Canada: Métro commits to bilingual ingredients at Les 5 Saisons

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This is the latest in a series of articles looking at stores and companies and their language policies in areas with majority and significant anglophone populations, as documented by Hampstead’s Harold Staviss, a lawyer, and Côte St. Luc Councillor Ruth Kovac.

The Metro supermarket chain has committed to bilingualizing ingredients on the pre-packaged products at its Les 5 Saisons gourmet food store in Westmount, The Suburban has learned.


in recent months, Staviss and Kovac have been calling on Quebec-based supermarkets in areas with more than 10 percent mother-tongue English-speaking populations to print bilingual ingredients on their pre-packaged products. Some chains do so, and some do not.

Federal regulations say “local products,” food packaged by the supermarket itself, can have ingredients in one language if it is sold in an area “in which English or French is the mother tongue for less than 10 percent of the residents.” Westmount is an officially bilingual municipality— municipalities have that designation when more than 50 percent of residents have English as their mother tongue.

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On Aug. 29, Staviss wrote to Les 5 Saisons management, pointing out that the ingredients on their pre-packaged products were in French only. The store responded, saying provincial laws require French content, and that English can be added at a store’s discretion, but is not mandatory. Staviss was encouraged to contact Metro head office.

In a further exchange with store management on Sept. 14, Staviss pointed out that the vast majority of ingredients on pre-packaged foods at the Town of Mount Royal Provigo are bilingual.

And then on Oct. 27, Metro communications advisor Geneviève Grégoire responded by e-mail to Staviss that “upon further investigation, we can confirm that you are correct — this particular label falls under the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, as it’s a pre-packaged product.

“The ingredients on the sandwich should therefore be written in both languages,” she added. “The store has committed to reviewing its process to ensure moving forward, all products packaged in-store are bilingual.”

Staviss was pleased with this latest rights victory, and asked Grégoire if all Metro stores subject to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act will have bilingual ingredients.

Stay tuned for that response.

Staviss also commended Les 5 Saisons management for being proactive in responding to his concerns.


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