OQLF cracking down on appliances
First it was English trademark names on signs.
Now the Charest government and the Office Québécois de la Langue Française are cracking down on the labels and wording on refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves and other large appliances sold in the province. The government is introducing a regulation requiring manufacturers to put French wording on their appliances, with or without English.
Quebec minister for language Christine St-Pierre told CJAD News that there are "zero refrigerators sold in the province that have French labelling on them" - words indicating temperature control, humidity or vegetable crisper, for example.
Spokesman for the language watchdog OQLF Martin Bergeron said they get many complaints about the language on products in general: 7000 over the past seven years, with about 1100 cases being investigated on appliances alone.
"People were used to have inscriptions in French on their appliances and you remove that from them, you take it away from them, so of course they don't feel it's right and they complain," Bergeron explained, pointing to the move away from French wording on appliances.
"When you spend some hundreds of dollars on a product, you want it to speak to you in your language," he told CJAD News.
Companies would have to weigh the costs of compliance, says William Polushin, founding director of the International Competitiveness program at McGill University.
"I don't think it's going to be a hard-pressed, forced on manufacturers completely. I think there will be a dialogue. The manufacturer will have to make a decision how to best comply with that requirement going forward," Polushin said in an interview.
"Absolutely in Quebec, the linguistic side of it is an important element they have to think about and should think about if they want the business."
Some companies contacted by CJAD News appeared to be okay with the pending regulation.
"The company will comply with all required regulations," said Caryn Klebba, spokesperson for Electrolux in North America.
Sears Canada spokesperson Alicia Richler said in an email that any changeover will be led by the manufacturers and they will proceed accordingly.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers said it'll wait and see in August, when the regulation is expected to be adopted.
Photos: Shuyee Lee