The vitality of the French language in Montreal has been making headlines for months now, mainly in regards to the language in which people are welcomed and served. The statistics prove it; it is in Montreal that the French language is most significantly undermined. An OQLF study revealed that close to a quarter of the population mainly uses English in public and that the proportion of businesses that welcome their clientele in French has gone from 84.2% in 2010, to 74.6% in 2017.
The City of Montreal in fact launched its very first Plan en matière de la valorisation de la langue française, to address this issue and bolster francization efforts. A broad consensus for taking action is emerging in economic, social and political sectors. All agree on the necessity of working in collaboration with socio-economic partners in order to generalize the presence and use of French, in particular in Montreal’s tourism and commercial downtown area, and to more effectively support francization efforts.
We therefore propose to:
Ensure the vitality of French, by giving Montreal’s tourism and commercial downtown area back its strength, image and French accent, including through supporting specific measures to welcome and serve in French;
Create a team dedicated to the promotion, support and francization of businesses in Montreal’s downtown area, in collaboration with the city and the business sector;
To support and further encourage initiatives like the J’apprends le français, Le français, ça compte! and Réussir le virage numérique de ma petite entreprise programs in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, which aims to support French-language learning in small businesses.
By deploying efforts of this nature, we believe that we can change the image of the downtown area and, at the same time, support our metropolis’ economic vitality.
Moreover, given that Montreal is world renowned as one of the best student cities on the planet, it attracts an enormous number of students from all across the globe. This pool of international students offers a unique opportunity for Quebec to position itself as a welcoming, French-speaking land, but also satisfy our significant workforce needs. However, if we hope to increase retention among these students at the end of their studies, we have to allow them to master the French language and work in French. Currently, students who want to further their knowledge of the French language have to study independently and at their own cost at the campus they attend, or take classes that are less adapted to their pedagogical or geographic situation.
We therefore propose to:
Deploy satellites of the Ministry of Immigration, Francization and Integration on each of Montreal’s university campuses. With free service that is readily available at their place of study, we will be promoting international students’ efforts in francization and integration, as well as their socio-cultural knowledge of Quebec.
The proposals we are advancing are the result of thorough reflection following several consultations.
In order to undertake this process, we first identified the fundamental principles that should guide us. It was important for us to identify the foundations upon which all Quebecers of all origins could readily unite and rally.