The city is officially bilingual. It is 68 per cent francophone and is the largest majority-francophone city in North America outside of Quebec or Haiti, recently achieving a greater population than Edmundston, New Brunswick. (There are higher numbers of francophones in other Canadian cities such as Ottawa (122,665), Sudbury (45,420), Toronto (34,900), Winnipeg (26,855), Moncton (20,425) and Timmins (17,390), but French speakers in these cities are a minority.)
In January, 2005, the city introduced a controversial bylaw which requires all new businesses to put up signs in both English and French whether business owners want to or not. Although the new by-law infringes on citizens constitutional rights, it was nonetheless passed by council.