, Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities and Minister responsible for the Charter of the French Language, not to extend the application of the new measures to businesses with fewer than 26 employees,” Mr. Leblanc says. “For a number of years, we have been advocating a voluntary and incentive-based approach with very small businesses, in particular through our French in the Workplace program and by offering a single information source for francization.”
“However, we are concerned about certain risks this bill creates,” Michel Leblanc says. “The government must ensure that the many measures do not place any additional administrative or financial burden on small businesses. The measures regarding businesses must not give bureaucrats the power to set corporate hiring policies or define job descriptions. Company managers are in the best position to determine their labour requirements. The government must show restraint and avoid interfering in business decisions.”
“And as we pointed out in our Strategic Forum on Friday, attracting and retaining talent are a strategic priority for keeping head offices here and ensuring the prosperity of Quebec and its largest city,” Mr. Leblanc says. “We must avoid limiting the potential labour pool for local companies. We can indeed choose candidates with a more limited command of French, but who meet the needs of the job market, and then help them improve their French. We would also like to reiterate our recommendation to increase the number of immigrants.”
“Finally, the city’s multilingual character should be seen as a strength, particularly in a context of economic globalization and integration,” Mr. Leblanc says. “The bill must allow local businesses to continue to exploit this advantage.”
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is made up of some 7,000 members. Its mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montréal and to provide individuals, merchants, and local businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity, and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec's leading private economic development organization.
Advisor, Media Relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Phone: 514 871-4000, extension 4015
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