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French interpreters must be prioritized in the health network, demands the opposition

Jacques Boissinot Archives The Canadian Press “There is only one official language in Quebec and it is French. Why should healthcare workers speak in another language with an interpreter when using an interpretation service? It's absurd!” launched PQ leader Joël Arseneau on Friday.

Opposition parties have deemed “absurd” and “unserious” the use of a Toronto company offering a virtual interpretation service only into English, thus forcing health professionals to speak the language of Shakespeare when they want to communicate with allophone patients.

Le Devoir reported Friday that the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal had entered into a partnership with Voyce, a virtual interpretation service in Ontario, which provides interpreters who currently only translate into English.

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“There is only one official language in Quebec and it is French. Why should healthcare workers speak in another language with an interpreter when using an interpretation service? It's absurd ! » launched Joël Arseneau, MP for Îles-de-la-Madeleine and spokesperson for the Parti Québécois on health and social services.

According to him, the right to work in French is enshrined in the charter and it would be “odious” to force health professionals to work in English.

In the official opposition, the Liberal MP and spokesperson for the French language, Madwa-Nika Cadet, also believes that translation services at the CIUSSS should always be available in French. However, she adds, “English translations may be offered for clinical reasons or in certain circumstances, as provided by law.”

Quebec Solidaire MP Alexandre Leduc deplores, for his part, the use of interpreters from elsewhere when there are already interpreters here who work in French. “Sending work to Ontario, when you have the expertise here and in French, it’s not serious,” said the MP for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and labor spokesperson. “It is unacceptable to keep the people who help us deliver quality health care on the margins and insecurity. »

Fewer contracts for self-employed workers


Wishing to remain anonymous so as not to lose contracts, self-employed interpreters registered with the Interregional Bank of interpreters (BII), managed by the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, had confided to Devoir that they had stopped being called by certain hospitals and CLSC who preferred Voyce's interpreters.

They also claimed that their working conditions continued to deteriorate and several interpreters even turned their backs on the BII, favoring other clients. A letter of grievances was sent to several actors in the network including the Ministers of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé and Lionel Carmant.

On October 16, the price list for teleworking mandates was modified. Previously, interpreters could bill for a two-hour block, regardless of the actual duration of the interpretation, whether in person or virtually. Now, the BII only allows them to bill one hour for virtual interpretations.

According to the CIUSSS, this change was the subject of a comparative analysis in the health sector and was aimed to remedy non-compliant billing practices, which the BII interpreters contest.

Note that Remote Interpretation Ontario (RIO), a network of non-profit organizations, also offers services interpreting at health establishments in Quebec, particularly in facilities of the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. The Sainte-Justine university hospital center (CHU) says it favors interpreters from the BII or a bank made up of volunteers, but admits to using “as a last resort” the virtual interpretation service of the American company Language Line Solutions.

With Marie-Eve Cousineau

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116