2016-12-21 00:00:00Running a BusinessEnglishLearn about the basic rules surrounding Bill 101 and Quebec's unique language laws as they apply to small businesses.https://quickbooks.intuit.com/ca/resources/ca_qrc/uploads/2017/03/Male-server-in-bakery-discussing-customer-order-in-French-holding-tablet-and-cheese.jpghttps://quickbooks.intuit.com/ca/resources/business/say-it-in-french-cest-la-loi/C’est La Loi: Get to Know the Charter of the French Language

C’est La Loi: Get to Know the Charter of the French Language

9 min read

With a population nearing 8 million people, Quebec offers business opportunities that can be attractive and lucrative for you as a small business owner. With 85% of the population’s first language being French, you need to adapt to the province’s unique character and place within Canada. While the legal system in Quebec differs from the rest of Canada, there are many more factors to consider when hanging out your shingle here. Over the years, Quebec adopted strict laws to protect and promote the use of French by businesses. As a business owner, it’s a good idea for you to understand some of those laws before expanding your small company to the Quebec market.

The Charter of the French Language

Known generally as Bill 101 — from its original bill number in the provincial national assembly — the Charter of the French Language is the main law that governs the use of French in government, schools, and business. It’s administered by the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQFL). The OQLF publishes several guides — many in English — to help your businesses comply with the existing laws.

Part of the OQLF’s mandate helps ensure that businesses of all sizes comply with these laws. This means there are inspectors who can visit your businesses to inspect their operations, and the inspectors also have the power to impose fines and compel changes to practices that don’t meet Bill 101’s standards within your small business.

Signs and Labels

Labelling products you sell in Canada can be a challenge due to the need to factor in the country’s two official languages: English and French. With very few exceptions, Canada’s Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations require you to list certain label items with bilingual labelling. And if you don’t comply, you’re subject to legal action and possible fines. Making sure your labels are in compliance helps you protect your business and keeps your products safely in the marketplace.

What Information Do I Need to Include on My Labels?

Canadian laws require that all of your product labels contain three mandatory things:

  • Product identity: What the product is or what you use it for
  • Product net quantity: The volume, weight, or number of pieces
  • Dealer’s name and principal place of business: Your company name and main location

Canadian laws mandate you include the first two items in both English and French. You have the option of displaying your company name and location in either language. This rule is particularly important for the product identity. If you’re selling gift wrap, the French version, “papier d’emballage”, also has to appear on the product.

If you sell food products, you also need to include the following information in both languages:

  • List of ingredients and allergens
  • Nutrition Facts table
  • Durable life date
  • Claims about health, organic status, nutrients, and additional nutritional information

Exemptions and Special Cases

There are some exemptions to the dual-language laws. What happens if the name of your product is already bilingual? Take cologne — the word itself is French, but it’s also commonly used in English to describe the same product, so you can simply use cologne without finding an English translation.

When it comes to quantity, you must use both English and French unless you’re using only numbers and metric symbols. For example, if you’re labelling a bag of dog food, you only need to put “5 kg.” once on the package, since numbers and kilograms are bilingual for labelling purposes. Do you want to spell out the units? Be prepared to include it in both languages: “5 kilograms” and “5 kilogrammes.

Understanding Legibility and Display Panels

Canadian labelling laws encourage you to include English and French information in the same size font, but they don’t make the same size font a requirement. As long as customers can read both items, and the text meets the law’s minimum size requirements, your labels are compliant. That means if your customers are mainly English speaking, you can include the French equivalents in a smaller typeface.

In most cases, the law says you should display both English and French information on the main display panel of your label. If your packaging has another panel that’s the same size and prominence as the main panel, you can put one language on each panel. You can also group the English and French versions separately or alternate them.

What about Quebec?

Quebec has its own labelling requirements. Since Quebec’s main language is French, all your products sold there require information in French that’s equal or greater in prominence than the information given in English or other languages. All information you include in English also has to appear in French. If you sell toys or games that use any language other than French, Quebec doesn’t allow you to distribute them unless there’s a French-language version already on the market.

Product labelling in Canada might seem more challenging than in most monolingual countries. Learning the ins and outs of Canada’s unique labelling laws and requirements helps you protect your company from legal hassles and keeps your products on the market.

Communication with Employees

Another important aspect of Quebec’s language laws is that your employees can receive communications from your company in the French language. This means more than speaking French during your business meetings or saying “bonjour” in the hallways.

Your company policies, such as workplace safety rules, internet usage, practices, and procedures, must all appear in French and English in the employee handbook, and should be accessible to all employees. As a small business owner, translation is a cost you’ll need to factor in when deciding to do business in Quebec.

It’s a good idea to keep up with the latest laws and regulation along with your company’s financial health. 4.3 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive for free.

With a population nearing 8 million people, Quebec offers business opportunities that can be attractive and lucrative for you as a small business owner. With 85% of the population’s first language being French, you need to adapt to the province’s unique character and place within Canada. While the legal system in Quebec differs from the rest of Canada, there are many more factors to consider when hanging out your shingle here. Over the years, Quebec adopted strict laws to protect and promote the use of French by businesses. As a business owner, it’s a good idea for you to understand some of those laws before expanding your small company to the Quebec market.

The Charter of the French Language

Known generally as Bill 101 — from its original bill number in the provincial national assembly — the Charter of the French Language is the main law that governs the use of French in government, schools, and business. It’s administered by the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQFL). The OQLF publishes several guides — many in English — to help your businesses comply with the existing laws.

Part of the OQLF’s mandate helps ensure that businesses of all sizes comply with these laws. This means there are inspectors who can visit your businesses to inspect their operations, and the inspectors also have the power to impose fines and compel changes to practices that don’t meet Bill 101’s standards within your small business.

Signs and Labels

Labelling products you sell in Canada can be a challenge due to the need to factor in the country’s two official languages: English and French. With very few exceptions, Canada’s Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations require you to list certain label items with bilingual labelling. And if you don’t comply, you’re subject to legal action and possible fines. Making sure your labels are in compliance helps you protect your business and keeps your products safely in the marketplace.

What Information Do I Need to Include on My Labels?

Canadian laws require that all of your product labels contain three mandatory things:

  • Product identity: What the product is or what you use it for
  • Product net quantity: The volume, weight, or number of pieces
  • Dealer’s name and principal place of business: Your company name and main location

Canadian laws mandate you include the first two items in both English and French. You have the option of displaying your company name and location in either language. This rule is particularly important for the product identity. If you’re selling gift wrap, the French version, “papier d’emballage”, also has to appear on the product.

If you sell food products, you also need to include the following information in both languages:

  • List of ingredients and allergens
  • Nutrition Facts table
  • Durable life date
  • Claims about health, organic status, nutrients, and additional nutritional information

Exemptions and Special Cases

There are some exemptions to the dual-language laws. What happens if the name of your product is already bilingual? Take cologne — the word itself is French, but it’s also commonly used in English to describe the same product, so you can simply use cologne without finding an English translation.

When it comes to quantity, you must use both English and French unless you’re using only numbers and metric symbols. For example, if you’re labelling a bag of dog food, you only need to put “5 kg.” once on the package, since numbers and kilograms are bilingual for labelling purposes. Do you want to spell out the units? Be prepared to include it in both languages: “5 kilograms” and “5 kilogrammes.

Understanding Legibility and Display Panels

Canadian labelling laws encourage you to include English and French information in the same size font, but they don’t make the same size font a requirement. As long as customers can read both items, and the text meets the law’s minimum size requirements, your labels are compliant. That means if your customers are mainly English speaking, you can include the French equivalents in a smaller typeface.

In most cases, the law says you should display both English and French information on the main display panel of your label. If your packaging has another panel that’s the same size and prominence as the main panel, you can put one language on each panel. You can also group the English and French versions separately or alternate them.

What about Quebec?

Quebec has its own labelling requirements. Since Quebec’s main language is French, all your products sold there require information in French that’s equal or greater in prominence than the information given in English or other languages. All information you include in English also has to appear in French. If you sell toys or games that use any language other than French, Quebec doesn’t allow you to distribute them unless there’s a French-language version already on the market.

Product labelling in Canada might seem more challenging than in most monolingual countries. Learning the ins and outs of Canada’s unique labelling laws and requirements helps you protect your company from legal hassles and keeps your products on the market.

Communication with Employees

Another important aspect of Quebec’s language laws is that your employees can receive communications from your company in the French language. This means more than speaking French during your business meetings or saying “bonjour” in the hallways.

Your company policies, such as workplace safety rules, internet usage, practices, and procedures, must all appear in French and English in the employee handbook, and should be accessible to all employees. As a small business owner, translation is a cost you’ll need to factor in when deciding to do business in Quebec.

It’s a good idea to keep up with the latest laws and regulation along with your company’s financial health. 4.3 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive for free.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

Related Articles

Factures impayées : cinq façons d'obtenir l'argent qui vous est dû

Les factures impayées ne sont pas seulement frustrantes, elles ont également un…

Read more

QuickBooks en ligne soutient les activités commerciales de WayOutfitters

En 2014, Janel Boire-Paquette et Francis Desrochers, deux jeunes entrepreneurs québécois alors âgés…

Read more

Using the CRA's New LOI and LOAR Programs to Assist Your Clients

The Liaison Officer Initiative and Liaison Officer Assistance Request programs help small…

Read more