To facilitate your integration into Québec society, it is important for you to appropriate and abide by Québec’s key values.
French in Québec
French is Québec’s official language. In addition to an essential instrument of communication, it is the language of:
- The state and the law
- Commerce and business
The Charter of the French language protects and promotes French in Québec. It seeks to ensure the quality, protection and reach of the French language, in addition to making it the common language in Québec.
French at the heart of Québec’s identity
Québec is the only society with a French-speaking majority in North America. That makes Québec a distinct society.
French is used to express Québec culture. It represents a common symbol of belonging to the society.
French as an engine of integration
Knowledge of French is essential to successfully integrating Québec society.
It enables you to:
- Better understand cultural references, and democratic and Québec values
- Develop social ties more quickly
- Develop a sense of belonging to Québec society
- Fully participate in all dimensions of life in Québec society
Knowing French also fosters access to:
- Public services
The Québec government offers you free French courses to facilitate your integration into Québec society.
It is important to note that, to practice a profession governed by a professional order in Québec, you must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the French language in order to obtain a regular permit to practice the profession.
Democracy in Québec
In Québec, democracy enables citizens to exercise their power to elect people to represent them in the National Assembly .
The role of Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) is to:
- Play an intermediary role between the population and the public administration
- Study, analyse and vote on bills
- Question and monitor the actions of the government
Citizens can also run in an election to become MNAs.
Right to vote
To vote in Québec, you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a Canadian citizen
- Be domiciled in Québec for six months
- Meet the criteria of the Election Act
Citizens have the right to vote freely and confidentially.
Rule of law
The rule of law means that no one is above the law. Each person, like the State and its agents, must obey the law.
This is a fundamental principle of Québec’s democratic society.
Moreover, all people are:
- Equal in worth and dignity
- Entitled to equal protection of the law
Participating in democratic life
Democracy in Québec is based on:
- Freedom of expression: Citizens can express their political opinions publicly.
- Freedom of association: Citizens are encouraged to take part in activities organized by associations and organizations related to their daily lives, such as the activities of:
- A tenants’ association
- A union
- A parents’ committee in the school environment
Equality between women and men in Québec
Equality between women and men is a fundamental value of Québec society. Women and men have the same:
- Responsibilities in public and private life
Equality in couples and the family
Women and men have the right to marry or to enter into a common-law relationship with the person of their choice. Québec law considers marriage to be the union of two people of different sexes or the same sex.
The minimum age at which one can marry without the authorization of a court is 18.
A woman and a man living as a couple have the same rights and obligations toward one another and their children. They must share family responsibilities, such as:
- The management of property and finances
- The choice of the place of residence
- The education of the children
- The choice of the values that are important to the family
- The rules of conduct
Any person may also choose to separate or divorce. In the event of divorce, women and men have the same rights and responsibilities.
Equality in the various spheres of society
Women and men are equal in the various spheres of society:
- In education
- On the labour market
- In decision-making and political venues
The Québec education system is based on equality between women and men, and co-education. The criteria for admission to the various programs of study and training are the same for women and men. Access to the different education and training programs is egalitarian. The admission criteria are the same for everyone.
Québec’s objective is equality between women and men on the labour market.
Women and men have access to the same jobs. They are entitled to the same salary and the same working conditions for equal work.
Employers may not discriminate on the basis of sex.
Women have the same economic autonomy as men. A woman may choose to live alone and earn money to meet her needs.
Women may, by themselves:
- Vote in elections
- Decide to marry and to divorce
- Find a job
- Run for election as a candidate
- Sign contracts
- Start a business, etc.
Decision-making and political venues
Québec’s objective is to achieve equal representation of women and men at all decision-making and political levels:
Rights and responsibilities of Quebecers
In Québec, the purpose of the Charter of human rights and freedoms is to raise awareness of human rights and freedoms and ensure they are respected.
The Charter applies to all people living in Québec, regardless of their convictions. It covers various categories of rights:
- Fundamental rights and freedoms
- The right to equality
- Political rights
- Judicial rights
- Economic and social rights
According to the Charter of human rights and freedoms, all people are equal in worth and dignity, and have the same legal protections, regardless of their personal traits or characteristics:
- Skin colour
- Gender identity or expression
- Sexual orientation
- Civil status
- Political convictions
- Ethnic or national origin
- Social condition
- A handicap
In Québec, the rights and freedoms of each person are inseparable from those of others and the common well-being.
The fundamental rights ensure respect for human dignity and protect the values of freedom and equality.
They include the following rights:
- The right to life
- The right to personal security
- The right to inviolability
- The right to personal freedom
- The right to privacy
The fundamental rights also guarantee the protection of:
- Freedom of conscience
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of opinion
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom of peaceful assembly
- Freedom of association
Because the fundamental rights are exercised in society, there are certain limits on their application. They must not conflict with the following principles:
- Democratic values
- Secularism of the state
- Public order
- The Québec public’s welfare
Non-violence is very important to Québec society. It is present in all areas of private and public life in Québec. Québec society encourages conflict resolution through negotiation.
Moreover, discrimination is prohibited in all areas of daily life, such as:
- Access to businesses
- Access to public places
Secularism in Québec
The Québec State and its institutions are secular: their decisions and actions are independent of religious powers. That means that no religion is favoured over another.
The neutrality of the State implies that each person in Québec is entitled to secular services and institutions. The decisions and actions of institutions are independent of religious powers.
Each person is entitled to his or her religious beliefs, to practise them and to express them. It is, in fact, prohibited in Québec to discriminate or harass someone on the grounds of religion. The secularism of the Québec state is thus aimed at ensuring the equality of all people, regardless of their beliefs or religion.
Secularism in the public domain
The value of secularism is experienced in the public domain in Québec. Secularism prohibits certain people from wearing a religious symbol in the performance of their duties if they are in situations of authority, for example:
- New police officers
- New prosecutors in criminal and penal proceedings
- New teaching staff in public elementary and secondary schools
To make it possible to verify people’s identity or for reasons of safety, their face must be uncovered in order to receive certain government services.
Secularism is now enshrined in the Charter of human rights and freedoms .
Last update: November 30, 2020