“Bill 96 proposes nothing short of the greatest overhaul to Quebec’s legal order since the Quiet Revolution. It is a constitutional project. It would disrupt the two-decades-old social peace around language in Quebec. It would fundamentally change the structure of the Quebec state and legal order. It would upend 40 years of human rights protection in Quebec. It would affect many areas of life for all Quebecers. Its policy basis is questionable. A change of this magnitude requires serious discussions and debate within Quebec society. It ought not to be pushed through the legislature during a pandemic when public attention is rightly focused on health and the economy.”
This Bill 96 has been approved despite objections on constitutional and human rights grounds, the CAQ with the support of QS passed Bill 96 now legislated as The Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec.
ACCM is Quebec’s only English-language community organization that provides support services for people living with HIV or hepatitis C and prevention services to educate youth about Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBI). We strongly believe that health , social, and public health services should be as accessible as possible. Patient-centered care should be the top priority from a public health perspective rather than linguistic segregation. Individuals should not have to worry about how to express their health concerns in a language that they feel less comfortable with and should be able to clearly express all of their needs to ensure the most accurate and responsive health care. In addition, individuals have a right to access health services in English as legislated in article 15 of the ACT RESPECTING HEALTH SERVICES AND SOCIAL SERVICES.
This new law focuses on diminishing the rights of English-speaking Quebecers. A government aiming to protect the French language should do it without discriminating against others. This Law is discriminatory by creating categories of individuals who are deemed ‘eligible’ to receive certain government services. Access to health-care services is a basic human right and should not be withheld. This law will also add a layer of discrimination and many other negative effects beyond healthcare services, for most English-speaking and allophone communities, especially some oppressed communities with intersecting identities that ACCM serves.
Furthermore, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has made clear, respect for Indigenous language rights is an important part of reconciliation. This law is a potential obstacle to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples, not only by threatening access to health services, education and the justice system, but also as a potential barrier to the resurgence of Indigenous languages.
Learn more about bill 96:
- Official Bill 96: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-96-42-1.html
- Overview by QCGN: https://qcgn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Bill-96-QCGN-Prelim-Analysis-2021.05.31.pdf
- Statement by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke: http://kahnawake.com/pr_text.asp?ID=6120
What can you do?
- Sign the open letter to Premier Legault from QCGN: https://qcgn.ca/open-letter-legault/
- Write to your provincial representative. You can find them here: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/deputes/index.html
- If you need help finding your electoral division: https://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/en/electoral-maps/provincial-electoral-divisions/
What is ACCM going to do?
We will keep providing community care in English to people in need who are living with HIV or hepatitis C and reaffirm our commitment to serving allophones too. We stand in solidarity with English-speaking and all allophone communities and against any forms of discrimination.