The CIUSSS of West-Central Montreal is calling on a Toronto firm offering a virtual service of interpreters who translate the words of allophone patients only into English, we have learned The duty. Interpreters who work in French in Quebec’s public health network denounce this practice, which takes away work from them.
“We were told that it was because others have cheaper rates, but the interpreters on these platforms do not provide the same quality of service. And it’s just in English! » said Anna, who is keeping her identity secret for fear of losing contracts.
The CIUSSS West-Central Montreal confirms that it is currently deploying the Voyce multilingual interpretation service in its CLSCs, its “intramural” family medicine groups and the Regional Reception Program and integration of asylum seekers, which it manages. A pilot project proved successful, indicates the establishment.
“We chose Voyce because of the quality of the service, the quick accessibility to the service and its low cost,” says CIUSSS spokesperson Carl Thériault, who specifies that his health establishment is in the “one of the most multicultural regions in Canada”, where 82 languages are spoken.
Healthcare establishments that do business with Voyce Canada receive a free tablet that allows them to contact a specially trained healthcare interpreter in just a few seconds. At a cost of one dollar per minute, the service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is offered in more than 240 languages.
In interview at Duty, Andrew Royce, the company’s president and CEO, indicates that the interpretation services offered in Quebec are currently only in English, but that pilot projects for services in French are being carried out with other establishments health are about to see the light of day.
“I am very happy to soon be deploying interpretations into French,” said Mr. Royce, specifying that he lived in Quebec for several years to study at McGill University. He emphasizes that his company stands out for its concern for respecting patient confidentiality.
The use of Voyce is deplored by many interpreters who are part of the Interregional Bank of Interpreters (BII), managed by the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.
Chiara, an interpreter who remains anonymous so as not to harm her career, says that the CLSC de Parc-Extension called her to inform her that her interpreting mandate planned for a few weeks later was being canceled. “A nurse had booked me in, and eventually she told me she wouldn’t need me, that they were going to start using Voyce eventually. »
Anna believes for her part that she is losing contracts to Voyce. “I had a lot of meetings, with the CLSC de Parc-Extension, for example. But now it’s zero, she said. We wonder how we are going to pay the rent. » The situation shocks Anna all the more because English, according to her, should not take precedence over French.
According to the president of the French Quebec Movement, Maxime Laporte, interpretations should always be from a foreign language into French, the only official language in Quebec. “If the interpretation is from a third language into English, I regret, it goes against the elementary principles of the Charter of the French language,” said the lawyer.
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Quebec is not aware
The Department of Health and Social Services says it is not aware that translation is only being done into English through Voyce. It indicates that ministerial guidelines concerning interpretation were sent to health establishments in 2018.
In the document presenting these guidelines, it is indicated that “faced with the impossibility of having an interpreter on site and to avoid any disruption in service, the use of a remote interpreter constitutes an interesting option”. In addition to offering “greater availability”, this avenue allows in particular “to have rapid access to interpreters who master uncommon languages”, it is written.
The CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal specifies that an emergency situation may require immediate interpretation, a service not offered by the BII. Its spokesperson, Jean-Nicolas Aubé, points out that nothing obliges health establishments to use some 325 interpreters from the BII.