All 48 municipalities required to adopt a resolution to maintain their bilingual status have now done so, according to research by the City of Côte Saint-Luc.
Since 1977, it has been illegal for Quebec municipalities to, among other things, send a bilingual tax bill, erect bilingual signage, or send a bilingual memo to city workers. An exception was made for some municipalities, which came to be known as bilingual status. This status doesn’t require a municipality to provide services in English. It merely allows it to so do, to whatever extent it wishes.
In Quebec, 91 municipalities have bilingual status. However, the Charter of the French Language was amended in 2022 by the National Assembly of Quebec, with the adoption of Bill 96. One of the provisions stated that a municipality’s bilingual status will be revoked in places where fewer than 50 per cent of residents have English as a mother tongue, which is defined in the federal census as the language first learned and still understood. Bill 96 stated that the municipality can avoid losing its status by adopting a resolution within 120 days of receiving notice from the province. There are 48 municipalities with a population where less than 50 percent of residents have “English as mother tongue.”
On December 12, 2022, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) sent letters to 48 municipalities—including Côte Saint-Luc—giving them 120 days to adopt a resolution or else lose bilingual status. The OQLF also required each municipality post the OQLF letter on its municipal website. Côte Saint-Luc adopted the required resolution on December 22, 2022, and sent a copy by bailiff to the OQLF. On January 6, 2023, the Office sent a letter to the City confirming that its bilingual status had been maintained. Côte Saint-Luc then began contacting the other 47 municipalities to share the text of its resolution in order to assist its sister municipalities.
Côte Saint-Luc confirmed that by the evening of Tuesday, February 7, 2023, each of the 48 municipalities had adopted the resolutions to maintain bilingual status.
“We are satisfied that the 48 municipalities maintained their bilingual status. In doing so, each city, town, village, and borough have signalled that they are providing an extraordinary level of service to their population. We all want local government to be inclusive, and maintaining our ability to communicate in English to our residents is one of the ways we demonstrate this.” – Mayor Mitchell Brownstein
“As the Mayor of Sutton said when his council adopted the bilingual status resolution on January 18, 2023, ‘On impose rien, on enleve rien’ (We impose nothing, we take away nothing). Adopting the bilingual resolution and offering services in English, takes nothing away from the francophone majority. This is the message that must take root in Quebec to counter to harmful message from extremists that portrays the English-speaking community as an existential threat to the majority. The majority and minority language communities have lived side-by-side for hundreds of years, working together, marrying each other, and coexisting. The resolutions at the municipal level show the real Quebec, where people know that their local towns and neighbours treat all residents with respect.” – Councillor Steven Erdelyi