Expanding Into Quebec
According to the Office québécois de la langue française, Quebec has over 7.1 million residents. This sizable economy means Quebec is an appealing market for many Austin organizations but, unlike most of North America, the official language of Quebec is French. The difference in official language creates many opportunities and challenges for organizations conducting, or seeking to conduct, business in Quebec.
The laws established in The Charter of the French Language regarding commerce and business are very clear in requiring the use of the French language in the workplace. For example, all directions, labels, warranties, advertisements, and menus must be in French. The Charter of the French Language further establishes that Québeckers have a right to have their employers promote the use of the French language in the workplace.
English speaking organizations should not, however, hesitate to explore the prospect of conducting business in Quebec. The intent of the Charter of the French Language is not to prevent Québeckers from having access to products or services available from organizations outside of Quebec, but simply to promote the use of the French Language. For example, in June of 2000, a group of pharmaceutical employees established that they had the right to use certain preferable English software at their place of work even though it was not available in French. Additionally, the Charter is quite frank in Title 1, Chapter 7 that an organization can utilize non-French software if no French version exists.
Given the size of the economy, moving a business into Quebec is likely an appealing prospect. An organization should carefully consider the rules, and the exceptions to the rules, before making the ultimate decision about conducting business in Quebec. The Charter of the French Language is very understandable and the Office québécois de la langue française offers many suggestions on the practical application of the Charter. Both of these resources should be considered assessable and helpful when evaluating the opportunities for your organization in Quebec.