Canada: Metro, Best Buy commit to bilingualism

Servicio de reciclaje de recogida en el hogar de Best Buy


Last week, we reported that, thanks to the efforts of Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss along with Côte St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac, the head office of Metro supermarkets committed to bilingualize printed ingredients on the pre-packaged products at its Les 5 Saisons gourmet food store in Westmount, which were only in French.

Metro communications advisor Geneviève Grégoire told Staviss that according to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, the ingredients should be printed in both languages at that store, located in a bilingual municipality.


Federal regulations say “local products,” food packaged by the supermarket itself, can have ingredients in one language only if they are sold in an area “in which English or French is the mother tongue for less than 10 percent of the residents.”

Before we went to press, Staviss asked Grégoire if Metro would ensure that all of its Quebec stores in areas where the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act applies would also have bilingual ingredients printed.

Grégoire replied that the “same approach will be applied to stores where bilingual labeling is required,” which means bilingual ingredients printed in stores located in areas with significant English-speaking populations.

A reader informed us that he called the Best Buy store in Pointe Claire, only to find that the recorded phone prompts— directing callers to various departments— were in French only. Pointe Claire is an officially bilingual municipality where more than 50 percent of the population have English as their mother tongue. We called the number and confirmed the prompts were only in French. The same occurred at the LaSalle and Marché Centrale Best Buys.

The reader told us he brought this up at the Pointe Claire store, and was told Best Buy was not obligated to include English prompts, according to Quebec’s language law.

Best Buy public relations specialist Laura Mitchell, e-mailing us from the company’s Burnaby, British Columbia headquarters, confirmed that “it is not a legal requirement to include both English and French language options in our Quebec communications.

However, “while the stores in predominately French speaking neighbourhoods currently use French phone communications, some of our Quebec stores do have bilingual phone prompts.

“We plan to expand the bilingual options to all of our Quebec locations in the near future.”

Stay tuned. We will call the Best Buys again in a few months.


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