I am a few minutes away from publishing a post on La Fontaine., but …
The events of the week kept away from you. A vein broke near my eyes. My eyes were filled with blood and one eye went from deep green to blue, but I’ve recovered. It didn’t hurt and I am recovering.
The Project: no Language Laws
I will first get in touch with Champlain-Lennoxville, the Advantage programme. Reforms are necessary, and French-speaking students have been enrolling in English-language Cégeps for several decades. It’s their English-language immersion finishing schools and there is no tuition fee. I must then talk to Justin Trudeau and François Legault. Attending a Cégep after grade eleven does not threaten a student’s knowledge of French.
The more difficult step is convincing French-speaking students to have anglophones as their classmates. A few changes are needed. As a university teacher of second-language acquisition, four years at McMaster University, and I wrote articles on the subject, I have the necessary background. I have also edited books on this subject.
Interestingly, people have realized that Internet Archives, Gutenberg, Wikisource have published a wealth of free books including audio texts. I have used these to write articles of every play Molière wrote. Henri van Laun is a scholar.
I am returning to the fables of La Fontaine, but I will be busy working on a better relationship between English-speaking and French-speaking Quebecers. There has to be trust that the French will not lose their language. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham took place a long time ago. We are now a free people, and our official languages are French and English.
The conversation begins. Cégeps are the starting point. French-speaking students themselves have used Cégeps. We keep this alive.
Wherever I phone, I hear: English will follow.
Here is an introduction to Lori Weber. She speaks four languages and is an author.
In the field of linguistics, the word allophone means “other sound.” It is used to describe when a phoneme (the smallest unit of sound in speech) sounds slightly different depending on how it is used in a word. In Canada, this idea of “other sound” is applied to the notion of languages other than French or English. (See Allophone, The Canadian Encyclopedia)
(See Language Demographics of Quebec, Wikipedia)
Having provided figures, we are returning to the subject of Language Laws in Québec.
In 1974, five years after Canada passed the Official Languages Act of 1969, the Liberal Government of Quebec, under Robert Bourassa, passed Bill 22. Bill 22 made Quebec a unilingual (French) province in an officially bilingual country. Many Canadians could not believe that Quebec had declared itself unilingual after the “Canada” question had been solved. The Official Languages Act of 1969 had been passed. So, when Bill 22 was passed, there was an exodus of English-speaking Montrealers, the Province of Quebec’s best taxpayers. They moved to Toronto but soon moved to Calgary and Vancouver. These were their favourite destinations. Bill 101 (The Charter of the French Language) was passed in 1977 by René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois. Bill 96 updates The Charter of the French Language. It was passed in 2021 under François Legault‘s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government.
Introduced by Camille Laurin, Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977) made French the official language of the Government and the courts of Quebec. French became the "normal, everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business." (See Bill 101, the Canadian Encyclopedia.)
The validity of Bill 22 (1974), passed under the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa, and Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language (1977), passed under René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois, and Bill 96, a continuation of Bill 101, passed by François Legault‘s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) has been questioned. It is an assimilative process. Bill 96 is a continuation of Bill 101, the Charter of the French Language. The majority of Quebec’s citizens are francophones, but Quebec has anglophone citizens. As mentioned above, the Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec are a bilingual area, as are other communities. Besides, many anglophones live in the Greater Montreal Area.
Quebec may wish to make French the “normal, everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce, and business.” Still, Quebec is not universally unilingual and therefore promotes unilingualism in an officially bilingual country. Moreover, francisation comes at a price. In the workplace, businesses are supervised by the Office québécois de la langue française, which jeopardizes “doing business,” a foolish policy and one that is calculated to drive anglophones away from Quebec. Businesses are not language schools. Language laws also penalize businesses and other groups (numbers matter) that are not contributing substantially to Quebec’s francization. Companies must comply with Quebec’s francization or be punished.
It must also report to the Office every three years on the use of French in the business.
Languages have terminologies. There are languages within languages. Does l’Office québécois de la langue française have examiners who know all terminologies? But, more importantly, if a bilingual and competent employee can no longer bear the burden of francization, will he or she stay in Quebec. No, he or she will not. Therefore, I genuinely fear losing the experts currently managing my pension fund. They are bilingual, but what I need is their expertise. Competence is my first criterion.
Competence and Francization
On 4 October 2021, I was diagnosed with pericarditis in an emergency ward, but my new doctor told me to buy Voltaren. I still have a large toe. One can develop gout as a result of pericarditis. I had at least five attacks a week for four months of what felt like a heart attack before my doctor prescribed medication. Had it not been for doctors at the Magog hospital emergency room, I would not have been medicated. That happy period lasted two weeks. So, give me a competent doctor. I’ll struggle with the terminology.
I am told that if a business, or other entity, needs a translator, it must be at the cost of this business. Where will this business find a translator? My father worked as a translator for the Canadian Poultryman, which has a new name. He dutifully learned everything about chicken and eggs in French and English, but he could not retire. His employer could not find a replacement for him. So, the magazine is no longer published in French and English. There are steps. First, one learns the language. The article will not otherwise make any sense.
Small localities in the Eastern Townships may have services in English, but if the population drops below the “acceptable” number, they will lose these benefits. If Bill 101/96 is respected, the anglophone population will fall below the good number. Moreover, people are receiving government documents in French only. These used to be issued in French and English. Canada remains an officially bilingual country.
As you know, I oppose language laws. Languages are learned at home and in schools. French-speaking Quebecers, Québécois have been enrolling in English-language cégeps (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel). Cégeps are a two-year pre-university programme, and they are public schools. Students are protesting Bill 96 because they know English is the current lingua franca and wish to learn it. It turns out that Champlain College-Lennoxville, in Sherbrooke, offers an Advantage programme. Students who require special assistance may avail themselves of the “Advantage” and “Advantage +” services. I do not know whether French-language cégeps welcome English-speaking students who wish to learn French. My work is not over.
Le parcours Avantage s’adresse aux nouveaux étudiants qui auraient besoin de temps et de soutien à la réussite pour faciliter leur transition aux études collégiales. Dans ce cheminement, les étudiants suivent plusieurs cours conçus à la fois pour améliorer leurs méthodes de travail et de recherche et pour mieux comprendre leur rôle en tant qu’apprenants. Bien qu’un tel parcours soit d’abord fait pour les étudiants qui ont besoin d’un soutien scolaire additionnel pour réussir au collégial, le cheminement pourrait aussi profiter grandement à ceux qui ont toujours étudié en français en leur permettant d’améliorer leurs compétences en anglais parlé et écrit ainsi qu’en lecture par des cours spécifiquement conçus à cet effet.
This approach could also benefit those who have always studied in French by allowing them to improve their knowledge of spoken and written English and reading skills in English by taking courses designed for this purpose.
John A. Macdonald created “uniform” schools where the language of instruction was English. I have not invented the term “uniform” schools. I have seen it somewhere. As immigrants settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, or elsewhere in Canada, they had to attend English-language schools. Quebec was the only province where children could be educated in French. It created an imbalance, and French Canadians viewed Quebec as their home. This drama unfolded in the “schools” question. In Manitoba, Catholicism clouded the issue. Did Manitobans want French schools or French and Catholic schools? But the Ontario “schools” was unambiguous.
The Ontario schools question was the first major schools issue to focus on language rather than religion. In Ontario, French or French-language education remained a contentious issue for nearly a century, from 1890 to 1980, with English-speaking Catholics and Protestants aligned against French-speaking Catholics.
(See Ontario Schools Question, The Canadian Encyclopedia)
The “Quebec” and “Canada” questions are rooted in the “schools” question. John A. Macdonald lived when the British Empire was at its apex, and he adopted Macaulayism. Thomas Babington Macauley believed that the British had an empire because they spoke English. In Residential Schools, indigenous children were punished if they spoke a native language. French-speaking children were spared that ignominy, but John A. Macdonald’s programme of anglicisation led to the growth of a primarily English-language country and Québécois were minoritized and could not leave Quebec.
Therefore, the French language must be promoted, but this sort of process usually occurs at home and in schools. I wonder if French-language cégeps would welcome English-speaking students. Cégeps are public schools. One does not pay a fee. The process could encourage French-speaking students to polish their French. Terminologies are learned after one has acquired some fluency in a second language, and terminologies are not always extremely complex. If our businessman or woman has been thoroughly frenchified, he or she will not be able to work outside Quebec or French-language countries. What will Quebec have gained?
The age of imperialism and colonialism is over. The French and English nations are Canada’s founding nations. Nations are not easily quantifiable. We, therefore, provide citizens with bilingual documents. L’École acadienne de Pomquet is a model. Pomquet is “home” to 900 inhabitants. But it is very near Antigonish and may attract anglophone students.
I am so sorry I left Antigonish. It was home, and it will always be.
I was tired the day I published this post. I had to rewrite it. I also discovered that it is not possible to tell the exact population of Quebec. I am still a little confused, but the relevant information is available
« L’art enseigne, renseigne. Il révèle l’âme. Nul doute qu’il a le pouvoir d’ordonner en un cosmos le chaos de l’inconscient. D’un désordre, d’une souffrance et d’un déséquilibre, il conduit à la stabilité, à l’harmonie et à la joie. »
(Ozias Leduc, tiré d’une lettre à Paul-Émile Borduas, 1943)
[Art teaches, informs. It reveals the soul. It has, no doubt, the power of ordering into a cosmos the chaos of the unconscious. From disorder, pain, and imbalance, it leads to stability, harmony and joy.]
In a very recent post, entitled Comforting Thoughts, I inserted a link to an article published by the BBC. I am quoting, first, a paragraph from my post, and, second, the article published by the BBC. Nurses are overworked and there are families who do not, or cannot, for lack of money, or time, participate in the care given a mother, a father, a brother, and other members of their family.
“[w]e stayed with him [my brother] the entire afternoon and the little group returned to the hospital in the evening. I stayed home. I don’t want to know how much we paid in parking fees, but if members of his family did not help my brother, he would require the services of at least one professional twenty-four hours a day. A nurse came in to give him morphine and she obviously kept an eye on us, but he wasn’t alone.”
Researching Health Care, I found this article published by the BBC (UK). Home news from abroad. Doctors in Quebec earn approximately three times, perhaps more, the salary of a University teacher in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and they enjoy a lifestyle most of us can only dream of.
When I moved to Quebec, I could not find a doctor. I phoned and phoned and phoned. I was put on several waiting lists, to no avail. The doctors whose office I called always had “more patients than he or she could handle.” I ended up contacting the University of Sherbrooke’s Medical School. A secretary made an appointment for me at a CLSC, Fr / En, a public clinic. I would see an intern. No problem! My intern was a fine doctor and he was supervised. When his internship was over, he asked his supervisor to take me as a patient.
And I am not the only person facing this problem. Last week, I met a young woman who had waited 4 years to find a doctor and was sitting in the waiting area of a public clinic, or a CLSC(Centre local de services communautaires). She would see an intern. I reassured her. She had come to the right place.
As I wrote in my post, doctors were becoming an aristocracy. They work from 9 to 5 (9 to 17 hours) or less, and they may be on call. Some doctors ask that medicine not be discussed in their presence outside working hours: it would be too stressful. They need their rest and a private life.
Of course, but should people go untreated and nurses be so burdened that patient care is neglected. Nurses are leaving their chosen profession.
“Doctors from the Canadian province of Quebec have shocked the world by turning down a pay rise.
Why would anyone turn down a pay rise?
For doctors from Quebec, the answer is simple: patient care.
An eight-year, retroactive deal struck in February would see about 20,000 of the province’s medical specialists and general practitioners receive an annual salary increase ranging from about 1.4% to 1.8% each year [bold characters are mine].
That would mean that the province, which subsidises the bulk of doctors’ salaries, would be on the hook for an additional C$1.5bn ($1.2bn, £840m) by 2023.
It is a fair agreement, according to the unions representing Quebec doctors, who pushed for the deal with the province.
But not all physicians are on board – more than 700 physicians, both GPs and specialists, have signed a petition from Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public [Quebec Doctors for the Public System] saying they do not want the rise, and they would rather have the extra money go to patient care and services. The group represents doctors in the province who strongly support public access to healthcare.
Meanwhile, the province’s nurses are fighting for better working conditions and salaries. A picture of a bleary-eyed nurse posted on Facebook went viral and was shared more than 50,000 times in January.
“I’m so stressed that I have back troubles, enough to keep me from sleeping. I don’t want to go to work because I dread the workload that awaits me,” wrote Émilie Ricard, who said she alone was in charge of caring for 70 patients in one shift. “I come home and I’m crying with fatigue.”
We, Quebec doctors…
“We, Quebec doctors, are asking that the salary increases granted to physicians be cancelled and that the resources of the system be better distributed for the good of the healthcare workers and to provide health services worthy [of] the people of Quebec,” read the letter.
This sentiment has struck a chord with people across Canada and abroad.
At home, the Quebec doctors have been praised by officials, but some of their colleagues have kept mum.
“If they feel they are overpaid, they can leave the money on the table. I guarantee you I can make good use of it,” said the province’s health minister Gaétan Barrette.
Quebec’s physician unions have not commented publicly about the call for less than the agreed-upon pay rise.
In Canada, healthcare is public and run by the provinces, not the federal government, which means that salaries can vary quite a lot from province to province.
The average salary for a physician nationwide was $339,000, according to the most recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
In Ontario, Canada’s largest province by population, the average specialist made C$403,500; in Quebec, they made C$367,000.
Conversely, family physicians in Quebec made C$255,000, while in Ontario they made C$311,000.
The Quebec doctors’ rebuff of a pay rise has put them at odds with many of their colleagues in other provinces.
The Ontario Medical Association has been fighting for higher wages with the province for years.
The province has cut fees twice in three years and the association still has not negotiated a contract with the province.”
End of quotation.
Why should medical doctors be paid three to four times a university teacher’s salary. I suspect that many doctors, those who are doctors mostly for the money, were disgruntled when the Médecins Québécois Pour le Régime Public refused a rise in salary. They may have been motivated to vote Dr Couillard out of office. As for nurses who had to look after 70 patients, they may have believed that the premier was at fault. Not quite!
In Quebec, future doctors enter Medical School after grade 11 + 2 years in a CEGEP (General and Vocational College). They can start earning money earlier than doctors living elsewhere. They are also protected by powerful syndicates. But so few doctors are available that when one retires, his or her patients are devastated. Yet, between 2005-15, a physician’s salary doubled while nurses looked after 70 patients.
What about the wages of an overworked nurse, old-age pensions, and disability benefits? A nurse’s salary does not double in ten years. As for disability benefits, they never go up. The amount is 60% of the salary one earns the last year one works. After 15 years, one’s financial security is endangered. At age 73, now 74, I had to take a mortgage to buy a one-bedroom apartment. But I’m not complaining.
I thank the doctors, the Médecins québécois pour le Régime public, who turned down a rise in salary and I am glad that the working conditions of nurses have been brought to the attention of the world.
Taking care of Jean-Pierre was a full-time occupation, and the nurse assigned to him was looking after other patients. She was a fine nurse, but she was probably relieved to see that members of Jean-Pierre’s family were taking care of him. She did not want to neglect a patient. She told us about the little beds available to family and friends who preferred not to leave a dying relative. We were happy to learn that there were little beds for the family.
Jean-Pierre died graciously. He thanked the staff for the fine care he had received. He thanked the priest who administered the Last Rites and he told all of us that he had simply reached his expiry date: sa date d’expiration, which is a date all of us have to face.
Times have changed. Medical tests are now performed using sophisticated tools that often cost a fortune. Such innovations and other changes have made the cost of healthcare prohibitive. Consequently, it is no longer possible for most individuals to pay health bills out-of-pocket. The rising cost of healthcare has also led to the unaffordable premiums demanded by Insurance Companies and to aberrations such as refusing benefits to the victims of a catastrophic disease. Diseases such as cancer are viewed as pre-existing and therefore uninsurable conditions.
Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies
Insurance companies are businesses and, as businesses, their main objective is to make a profit. They therefore adjust rules and raise premiums accordingly. The same is true of pharmaceutical companies. Medications are priced so pharmaceutical companies make money. It is not possible to make America “great again” by ignoring so obvious a fact as costly advancements in medicine.
A large number of societies, in Europe for instance, have recognized that individuals cannot afford today the healthcare they could afford fifty years ago. Therefore, governments around the world have relieved citizens by funding healthcare, thereby keeping up with the times and ensuring the safety of citizens. The United States has been slow to modify its social contract. But on 23 August 2010, the Affordable Care Act was voted into law.
Life as Privilege
The rules started to change after World War II. Governments around the world, beginning to my knowledge with the Scandinavian countries, set about putting into place, social programmes that protected the people. In the United States, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s New Deal brought relief to impoverished Americans. As for the Affordable Care Act, it is also a new deal that has made it possible for millions of Americans to see a doctor. However, unconscionable and somewhat petty Republican Senators seem bent on destroying it and letting people die, women first. A Republican Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, is therefore making it abundantly clear that life is not a right, but a privilege, the privilege of those who can pay. What will they do if they fall on hard times?
The Affordable Care Act is essential legislation and it cannot be taken away from United States citizens unless Senate has something better to propose and to implement. Societies must face reality. Healthcare is too expensive for individuals to protect themselves. Even those who have health insurance are denied the care they require. Nations therefore need a health plan. Besides, a new administration has nothing to gain by picking up its rifles and shooting at the former administration.
The American Civil War is over and, according to the Declaration of Independence, one has a right to Life.