U.S. trade officials among those concerned about Québec's new French-language sign rules – CBC News

Alexandre Fallon

Jan 26, 2024

A new regulation under Québec’s Charter of the French Language outlining French-language requirements for storefront signage has businesses in the province and foreign trade officials concerned about the cost of redesigning and replacing their signs. The draft regulation published earlier in January would require signs in a language other than French to be accompanied by French descriptions that are twice the size.

Last week, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said that in a meeting with Canada’s deputy minister for international trade, one of its senior advisors expressed “concerns about trademark provisions of Québec's Bill 96 and their potential implications for U.S. businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Osler Litigation partner Alexandre Fallon believes the province “grossly underestimated” when it pegged a total cost of $7 million to $15 million for businesses to update their signage.

“Anecdotally, I know that these kinds of changes run in the tens of thousands of dollars per location, depending on the significance of the sign,” he tells CBC News.

“When you think about a large location, a big store for example, you will have the trademark at several places on the building. It’s not one sign, it’s potentially multiple signs.”

With a deadline of June 1, 2025, businesses will need to determine quickly if the law applies to their existing signage and, if so, design new signs, get them approved under municipal zoning requirements, and fabricate and install them. And with limited space to add words, Alexandre says, many businesses will have to remove their signs entirely and start from scratch.

“This is a very significant change,” Alexandre explains. “The charter has not been amended to this degree since it was first adopted.”

You can read the full article, “U.S. trade officials among those concerned about Québec's new French-language sign rules,” on CBC.ca.