Bill 96 further entrenches systemic racism

In a devastating decision by Quebec’s National Assembly on May 24, Bill 96, the newest addition to the province’s panoply of restrictive language laws, was officially passed. While the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) presented the bill as another small step to protect the French language, the reality is that Bill 96 will alienate and discriminate against all those who are not French speakers.

As a native English speaker born and raised in Quebec, I’m used to being told I’m a second class citizen because of the language I speak. The Sûreté du Québec, the police force responsible for my protection, is not required to communicate with me in English, regardless of the circumstances. Also, I was only allowed to attend an English secondary school because my parents are English speakers. My children would be forced to go to French schools if I didn’t ask the Quebec government for a document certifying that I graduated from an English high school. By preventing allophone and francophone children from attending English schools, the government is limiting children’s ability to learn a language used globally, in all industries. Moreover, the legislation in force in Quebec seems to contradict the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that children have the right to use their mother tongue and that education must enable children to develop fully in as persons, which is facilitated when done in the child. preferred language.

Bill 96 further delegitimizes my status as a Quebec citizen in the eyes of the government by entrenching my otherness as a non-francophone. I will now have to demonstrate that I am a “historical Anglo” in order to receive medical services in English. If I work for a company with more than 25 employees, I will have to do all internal and external business in French. The obstacles facing white English-speakers in Quebec like myself, however, can hardly compare to the repercussions of Bill 96 for Aboriginals and immigrants.

Since neither group calls itself historically Anglophone, there is no guarantee of the right of Aboriginal people or immigrants to receive health care in a language other than French. Unsurprisingly, the Quebec government uses the term “historic” to grant rights to English speakers, but ignores the fact that Indigenous peoples are the historical guardians of this land. The lack of accommodation for Indigenous people proves both that systemic racism still plagues the province and that the government has redoubled its efforts in its attempts at assimilation.

Immigrants can receive services in English during their first six months in Quebec, which is allocated to learning French, but once that time has elapsed, immigrants must navigate French services with the ease of a native speaker. . The communication barriers that the government has set itself the goal of establishing will likely lead to a decrease in the quality of care, an increase in cases of medical malpractice due to poor communication between doctors and patients, or cases where doctors deliberately misinform patients. Racialized patients are already being neglected due to systemic racism in Quebec’s healthcare system and Bill 96 only increases the likelihood of more widespread discriminatory practices.

The targeted racism of Bill 96 extends across government and all businesses and institutions, including the most formative one: education. The bill limits the educational opportunities of young Aboriginal people by requiring them to follow a French-language study program rather than a program determined by their respective communities. Under international and Canadian federal law, Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, which means they have the right to oversee their own political, economic and cultural development. Bill 96 directly contradicts and ignores this right, while invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution for protection against federal challenges.

The Quebec government also restricts educational opportunities for immigrant and native students by capping the number of non-historic English-speaking students who can attend English-language CEGEPs. The targeting of these students by the CAQ is stifling their educational opportunities, which is a clear sign that the party is not invested in the future of minority groups in the province.

The adoption of Bill 96 disadvantages all non-Francophones, but Aboriginals and immigrants are more affected than Anglophones. The bill institutionalizes and legitimizes the racist ideal of assimilation of racialized and non-francophone groups in Quebec. It also makes emigration an attractive option for all those whom the bill discriminates against, a consequence that is in line with the Quebec government’s desire to create an entirely French-speaking population. Ultimately, Bill 96 joins the ranks of Bills 101, 178 and 86 in the Quebec government’s legislative arsenal that perpetuates systemic racism and discrimination against non-French speakers across the province.

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