Bilingualism in the workplace continues to grow

Photo: Pedro Ruiz The Duty
If the vast majority of Quebecers continue to work in French, Statistics Canada note a trend towards bilingualism.

It is a known trend that has become even more clearly : in Quebec, the use of bilingualism in the workplace continues to grow, while the proportion of workers who work mainly in French decreases. Is this to say that the French retreating ? Opinions diverge.


In the last large block of data from the census 2016, Statistics Canada revealed Wednesday that 79.7% of workers in quebec use French on the basis of “predominant” to the job. However, ten years ago, it was 82 %. English as the predominant language of work is also in decline (from 12.4% to 12 %).


The corollary to this is that instead of speaking mainly French or English at work, more and more people speak the two languages ” equally “. So they are now 7.2% to work both in English and in French, an increase of 2.6 percentage points since the 2006 census.


In the region of Montreal, the epicentre of the linguistic issue in Quebec, the proportion of those who speak only or mostly French (that is, the speak of predominantly) increased 72.2 % to 69.6% in a decade. English as the predominant language has recorded a decline of a point (17.9 per cent). English-French bilingualism represents the daily life of 11.2% of workers in montreal.


“The picture is complex,” notes Jean-Pierre Corbeil, co-author of the report from Statistics Canada. Yes, the phenomenon of bilingualism in the workplace seems to be continuing. But when we look at the use at least the regular of French at work, it is stable to 94 %. We also note that non-native speakers make less use of English as the predominant language of the workplace, and that it is for the benefit of the French… “


With a different methodology, Statistics Canada is substantially the same results as the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) when it comes to draw up the portrait of the state of French in the workplace. Last week, the OQLF published a study that noted that 89 % of Quebecers were working mainly in French, and that the use of French at work has increased among allophones.


“There are small differences related to our methods, but the results converge,” said Mr. Corbeil. The spokesperson for the OQLF, Jean-Pierre Le Blanc, used the same words later in the day. “The two surveys are consistent,” he said. All in all, the vast majority of people continue to work in French, but there is this trend to the fact that bilingualism is linked to globalization and the transformation [of the reality] of some sectors of activities. It is necessary, in this sense, remain vigilant. “


Researcher and president of the Association for canadian studies, Jack Jedwab believes in the wake that there was “nothing dramatic” in the Statistics Canada data. “We’re talking about a slight change. But often, there is more attention to the trend of the importance of the trend… In my opinion, in a situation of globalisation and in the north american context that is ours, I don’t think that we should be surprised or worried about the results. “


Stressing that the census has also shown an increase in the rate of bilingualism in Quebec, Mr. Jedwab argues that there is “a diversity that installs itself, and has a tendency to replace the predominance” of French. Normal, in these circumstances, that the workplace reflects this reality, ” he said.


Nothing new for Couillard


In Quebec, premier Couillard noted that ” the use of French at work in all classes [no matter the frequency of its use] has remained exactly the same between 2006 and 2016, which is 94 % “.


“There are people who speak French and other languages in the workplace, was highlighted by Mr. Couillard. It should not be a surprise, and it seems to me something we should expect, given the profile of the population of quebec, and especially Montreal. “


Mr. Couillard has also noted that ” more and more workers with English as mother tongue or as a third-use French. It has increased among anglophones, it has increased significantly in [the allophones]. “


The prime minister recalled that he “must continue to be vigilant,” but he added that ” portray the situation as a disaster or a crisis, it is absolutely not in conformity with reality “.


The tip was addressed to the leader of the opposition, Jean-François Lisée, who described Mr. Couillard of ” jovialiste language “. According to Mr. Lisée, the passive attitude of the liberal government in the issue of French in the workplace distorts the spirit of bill 101. “Camille Laurin [the father of the Law] said,” everyday language and everyday work, except “. The prime minister, himself, said : the exception should be the rule. “


The director-general of the Mouvement Québec français, Eric Bouchard, is worried about him as of data released on Wednesday. “It is extremely negative when it comes out of the percentages and look at the absolute figures, he argues. There are 73 000 fewer people who speak French predominantly. I don’t know how you can see the glass half full in these conditions. “


Mr. Bouchard believes that “progress in one small area [the data on the allophone, for example] can not offset the overall decline” that the report from Statistics Canada reveals, according to him.


The data of the federal agency show that the use of third languages (other than French and English) to work in Canada remained stable, at nearly 5 %. In Canada outside Quebec, nearly 98.6% of workers use English on a regular basis — again, this is stable.

“Hello-hi “, an irritant ?

Philippe Couillard and Jean-François Lisée have launched arrows Wednesday on the use of a “hi-hi” a number of shops in Montreal. Mr. Lisée has tried to find out if Philippe Couillard is “irritated” by this practice. “What a ridiculous question !” replied the prime minister, who saw in it the expression of a ” policy of retreat “. Mr. Couillard argued instead that ” there are a lot of irritants, including francophones who do not speak our language correctly, who do not teach properly and do not ensure to ensure a consistent quality in the French language “.

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