Posted on December 2, 2022

Quebec Plans to Bar Most Immigrants Who Don’t Speak French

Mathieu Dion, Bloomberg, December 1, 2022

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, concerned about the decline of the French language in the Canadian province, has set a new goal for immigrants: They should all speak French.

Legault’s nationalist Coalition Avenir Quebec party was re-elected with a huge majority in October, partly on a platform of protecting French as the dominant language in the province of 8.7 million people. His speech to the legislature Wednesday laid out his priorities for his second term, including a plan to bar almost all economic immigrants who don’t speak French by 2026.

“The objective is to stop the decline of French, in particular in Montreal, and to reverse the trend,” Legault said. {snip}

The policy would apply only to those seeking permanent residency on economic grounds — not to refugees or people entering Quebec on temporary work visas. Legault said about 50% to 60% of economic immigrants selected by previous governments talked French.

The percentage of Quebeckers declaring French as their first spoken language declined 1.5 percentage points to 82.2% between 2016 and 2021, according to data from Statistics Canada. Within the province, 80% of employees now mainly use French at work, while 14% mainly use English and 5% use both equally.

But in Montreal, the province’s largest city, French at work drops to 70%.


Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s economy minister, told reporters there should be exceptions, such as workers in the electric-vehicle battery sector. {snip}