Summary of language rights in Canada and complaint mechanisms

La Ville de Montréal 

Normes applicables

la Charte de la ville de Montréal, art 1
La Charte montréalaise des droits et responsabilités, art 13
la Charte de la langue française

The City of Montréal is the largest metropolis in the province of Québec and the second most populous city in Canada. With over one million inhabitants, it forms one of the largest cultural and linguistic conglomerates in the world. However, even though this region is considered the trilingual capital of Canada, French remains the official language of the city according to section 1 of the Charter of the City of Montreal.

The latter supports the Charter of the French Language, commonly known as Bill 101, which establishes French as the official language of the province of Quebec according to section 1.

In addition, given the diversification of the city, in 2005, the City Council adopted the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, Article 13 of which stipulates that “Montréal is a French-speaking city that, according to the law, also provides services to its citizens in English.”

For example, the Charter of the French Language guarantees the following rights:

  • Every person has the right to communicate in French with the Administration, health and social services, public utility companies, professional orders, employee associations and the various companies operating in Québec.

  • In deliberative assemblies, all persons have the right to express themselves in French.

  • Consumers of goods or services have the right to be informed and served in French.

French is the language of legislation and justice in Quebec subject to the following:

  1. bills shall be printed, published, enacted and assented to in both French and English, and statutes shall be printed and published in both languages

  2. regulations and other instruments of a similar nature to which section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867 applies shall be made, enacted or issued, and printed and published, in English and French

  3. the French and English versions of the instruments referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 have the same legal force;

  4. any person may use either French or English in all matters before the courts of Quebec and in all proceedings arising therefrom.

In addition:

  • The Government, its departments, other administrative bodies and their services are designated only by their French names.

  • In its written communications with other governments and with legal persons established in Quebec, the Authority uses the official language.

  • French is the language of written communications within the government, its departments and other agencies of the Authority.

  • No employer shall dismiss, lay off, demote or transfer a member of his staff solely because he speaks only French or has insufficient knowledge of a given language other than the official language or because he has demanded compliance with a right under this chapter.

  • Catalogs, brochures, pamphlets, business directories and other similar publications shall be written in French.
    Application forms, purchase orders, invoices, receipts and receipts shall be in French.

Complaint Mechanisms

There are two (2) language complaint mechanisms applicable to Ville de Montréal: the Office québécois de la langue française à Montréal and the Ombudsman de Montréal.  These two mechanisms operate in parallel. 

(1) Office québécois de la langue française
The Office québécois de la langue française is a government agency whose mission is set out in the Charter and the regulations governing its application. It “ensures that French is the normal and usual language of work, communications, commerce and business in the Administration and in companies”. Since October 1, 2002, in addition to ensuring compliance with the Charter and its regulations, the Office monitors the evolution of the language situation in Quebec.

Language rights complaints regarding can be submitted to the OQLF:

  • Through the online complaint form.

  • If you are unable to complete the form online, you may contact the Agency to obtain a paper version at the following numbers: 514 873-6565 or 1 888 873-6202, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday (except holidays) and transmit it: 

    • by fax: 514 873-3993

    • by mail: Direction de la protection de la langue française, Office québécois de la langue française, Édifice Camille-Laurin, 125 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Québec H2X 1X4

(2) The Ombudsman de Montréal

The Ombudsman de Montréal can investigate almost any decision, action, recommendation or omission of the managers and employees of the City or its agents. The Ombudsman de Montréal generally intervenes only as a last resort, with rare exceptions. Before turning to this office, you must first submit your complaint to the director of the borough or central department concerned and give him or her the opportunity to settle your file.

A language complaint can be submitted to the Montreal Ombudsman: 

  • Through the online form

  • By printing the form in Word or PDF format and sending it to the Ombudsman’s office:

    • By email:

    • By fax: 514-872-2379

    • By mail: Ombudsman de Montréal, 1550 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1150, Montréal (Québec) H3A 1X6

    • By phone: 514-872-8999

  • Through Facebook or Twitter


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