03/06/2013 12:59 EST | Updated 05/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Quebec's language board voices need for French revitalization

The Quebec government's French language advisory board, le Conseil Supérieur de la langue française (CSLF) says the state of the French language in the province is slipping, especially in the Montreal region.

The Quebec government asked the CSLF to survey the status of French.

The board released its findings today, concluding there is room for improvement, especially in the workplace.

Winston Chan, a member of the board, said the number of people who say French is their main workplace language has dropped significantly since 1989.

"We speak less French, but there's more bilingualism in the workplace," he said.

For Chan, this is an issue because the French language charter designates French as the common language in Quebec.

But Guy-François Lamy, director of legal affairs for the biggest employers' group in Quebec, le Conseil du Patronat, says bilingualism should not be treated as a negative.

"Bilingualism is an asset — not only an asset — it's a necessity in 2013," he said.

"Nothing has shown that being bilingual means that you are less able to speak French."

Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois spoke only briefly about the advisory board's findings.

“I didn’t see this report, but as you know, we’ve already presented a bill based on the perspective that we believe we have to reinforce all measures concerning the French language, so this moves in the direction we hope to take,” Marois said.

Immigrants wait months for French classes

Robert Vézina, the CSLF's chairman, said there are also problems with the French language classes being provided for new Quebecers.

Despite some progress, he said only about 60 per cent of immigrants who need help learning French end up getting that assistance.

He says they often have to wait months to get into a French-language class, and then the French that is taught is not advanced enough to get a job.

The board made a total 27 recommendations to increase the use of French as a part of a report called The Revitalization of French in Quebec.

The recommendations include increased access to French classes for immigrants, who are often left waiting for months for language instruction, according to the CSLF.

The board also suggested government websites be in French only and small businesses get access to French-language training.