Letter to the Editor – Cory Cameron on Cornwall Ontario Community Hospital Bilingual Nursing Policy – February 27, 2012

Bilingual Hiring Policies – Angst that continues

I have been following for several days now the issue of bilingual hiring policies – especially in regards to the recent hot topic of the bilingual hiring policies of the Cornwall Community Hospital(CCH)that has captured so much of the Cornwall public’s attention span as of late.

To say that I have strong feelings towards this issue is an understatement.  I support as many languages spoken and used in both public areas as well as workplaces as is humanly possible.  Is it not worthwhile as well as logical to be able to support as many people as you can by serving in their respective languages?  Yes it is, but somewhere one has to draw the line.  It is an asset, or rather should be, to have the knowledge of speaking/writing several languages other than your mother tongue and to then be able to carry this knowledge into your workplace.  But it shouldn’t be a requirement as per a hiring policy nor should it be considered a stumbling block for career advancement.  Chris Cameron is correct in his assertion that the spoken/written knowledge of a language should not supersede one’s education or experience as a determining factor for consideration for a workplace position.  A consideration no doubt, amongst a wide range of determining factors; but not a deal breaker.

Unfortunately, the health care field is not the only field of employment where this bilingual hiring policy holds true.  To be considered for most provincial and/or federal government careers nowadays, one requires not only a basic knowledge of the French language but an advanced one – the obtaining of which is really only possible through a lifetime of conversing in that respective means.

I myself, have lost out on many job opportunities in the Cornwall area due to not being fluently bilingual.  I can speak and write French but not to the degree of being officially considered ‘bilingual’ and therefore have lost out more times than I care to admit.  To proponents who argue that a bilingual education is the key for grasping/mastering a second language I have this to say:  “I attended a French immersion school up until Grade 7 and continued French courses well through university and still do not meet the criteria of being officially ‘bilingual’.

And what does all of this add up to?  It concludes with many highly educated young people leaving their birthplaces and hometowns to seek out a better life elsewhere due to unfair hiring policies!

I can’t help but feel that learning a second language should be considered an asset and not a requirement for obtaining a decent career.  But many of us feel pressured into having to learn French in order to have a fighting chance at a reasonable career and therefore life.  To me, this seems ludicrous.  There are many instances in world history where one group, nation, ethnicity, creed etc. forces their respective languages/cultures on others and it never ends well.  This letter will anger people, no doubt.  However, last time I checked, we still lived in a democracy and not a totalitarian regime where one was free to still speak the truth.  I fear that this concept is increasingly becoming lost as time goes on.  We must always remember that ethnocentrism and to a larger extent, even imperialism sooner or later rears it’s ugly head and is discovered for what it really is.

Just yesterday I was driving by a French school in Timmins and noticed a stop sign written in French only.  I couldn’t help but feel hurt by that.  And it’s not only this.  How is it that it’s constitutionally acceptable for one ethnic group to fly a flag that represents only one group and to also have it fly beside the official provincial as well as national flag?

With Kindest Regards,

Cory Cameron
Timmins Ontario

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Best Western Cornwall


  1. Timmins is in the Cochrane area of an Ontario designated zone, of which we have 25. To be included in this list you only need 10% of the population or 5,000 in urban centers.

    It is important to serve people, but how are we being served and at what expense?

  2. Well said Cory. Sad to say that even many of the bilingual staff in CCH have moved from Quebec or commute have been told by the Federal Government Assessor that they were not bilingual enough.

    I bet if I went to Quebec I would not be spoken to in English.

    Billions of dollars have been spent on the push french agenda into this province. I’m sure it would have been better spent on health care. As for languages care givers read many languages and they are unilingual. Pain, Blood work, signs and symptoms etc. We care for them all with the utmost respect and care.

  3. Stats Data Cornwall 2005

    As this pertains to the demographics I thought it interesting that only 2% are french only in the 45,000+ of this area.
    For a push on to have 70% of CCH employee’s speaking french, is really overkill.

    I’m sure that the number in 2008 Stats Canada was 5% french only the rest were bilingual or english.
    Again the hiring policy and the agenda of the french being pushed through.

    Family and households in Cornwall characteristics
    Knowledge of official languages
    English only
    Cornwall: 23,100 51.44%
    Citys’ average: 84,680 86.52%
    Province: 10,335,700 85.92%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 11,090 51.80%
    Ontario: 5,130,945 87.29%

    Cornwall: 12,005 51.09%
    Ontario: 5,204,755 84.62%

    French only
    Cornwall: 935 2.08%
    Citys’ average: 299 0.31%
    Ontario: 49,210 0.41%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 335 1.56%
    Ontario: 21,460 0.37%

    Cornwall: 600 2.55%
    Ontario: 27,750 0.45%

    English and French
    Cornwall: 20,720 46.14%
    Citys’ average: 10,388 10.61%
    Ontario: 1,377,330 11.45%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 9,925 46.36%
    Ontario: 621,285 10.57%

    Cornwall: 10,790 45.91%
    Ontario: 756,045 12.29%

    Neither English nor French
    Cornwall: 160 0.36%
    Citys’ average: 2,506 2.56%
    Ontario: 266,655 2.22%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 55 0.26%
    Ontario: 104,185 1.77%

    Cornwall: 105 0.45%
    Ontario: 162,470 2.64%

    Cornwall language details
    Citizenship and immigration
    Canadian citizens
    Cornwall: 43,975 97.92%
    Citys’ average: 89,937 91.89%
    Ontario: 11,131,465 92.54%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 20,985 98.01%
    Ontario: 5,455,880 92.82%

    Cornwall: 22,990 97.83%
    Province: 5,675,585 92.27%

    Not Canadian citizens
    Here: 930 2.07%
    Citys’ average: 7,937 8.11%
    Province: 897,430 7.46%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 420 1.96%
    Ontario: 421,990 7.18%

    Cornwall: 510 2.17%
    Ontario: 475,435 7.73%

    Cornwall: 40,975 91.24%
    Citys’ average: 68,924 70.42%
    Province: 8,512,020 70.76%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 19,595 91.52%
    Ontario: 4,197,560 71.41%

    Cornwall: 21,375 90.94%
    Ontario: 4,314,460 70.14%

    Cornwall: 3,835 8.54%
    Citys’ average: 27,800 28.40%
    Ontario: 3,398,725 28.25%
    Male Female
    Cornwall: 1,770 8.27%
    Province: 1,620,320 27.57%

    Cornwall: 2,070 8.81%
    Province: 1,778,400 28.91%

    Citizenship, immigrant and aboriginal population of Cornwall statistics

    Read more: http://www.city-data.com/canada/Cornwall-City.html#ixzz1nis8wHON

  4. I am sorry to have to do this but your stats are OFF! Here is a link to the actual 2006 Stats-Can numbers and it paints a different picture (The true number of french only/bilingual residents in Cornwall, S.D.& G and Canada is closer to 20% – NOT 2%):

    The numbers show approximately 23% of Cornwallites declared FRENCH ONLY as their mother tongue and approximately 45% of the population declared knowledgef both English and French! Also, approximately 12% spoke french only at home! Your 2% statistics are way off!

    In Canada 57% of the people declared their mother tongue was English Only and 22% of the total people in Canada declared French Only! Also, over 21% declared that the language most often spoken at home is 21%.

    Also if you look at the stats for all of S.D. & G. the french numbers increase! Since the hospital is the largest in S.D. & G. this is more relevant than just Cornwall.


  5. That doesn’t add up Mike. If 23% of Cornwalites declare that they only speak french, then how come only 12% speak French at home? Do 11% of the unilingual Francophones not talk at home?

  6. So the statists show 995 French only speakers and just over 7 thousand who speak French at home. We are spending alot of money to provide services for those few people, but I guess because we have gone past helping them should be the issue. Now we are providing services to fluently bilingual persons who want service depending on their mood.Or an an employee wanting to be managed in what ever language they want.

    We really need to define a level of service ( staffing on a percentage say) before we become a have not province…..;( oh wait!

  7. Following the premise that the Cornwall Community Hospital is the S D & G’s main hospital the following figures are relevant. They show that while mother tongue French for the counties stands at around 22% and English 70% a whopping 98% claim knowledge of both official languages while a mere 2% have only knowledge of French. This seems to make the Advanced French as a prerequisite for even 50% of the hospital staff absolutely skewed in favour of the French. With so many people in SD & G having knowledge of English this whole problem should be a non-issue, so why is it?

    Statistics Canada 2006 Community Profile Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry


    Mother tongue
    Total Population 108,585
    English only 76,480 = 70.43%
    French only 24,065 = 22.16%
    French and English 1,400 = 1.29%
    Other languages 6,630 = 6.11%

    Knowledge of official languages
    Total population 108,585
    English only 62,435 = 57.50%
    French only 2,325 = 2 .14%
    English and French 43,620 = 40.17%

    Language Spoken most often at home
    Total Population 108,585
    English only 90,135 = 83.01%
    French only 14,410 = 13.27%
    English and French 1,260 = 1.16%

  8. Sorry, I meant to write that a whopping 98% claim knowledge of English (according to StatsCan 2006) while a mere 2% only French.

  9. Re: left-or-right, thank you for looking at the stats and noticing that there are more than 2% of people that call declare their mother tongue french. I agree that the French requirements may need to be reviewed but please don’t down play the truth to force a favourable opinion. You are right to say that we are an English majority and need to revisit the policy and need but this debate has gone to far and now too many are indirectly implying that the French is almost “NOT NEEDED” which is why the French community is arguably upset!

    Also, the mention of 2% is a clear example of changing the facts to make a point and the point was “I thought it interesting that only 2% are french only in the 45,000+ of this area.” WHICH IS COMPLETELY WRONG! There is a big difference between 2 out of 100 and 22 out of 100!

    Re: Reg Coffey, please read my post more carefully before replying in such a unprofessional manner. I said and if you would have taken the time to READ or look at the stats: I said approximately 23% declared FRENCH ONLY as their mother tongue and 12% speak FRENCH ONLY at home! Many francophone’s speak english at home because they are married to an Anglophone it is a great part of our culture!

  10. I’m sorry if my attempt at humour eluded you Mike. I think it was Samuel Clemens that said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    ….and I’m not calling anyone a liar. I’m just saying that quoting statistics doesn’t make anything true.

  11. My point is not that there is no need for French in the hospital or anywhere else for that matter, my point is that according to the 2006 Census which this same population filled out that 98% of the people of SD & G claim to have knowledge of English and that only 2% do not understand or have knowledge of English and therefore the hiring practices of the CCH as pertaining to language should be a non-issue, but due to the administration/board’s quest for extra funding it is. There was always more than a sufficient quantity of fully bilingual staff in the hospital to more than meet the needs of SD & G’s language requirements before they sought the French service designation. One should also note that over 83% of the residents of SD & G speak English at home and only around 13% French so it stands to reason that the actual need should be fewer than 20% or two out of ten employees should require an Advanced knowledge of French, which is clearly not the case. No. again this is all about money and a case of fixing something that was not broken.

  12. I think people have taken this the wrong way. French is not the issue here. It is equality.

    This is an unfortunate result of equality. You truly cannot have a diverse society, this shows how it descriminates. That nasty line must be drawn.

    But when all is said and done, if we are in a situation where we need emergency services, does anyone really care about their language, denomination, gender?

    Or do we want them to help us?

    I would be willing to wager that this is nothing more then political and has no true bearing on the welfare of people

  13. RE: LEft to Right, I agree with the number two out of ten, that sounds reasonable which equates to 20% but 2 out of 100 would be too little. I agree with that recommendation 100%!

    Re: “Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

  14. The article is well written and I agree with Mr. Cameron a 100 percent. Being proficient in other languages is certainly an asset and I encourage everyone to try to learn another language. The bilingualism policy of the Cornwall hospital severely limits the pool of qualified applicants to choose from and could compromise patient safety if the hospital cannot find enough qualified bilingual staff. The Ontario government spends significant tax dollars to train nurses, some estimate more than $50 000.00 year per nursing student in addition to tuition. In my opinion, the bilingualism policy of the favours Quebec trained nurses over Ontario trained nurses and will result in Ontario not getting its return on investment. I believe the majority of Ontarians want quality health care and experience, competence, work ethic, skill and compassion should supercede bilingualism especially when people’s lives are on the line.

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