PQ pressuring CAQ government to set language targets

The Parti Québécois (PQ) says it has identified a flaw in the government's ambitious Bill 96, which proposes to revamp Quebec's language law: the lack of targets.

The bill was tabled Thursday by the Legault government in the hopes of modernizing Bill 101.

PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon says his party will release a plan Monday explaining how it would promote the French language if his party were to take power in the next election.

The Canadian Press learned Sunday that the PQ wants to pressure the Legault government to set specific targets over the next decade to reverse the decline of French, particularly in Montreal.

The PQ says it wants to see a significant increase of about 20 percentage points when it comes to language transfers to achieve its goal.

By 2031, the party says it wants to see the number of allophones adopting French as their common language rise from about 55 per cent to 75 per cent.

University of Ottawa professor Charles Castonguay notes the issue of language transfers is fundamental to curbing the anglicization of Quebec.

He insists the goal for language transfers should sit at 90 per cent in favour of French if the province really want to see changes.

The PQ is asking that the status of language transfers be evaluated on an annual basis.

Within the next 10 years, the party states it wants to increase the number of Quebecers who predominantly speak French to 82 per cent, where it was at in 2011.

This would mean an increase of about four percentage points.

NO FRENCH, NO SUBSIDIES

The PQ insists the government should also cut off funding to companies that do not respect their obligations when it comes to using the French language; in short, no French, no government subsidies, no loans and no tax credits.

The PQ leader also reaffirmed his party's position when it comes to subjecting CEGEPs to Bill 101, imposing a uniform French exam on English-speaking CEGEP students -- including those who have done all their studies in English -- and banning knowledge of a language other than French in the workplace as a requirement to get a job, unless it is demonstrated that it is absolutely necessary.

St-Pierre Plamondon also said the province should prioritize immigrants in the "economic category" who already have a good knowledge of French before they arrive.

In order to curb the trend of language transfers to English, the immigration thresholds will also be substantially lower if the PQ should be elected, he stated. He did not specify what that reduction would be.

The party also wants to give preference to immigration candidates interested in settling in the regions.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 17, 2021.