In an interesting turn of events, the Québec Minister
responsible for the application of the Charter of the French
language (the Charter) has recently published in the Gazette
officielle du Québec, a draft regulation that
proposes to amend the "Regulation respecting the language of
commerce and business" (the regulation). The proposed draft
regulation aims to limit the scope of an important exception to
Québec's product labelling requirements.
Under the Charter, text on all labels, products, or documents
accompanying them, must be in French. The Charter allows for
bilingual product labelling, provided that no language is afforded
greater importance than French. The regulation provides various
exceptions to this and other product packaging and labeling rules
— most notably the exception whereby information on a
product may be exclusively in a language other than French provided
the product comes from outside the province and the information is
engraved, baked or inlaid on the product itself.
Current regulation provides that this exception does not apply
to safety notices, a provision that the proposed draft regulation
does not intend to change. The regulation does however propose to
exclude appliances such as ovens, microwave ovens, washers,
dishwashers, refrigerators and dryers from the application of the
existing "baked, engraved, or inlaid" exception. Such an
amendment is likely fueled by the decreased number and availability
of French appliances in the province, and will no doubt have a
costly impact on the electronic and household appliance industries
which readily rely on this exception to circumvent the
Charter's bilingual labelling requirements. In fact, after
numerous market research studies and compliance efforts, the
Office québécoise de la langue
française estimates that in 2009, less than 25 per cent
of appliances were labelled in French, compared to 75 to 80 per
cent of appliances in 1977.
Interested parties have 45 days from the draft regulation's
April 4, 2012 publication date to comment, after which the
regulation may be adopted and become law 11 months after a
subsequent publication in the Gazette.
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