Letter to the Editor – Earle Macpherson of Cornwall Ontario on Cornwall Community Hospital Bilingual Positions – Feb 11, 2012

 Helen Periard has stated in Fridays local paper that only front-line positions that have direct contact with patients need to have bilingualism.

Agencies that are partially funded by the province (hospitals, daycare centers, group homes, etc.) are not automatically subject to the FLSA. These agencies may ask to be officially designated, in which case Cabinet will pass a regulation to designate them as official providers of services in French.

Question-Was this policy forced on our hospital or was this requested by the hospital board?

Here’s a list of these positions 35 in all. I am surprised that the custodian is not on it. Outside of this list what’s left?

92.1 Cornwall Community Hospital – Hôpital Communautaire de Cornwall in respect of the following programs carried out by the Hospital on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care:

i. Administration/Corporate Services.

ii. Admission Prevention Services.

iii. Adult Counselling and Treatment.

iv. Ambulatory Care Clinics.

v. Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACT Team).

vi. Business Office.

vii. Computer Assisted Tomography.

viii. Critical Care Unit.

ix. Diabetic Clinic.

x. Diagnostic Services Administrative Support.

xi. Dietary.

xii. Discharge Planning.

xiii. Emergency.

xiv. Health Information Services.

xv. Human Resources.

xvi. Inpatient Mental Health Unit.

xvii. Inpatient Social Work.

xviii. Inpatient Surgery.

xix. Mammography.

xx. Mental Health Crisis Team.

xxi. Nuclear Medicine.

xxii. Obstetrics.

xxiii. Occupational Therapy.

xxiv. Operating Room.

xxv. Outpatient Mental Health.

xxvi. Paediatrics.

xxvii. Patient Registration.

xxviii. Pharmacy.

xxix. Physiotherapy.

xxx. Pre-admission.

xxxi. Speech Language Pathology.

xxxii. Spiritual Care.

xxxiii. Switchboard.

xxxiv. Ultrasound.

xxxv. X-Ray.

Here’s a list of these positions. I am surprised that the custodian is not on it. Outside of this list what’s left?

Earle Macpherson
Cornwall Ontario

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Best Western Cornwall


  1. It is a shame and very frustrating to see the same sickness that plagues Quebec, coming to Ontario. Quebec places priority on language over qualifications. Thus many top level, well educated people left Quebec, and we read about the fallout in the Quebec healthcare system almost daily. The Irony of all this is that it is a proven fact that Ontario border hospitals are visited by many Quebecers because of much lower wait times and speedier times in seeing professionals. Thus impacting Ontario hospitals for Ontario residents who do not condone the Language over Qualification act.
    Now the sickness has reached us, and we have to ask ourselves….WHY?
    I believe Ontario has already allowed the sickness to mutate into allowing designated French Only clinics which is absolutely asinine. Allowing segregation into Healthcare…what a concept.!

  2. Very interesting post, which answers a lot of questions, and asks a whole lot of questions too.

    Although I am English, I am also quite comfortable speaking French, and have no hang-ups about using the language. Having said that, if I were seriously ill, or had taken too many painkillers to function 100% mentally, I would certainly need to communicate with the medical staff in English. At least that way I could be sure that what I was telling them was accurate, and that I was understanding their questions or suggestions properly.

    Anyone who is more comfortable speaking French deserves and has a right to exactly the same treatment. Period, no ifs, ands or buts.

    What that means is that at least some people from every department which interacts directly with patients needs to be bilingual. Not necessarily all the staff, but there should be at least a few on shift at any time.

    But why do the following need to be bilingual?

    Administration/Corporate Services. Who needs to deal with them in an emergency situation?

    Admission Prevention Services. If they don’t want to admit a patient, surely one of the bilingual doctors or nurses could give them a prescription and tell them to go home.

    Business Office. One definitely has to be bilingual to mail a computer generated bill or invoice, which in any case would be in English and French.

    Diagnostic Services Administrative Support. Administrators – no direct patient contact.

    Discharge Planning. You don’t have to be bilingual to discharge a patient. Any information for the patient can be communicated by one of bilingual nurses.

    Human Resources. Why does this department have to be bilingual? Would the hospital even dream of hiring non-English speakers, even as janitors or laundry room workers?

    Operating Room. So emergency surgery has to be postponed while they make sure at least one of the OR team speaks French, even though everyone would be communicating in English anyway? Are the anaesthetists so incompetent that a French speaking patient might wake up halfway through his operation and start complaining that it hurts?

    Pre-admission. What is pre-admission? What do they do that admission cannot do? Maybe tell the patient and his family what to expect once admitted. Most of this can be done with a bilingual pre-admission booklet, which could actually be done in several languages, as not all in Cornwall boast English or French as their native tongue.

    There should be a pay bonus for any of the medical care staff who are bilingual. However, the hospital could save money by eliminating any bilingual bonuses for employees in the above departments who speak French, as French in those departments is totally unnecessary.

    I’d love to see how the hospital administration would react to this comment, but I won’t hold my breath waiting, in case they have to call in a French speaking staff member to revive me!

  3. I think we are looking a little too far into the situation. We are talking about changing the rules to promote unilingual candidates over bilingual candidates. Essentialy, thats what would happen.

    I think there is perception that bilingual candidates are francophones or Quebecers stealing our jobs! But this is not the case the majority of the staff speak english more then they do french but are capable of speaking and writing in both languages!

    By the way, does anyone really believe that someone can be truely bilingual and hold a french conversation but be able to write in french? I would truel like to here people opinion of whether they think this is true and then I would gladly like to see if we can test this theory somehow!

  4. Sorry, but “NOT” be able to read and write in French!

    Also, most people being hired are local people who have never lived in Quebec! They are graduates of La Citadelle and L’Heritage fwho have completed the Nursing program at St. Lawrence College! All local kids who strengthen our community by remaining here and ensuring our culture is rich with different languages, etc.

  5. Mike, what about those graduating from CCVS and St. Lawrence. Are they not good enough to get a job in Cornwall.

  6. Author

    If we are going to require mandatory bilingualism to qualify for good positions and advancement then perhaps that should be mandatory in our education system?

    This isn’t about language; this is about community survival. I grew up in a province that saw both English and French children leave because of the barbarity of language politics.

    I think citizens in Cornwall; Ontario; Quebec, and Canada need to make those decisions and live with them.

  7. I graduated from St. Lawrence High School and I am bilingual! Bilingualism isn’t about which school you come from as much as the family you were raised in and their history.

    I truly believe that a large, if not majority, of the families in Cornwall have migrated from Quebec to here or from East to West, more so then from West to East, and that most of the language has been diluted due to the mix of English and French parents!

    I am all for equality and I trust what Helen Periard says over the guess work of most others! Even Mr. McGillis himself has admitted to having a better understanding of how the hospitals hiring practice works after voting!…..After voting………why didn’t a single councillor, deputy mayor or mayor ask for more information? Why? And to be honest from the sounds of it I think Mr. McGillis has an axe to grind due to his daughters situation! I am sure the chatter from Mrs. Hart doesn’t hurt either!

    The counties council didn’t support the college when it requested donation to help upgrade and Cornwall did and now the counties want to stop donating to the hospital!

    Mr. Kilger made an excellent point when the lone person who was against supporting the college in Cornwall, Mr. Andre Rivette, asked what business are we in?

    Mr. Kilger responded by saying we are in the business of building a community and I truely think that South Stormonts Council is not supporting our community at this point in time!

  8. my wife has worked at that place for 10 years 40 hour a week and can,t have a full time job if you work at a place for 10 years 40 hours a week french or not you should be given full time and there are so many like her you can,t count them and they are pass over by less qualified if you need too be there you should hope you get my wife she is every good at her job or maybe you would like some 21 year old who can speek french but rely not sure of what there about to do.

  9. I believe that the hospital board fought for up to five years to acquire the bilingual status and with it the increased funds that go with the bilingual designation. For the last while the staff of the hospital has been warned (threatened with job action) not to relate what happens within the hospital to anyone outside of the workplace due to Privacy Laws, especially media. They have been basically restricted to communicating with patients only when work related. For example, if a staff member sees their next door neighbour in passing in the hospital they can say hello but not how are you, or why are you here and so on. Technically staff are not supposed to even ask each other how they are let alone a sick hospitalized family member…..go figure.

    Having said that, I am aware of a front line health care worker (not nursing) with 10 years experience in their field as a part time worker who applied for a posted full time position. That position was given to another less qualified part time worker with 2 years experience of which 1 year was a legitimate leave of absence. The disqualified worker who is functionally fully bilingual and is actually limited in what they are allowed to even say to the patient they are dealing with was turned down because they had only garnered an intermediate and not advanced classification on a previously taken French test. Turned down for a job they have already been doing exceptionally well in both languages for 10 years for the sake of quota and funding, but not qualifications or experience. The worker was never interviewed for the new posting nor were they even offered a retake of the exam to qualify for the job.

    What appears to be happening is that it does not suffice for Anglophones to speak French to be considered bilingual, only Francophones who learn English, however broken and heavily accented, truly benefit from that status. As for the South Stormont Township Council, as a township resident and voter I fully support your position and am glad to see our mayor making a stand and asking the hard questions of the hospital board and willing to take on the province if he does not like the answers he gets from them. There are more to these articles than meet the eyes.

  10. Someone in Cornwall found the new source of funding that the Ottawa Hospital located years ago.

    Quebec patients use the hospital, Quebec sends payments to the hospital ( these payments are less than what Ontario gives by the way), these payments do not count against the annual stipend received from the Ontario government.

    Voila, new revenue source is observed, so why not attract more people from Quebec and expand your “business”…….Well, Ontario residents are paying a health tax on top of regular tax going to health care for services and construction, and waiting times are higher because of more patients, and locals are getting shut out jobs.

  11. Mike says: “It is a shame and very frustrating to see the same sickness that plagues Quebec, coming to Ontario. Quebec places priority on language over qualifications. I believe Ontario has already allowed the sickness to mutate into allowing designated French Only clinics which is absolutely asinine. Allowing segregation into Healthcare…what a concept!” We do have a French-only clinic here in Cornwall and the question we must all ask of ourselves is “Do we want a French-only hospital too?” That Quebec-cancer must not be allowed to flourish here in Cornwall. BRAVO South Stormont!

  12. Re: Wyatt Walsh

    If your statement is true than that is horrible! I really don’t beleive any part-time employee working 40 hours a week and being passed over for a “new hire” that is experienced is fair at all! If your wife is anythign like her son, who worked for me this past summer, then I am disgusted to hear that this is the case!

    Re: Cornwall Harry

    To answer your question “NO!” we should not have a French only anything or an English only anything! We should have ONE, effecient, bilingual, friendly patient care facility!

  13. The french vs English battle was created in teh minds of teh politicians in teh 1960’s. English…. not French is teh International language of safety. Why is that… because almost everyone on teh globe speaks it. Now why is it we should have bilingual hospitals. Let me tell you good and gentle readers. Its because of political correctness. These same Quebecker that come from Quebec to Ontario because teh wait times are better… well perhaps they should understand that English is the language of teh province. As for being politically correct, this is intellectual aids. One group despising what you say and then wanting to punish you for having teh right to say it.
    Frankly I want to make sure the best qualified person looks after me, and I dont need them to be able to say Bonjour to take care of me. No need for any of these positions to be bilingual Thats is just a monster cost increase.

  14. Kudos to Earle MacPherson for listing all the positions that require French when they really don’t. Maybe now more people will understand that the hospital administration is following an agenda which is more about promoting French than about service to French-speakers who want French-language services. I wonder how many people are aware that the FLSA (passed in 1986) was passed by a Liberal govt. under David Peterson without a recorded vote and without even a quorum? All MPPs were told not to come to the House if they could not support this Act and it is to the great shame of our English-speaking MPPs that they would allow “political correctness” to create so much havoc. The hospital administration went over-board in interpreting the bilingual designation to mean that ALL nurses should be perfectly bilingual, able to pass a written and spoken test of a high enough level that even French-speakers are not able to pass it. As has been suggested by many people, all you need is some of the nurses to be bilingual, certainly not all. I would like to see how much “weight” is given to Qualification, Experience and Language so that the last item does not become the defining factor in the hiring. That is not such a difficult policy to employ – why is the hospital administration baulking at it? MERIT must always trump fluency in a minority language!!!

  15. The simple facts are as more francophone’s get hired for all government positions less and less English speakers are working for their own governments across the country. Don’t believe me; Go check the stats for yourself. Francophone’s are over-represented in all levels of government including hospitals, law, policing…etc. No fairness, no representation by population. They call it bilingualism, yet the term is never defined on purpose and believe me it doesn’t mean fluency in 2 languages in Canada, at least to the French it doesn’t. No political party will speak for the English speaking majority in this province and country. Practical bilingualism, where numbers warrant… is never defined on purpose. In Ontario, NB it now means segregation. The French (they are actually metis, a mixed race, not french) are demanding French only facilities all over the province, not bilingual, French only. $ Bilingualism is really nothing more then a hiring quota for francophone’s and that is a fact…just ask yourself, why are francophone’s over-represented in all government jobs and how come more and more positions are being designated bilingual all the time? And just as important, how come they are NOT fluently bilingual? Some can barely speak English!

    See whats really going on here?

    So while Quebec bans the English language (bill 22, bill 178, bill 101…), wipes out its real BNA, UEL history, while ethnic language cleansing is going on in Quebec, the rest of the country is forced to fund whatever the French (metis) demand. This is going on in every province. Go check.

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