The Implications of Bill 96 and Its Impact on Translation Services for Quebec

English to Canadian French translation

In mid-2022, Québec passed Bill 96, a sweeping reform bill for the use of the French language throughout the province from Montreal to Quebec City. Here’s what you need to know about doing business in Québec and remaining compliant with English to Canadian French translation.

What is Bill 96?

Bill 96 was passed in the province of Québec in May 2022, a bill that impacts the language requirements of any businesses operating within the province of Québec.

Québec is the only province in Canada that does not have English as the official language; they use Canadian French. This bill aims to strengthen the use of Canadian French and “affirm that the only official language of Québec is French.”

French Canadians take pride in their language, and this bill aims to support the use of Quebec French. The main focus of this bill was amending the Charter of the French Language to restrict the use of English and prioritizes the use of French throughout business processes. The bill imposes obligations on all businesses regarding the use of French and ensures it is the primary language of any company operating out of Quebec.

Main Points of Bill 96 French Canadian Companies Need to Know

Many changes are included in Bill 96 to existing regulations for French Canadian businesses. While you should read it through yourself to ensure compliance and understanding, these are the main takeaways:

  • Reduces the use of non-French trademarks from common law trademarks to only “registered trademarks.” Any existing trademarks in English must be federally registered or translated into Canadian French.
  • Reduces the use of English words on outdoor signage. Outdoor signage in English will need to be rewritten and designed to make the French version more prominent. This includes singular words and phrases.
  • Increases the language requirements for businesses that work with the government and requires all companies to interact with the government and the court in Quebec French.
  • Increases the language requirement for customer services. Bill 96 takes a firm stance on the importance of French in the customer experience. It sets the expectation that businesses working with other companies (“a public other than consumers”) must use Quebec French. Businesses were always expected to serve the public in French, but Bill 96 sets the expectation that “non-consumer clients” (like business-to-business transactions) must also occur in French.
  • English proficiency (or any other language than French) can no longer be a hiring requirement. This rule has some exceptions for certain positions, but businesses generally must conduct the hiring process and documentation in Quebec French.
  • Adhesion contracts, security rights, and other business paperwork must be in French.

In short, if your business is based in Quebec (or in Canada and does business in Quebec) and uses English in any materials, it’s time to reassess. The shortest route to compliance is to present all words and phrases, written, digital, or print, in Canadian French.

Penalties for Being Out of Compliance with Bill 96

Québécois take the French language seriously, and this bill imposes heavier fines and fees for businesses caught out of compliance. In some cases, these fees can reach up to $30,000 and have doubled and tripled penalties for multiple offenses. It also strengthened the reporting system for customers who feel their right to be served in French has been violated. Suffice it to say; it’s expensive to be caught out of compliance.

The good news is that all of the requirements in the Bill did not immediately come into force; some were automatic after the Bill passed, and others are on a timeline of 3 months – 3 years for compliance. This gives businesses time to translate any existing English text or hire a translation company to help conduct an audit on their Canadian French content.

How Bill 96 Affects the French-Canadian Language in Quebec

For companies in Quebec, there aren’t many aspects of business that weren’t touched by Bill 96. While English is still allowed, the Bill states that French translations of all materials must take priority. No translated version can exist “under more favorable terms” than the French version.

Materials that must now be in Quebec French include:

  • Invoices
  • Contracts and security
  • HR and employee-related documents
  • Job postings
  • Product packaging
  • Instruction manuals
  • Menus
  • Ads, including banners, catalogs, brochures
  • E-commerce platforms and online marketplaces
  • Billboards and public signs
  • Contact or contracts with the government
  • Court documents
  • French Website translation
  • Trademarks and logos

How to Comply with Bill 96 in Canada

In layman’s terms, businesses in Quebec need to use more French Language content. Quebec French should be the most prominent and noticeable language on every marketing piece, communications, and business document you use. English is not banned, but Bill 96 strengthens the protections of French as the only official language of Quebec.

Under the new bill, businesses may have a heavy workload to update all materials to remain in compliance. You must use an English-to-Canadian French translation service if you have significant English material without a French version. You are also subject to these regulations if you have an office or a location in Quebec.

One way to tackle this situation is to conduct an internal audit of all the places your business uses English. Once you know your task’s size, you can work with a translation company, and they will assign a professional translator to streamline the English-to-Quebec French translation process to update your content.

While you can do the translation work in-house, the amount of materials Bill 96 requires to be in Quebec French may constitute a massive workload, one that your busy business may not be equipped to handle. Outsourcing the translation project can help you keep the business running while getting up-to-date on the new requirements. This is a perfect moment to use appropriate language technology and project management tools to ensure consistency and best practices in your translation project. Using Computer-assisted tools with translation memory and multilingual glossary features will help during this compliance phase. It will also aid in future modifications of your English and Quebec French document translations. ( link to document translation Services)

In conclusion:

Understanding compliance regarding translating government and business requirements is a complicated task. Still, it can be made more accessible by hiring the right Canadian French translation services. Even if you don’t know where to start, the professionalism and experience of professional translators ( link to blog ) can illuminate the path. At JR Language Translation Services Canada, we go the extra mile to exceed your expectations at affordable prices, and we work to adapt our deliverables to your requirements in time. Contact us for a quote today— we’d love to hear about your translation services requirements.