Decline of French as the main working language in Quebec

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Nearly one-quarter of anglophone workers in Quebec used French as the main language of work in 2016.

The working environments are bilingual are more common in Quebec than there was ten years ago, so much so that the use of French as the predominant language has retreated somewhat, according to the most recent census data. A trend that can be explained in part by the decrease in the demographic weight of francophones.


The anglophones and allophones, however, are more many to speak or write primarily in French at work.


Statistics Canada announced Wednesday the latest census data in 2016. These questions focus on the workplace, the language which is used, the travel to get there, the education of mobility and migration within the country.


Although the regular use of French in the workplace has remained steady since 2006, other languages are used more.


The preponderance of the French language has therefore decreased by 2,3 percentage points in ten years, the proportion of workers who use it most often, from 82 % in 2006 to 79.7% in 2016.


In return, the work environments in bilingual where English and French are used equitably increased by 2.6 percentage points during the same period. The proportion of workers using these two languages has risen from 4.6% in 2006 to 7.2% in 2016. Among francophones, the increase is 1.4 percentage points.


“The change is more about the intensity of use of French at work, note the analyst primary research for Statistics Canada, Jean-François Lepage. It is a question of degree of use of languages. “


“It gives the impression that there is less segregation language, but obviously it’s not that,” he continues. There are also all the changes that are related to the labour market. There are areas of employment where one uses more English and it is areas like this that are growing. “


More workers speak or write in English at work in the professional services sector (legal, accounting, engineering, advertising, etc), scientific and technical notes Statistics Canada. Their number has increased from 158 055 in 2006 to 194 640 in 2016. These workers accounted for nearly two thirds of all employees in this sector in Quebec.


This trend particularly affects the greater Montreal region, where the use of French as the main language of work has decreased by 2.6 percentage points, from 72.2 % to 69.6% in ten years.


Since these data on language of work are only collected since 2001, it will have to be patient before knowing whether this trend is here to stay.


“As these are phenomena that change slowly, it’s really a long term that we will be able to see,” says Mr. Lepage. […] Of time, there are demographic trends that are very clear in the time. Here, this is not the case. “


Bilingualism moves in small steps


If the workplaces of the French-speaking bilinguisent, the English-speaking also. They are more and more numerous with the allophones to use French, either as their main language of work or be in line with the English.


Nearly one-quarter of anglophone workers in Quebec used French as the main language of work in 2016, an increase of 1.4 percentage points in ten years. This proportion reached almost 50 % among allophones where the increase is 1.6 percentage points from 2006 to 2016. Bilingualism in the workplace has also seen a substantial increase in ten years for these two categories of workers, rising by 6.0 percentage points among allophones and 4.0 percentage points in English.


In Quebec as elsewhere in the country, very few workers — about 5 % — use a language other than French or English at work and their number decreases. These workers are concentrated in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. They constitute approximately 10 % of the total number of workers in the quebec metropolis and are more likely to speak Spanish and Arabic than any other language.


The use of a language other than French or English at work is especially present in the sector of accommodation and catering, retail trade, health care and social services, manufacturing as well as in the construction industry.


Some aboriginal languages are spoken in the workplace in Québec. The cree, and inuktitut are used by more than 50 per cent of the workers in the three communities located on the territory of quebec, Mistissini, Chisasibi and Kuujjuaq.


Not surprisingly, the English language predominates in the rest of the country. Nine out of ten workers employ only the language of Shakespeare’s work. Its use is on the rise in Moncton, New Brunswick, while the French retreated somewhat in favour of bilingualism.

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