Gong Show Redux as Cornwall Ontario City Council Pass the Buck and Duck on South Stormont Community Hospital Bilingual Nurse Motion

CFN – By far one of the hottest local news stories has been the now linguistic firestorm created by a Letter to the Editor by Dr. Dany Tombler regarding the Bilingual nursing policy at the Cornwall Community Hospital.

The Hospital; that is refusing to contact with The Cornwall Free News and did not advertise its notices with us over this firestorm has a policy that many feel is not fair to nurses and staff that do not pass a written test; again a test that the hospital has refused to post publicly.

Nurses have been contacting us for over a year with complaints of being passed over for promotion.

After Dr. Tombler’s letter Mayor Bryan McGillis and the council of South Stormont responded by passing a motion in South Stormont.

Whereas council has become aware of the Cornwall Community Hospital’s employment policy requirement for seeking registered nurses for full- time, part-time and casual positions to be bilingual (English/French) .

And whereas it appears that members of our local communities have been denied an opportunity to apply for this professional position ( s) due to this particular requirement only, and whereas council is of the opinion that factors such as skill, ability, qualifications, and experience, etc. are also essentials to nursing care.
Now therefore council of the Township of South Stormont urges the Cornwall Community Hospital to review its policy and provide reassurance to the region that this is not the case.
Therefore, until such time that council receives this reassurance, South Stormont withhold’s all donations to the hospital.
And furthermore this motion be circulated to the lower tier municipalities of SD&G, United Counties of SD&G, and the City of Cornwall for their support.
Motion carried  – unanimous –  All council present
South Stormont was following Dr. Tombler’s lead.   Apparently the only way to actually gain the attention of the powers that be was a direct financial threat.
The United Counties rejected the motion; but are attempting to dialog with the community hospital and Monday night it was Cornwall City Council’s turn.
Now I know I’m old fashioned, but I always thought that our elected officials were elected to represent the voters of an area.    To stand up for them; to create and support the community.
South Stormont was trashed by one local media outlet.   They were branded racist, red necked, and worse by many.
Of course language is a red button issue; especially this close to the Quebec border.    City Council in Cornwall was an utter farce last night.
The councilors wore their finest as they knew the cameras would be rolling and the Richelieu Club showed up en masse.
My question would be why?  Nobody, not Dr. Tombler, not South Stormont, not even Maverick Deputy Mayor Tammy Hart who apparently is not the favorite daughter of the French language groups of the area after her protest of the placement of French on a parks sign in her territory.
Not one single protester was suggesting the cancellation of French services.  The issue; which was very clearly communicated was that nurses and staff that didn’t pass this mythical written French test either could not attain certain positions at the hospital or gain advancement.
Sure Dr. Tombler may have a nurse friend in that situation, and sure Mayor McGillis may simply want his daughter to not move away from home after graduating from a local nursing school; but those are issues that countless other area families are facing as well.
If we are going to require our children to be fully bilingual at an expert level then let’s make sure they graduate high school with those skills.  Let’s demand that of our educators.  Youth retention is one of the biggest issues facing our region.  Do we really want our young people leaving if they are not bilingual?  Is it really about having French language service at the hospital which is never in question?
I spoke with one soldier last week who talked about Federal language tests and how some French speakers had problems passing the written tests.
I’m a refugee from Quebec.  I grew up with language issues.  I understand and have empathy for the injustices of the past; but do we really have or need this drama instead of focusing on the core issue of what really is going on at the Cornwall Community Hospital and jobs at the EOHU, and other Federal and Provincial agencies?
Cornwall City Council passed the buck; something they are getting far too good at.   Instead of just passing the buck though each and every councilor and the mayor stood up for a little speech and gesture.   It was pathetically bad theatre as you can see in the video below including the future Ms Mayor Bernadette Clement to be the final speaker.   Some suggested that protesters take this to MPP Jim McDonnell who appears to be in the Witness Protection Program.
Only councilor Glen Grant showed some testicular fortitude, but he too allowed council to pass the buck.
Mayor Kilger and Council let the residents of this community down by hiding and refusing to focus on this issue for the hospital that serves our city.    While the ultimate jurisdiction of  what’s going on at the hospital may not fall under the city’s mandate there is nothing that stops the city and council from voicing their concern and supporting the citizens of this community.  Nothing.
Do we really elect people to pass the buck?  And at what time is there nobody left to pass the buck to?
You can post your comments below.
Cornwall Free News


  1. The Ontario High School Diploma consists of 30 credits and you need pass one French class.
    To get the French designation on the diploma, you need 10 French classes of different subjects.
    Students also have to choose a career path and take subjects toward that, which I feel, pumps out fewer well rounded people.

    A compromise for City Council would be easy. The money stays on the table but we want to see that the process is fair and actually needed. That would put the ball back into the Hospital hands to accept the money or not.

  2. Special Mention….. If the protestors of the Hospital want to exact change they need numbers! They were out numbered atleast 5 to 1 by supporters of the francophone community!

    I truly think that this group has a valid position and some change could be good for everyone! However, as I stated in an earlier post this group needs a better “Speaker” and “Numbers”! If it remains the same 2-4 people then this is pointless!

  3. Anglos operate on a different level. Unlike francophones, they dislike mob demonstrations. On the other hand, they know political correctness still prevails (confirmed by the Cornwall city council vote) and, although supportive, they would rather watch the developments from a sideline. But don’t make mistake. It’s not the masses that make profound changes. It’s the people in power. That’s how bilingualism was brought to life and that’s how it would be put to rest.

  4. Mike, languagefairnes.net has put out a call to advise of the rally, I would imagine they will have a speaker. I will be there, but not with a rose in my lapel. LOL

    People are concerned with the litigation costs the City has / is racking up. That same amount, 1.4 million is slated for the hospital this year from the City and they (you) have given over 8 million in recent years. Listed elsewhere is the 1.4 million is about 35 dollars per resident, maybe that hits home with seniors and others on fixed incomes.

    35 dollars not sound like much, however when you get paid, taxes are already taken off. You buy things like gas, soap or a shirt and taxes are paid. You pay property tax to the City expecting services, and they give some more of your money to the hospital, on top of the provincial health tax you pay.

    It is not too much to ask for an open and fair hiring process in exchange for your money!

  5. Re: Silent Anglo……..Well said I completely agree and what you have said is exactly what City Council stated! Several councillors stated that Cornwall City Council is not the platform for this topic and it isn’t nor should it be in South Stormont. The fight starts at the hospital but ends with parliament!

    Re: Eric I hope your comment wasn’t directed at the pins the Francophone community were to show that they are proud to support the French language! I proudly were mine in honour of my father and grandfather being Francophone. Also, would you mock the poppy, pink shirts and yellow ribbons too! It’s a good thing for people to be proud of who they are and I think the people of the Francophone commnity were in attendance in large numbers to simpply show there concern and support…..such as the protestors have!

    I too would like to know the final amount that all of these law suits will cost the city….but even more so I would like to get more information and know exactly what all of this entails! I have heard many rumours of relationships between managers etc. but they are rumours and I personally can’t and won’t vouche for any of the rumours until someone specifically acknowledges whether they are truthful or not.

    The rumour that is spreading like wildfire amongst the community is and that scares me the most was that I was told, and many have repeated, that Mr. Fitzpatrick has had a relationship with Mrs. Donna Derouchie and she is being paid to keep her relationship from the public. How she is being paid is the only thing nobody knows! Now, take this with a grain of salt because it could just be a rumour but it is one that has brought to my attention in 4 completely different groups of people who don’t even know each other. I would think the city should address this rumour if it is false to protect its employees image …….or ignore it if it is true and hope it goes away!

  6. My comment was of the rose PE Trudeau would wear, our founder of the Official Languages Act. As I have stated before, we have all grown up with, are, or have family of French heritage. No disrespect from me because of heritage, but more English people need to think about continuing that heritage.

    The level of government closest to the people is a very good starting point on any issue, and just like any special interest group would do, one small step at a time.
    Thank you South Stormont.

  7. The French Language Services Act is part of a group of legal provisions guaranteeing the language rights of francophones.

    Is there such a thing for any other language? English maybe?

  8. Im a franco american who has been in cornwall for 23 years and i have never seen such a hatred toward the french you also hate americans . for a provence that depends so much on both places i can’t understand the logic.If your threatened by us why don’t you strive alittle harder so you will be up to par !

  9. silent franco american
    Most Francophones, English, Asian, Black are nice people with views that are not always in harmony with another group or indivdual. The hatred is more an anger against a very few who push the boundaries. Russell Township wanting to force all private business to have only bilingual signs, the cost assocaited with setting up entire departments for only one minority language or even refusing a person to apply for some jobs if not bilingual. Ontario taxpayers have and do spend much to support the French heritage and language, but there is no shut off valve to the requests for more.

    This frustration and what we have seen from Quebec over the years is showing with the recent articles on the hospital practices.

  10. If hate is your logical argument, franco, then Cornwall hospital board hates anglo nurses and the United Counties councillors are OK with that. Otherwise, why would they insist on precluding unilingual anglo nurses from being employed in the area where almost everyone speaks English, except from newborn babies and toddlers?

  11. I am new to the area from QC and am surprised at such a discussion.. I would think that employees of a hospital especially nurses and other staff would have to be bilingual.. English can be their first language but they need to speak fluent French.. After all we are one of the cities close to the border and I hear French spoken often wherever I go.. Don’t turn it into another QC thing… If I am a francophone and am hospitalized I would expect to get served in French..French is all around us Alexandria, Lancaster etc… and also the French population of Cornwall… Even at Ottawa Hospital they are bilingual… Why not Cornwall? Why?

  12. Lulu, doctors/nurses should be hired for skills before language. Enough said on that. It’s not the people posting here turning this into a Quebec thing. This very issue is turning things into a Quebec thing. Granted bilingualism should be an important factor especially considering having to communicate info properly in the hospitals. But with the mad Doctor/Nurse shortage that is going on, the bilingualism basis should not be the first factor considered when hiring.

    On another note, I have recently heard a story about how a local dentist may be discriminating against their clients by demanding that at least one person in the “client’s family” be French speaking or they will not be provided with service. That is wrong as well. Forcing the population to have to speak French to get service? Same with that French health centre here in town. I have tremendous issues with that. Just as an example, if I were to get hit by a car and I didn’t speak French, would I be left to suffer? Where’s the logic in that?

  13. I am new to this area too and cannot comprehend why Cornwall hospital is erecting employment barriers to local people even though they speak French good enough to be understood. All hospital medical records and administration files are done in English, so why nurses (and other personnel) have to pass a high level written test in French?? It does not make sense.

  14. Why is everybody in south stormont are so upset about bilingualism. I was raised in a french family and went to a french elementary school where we started to learn english in grade 2. We had lots of anglophones friends which was nice. When we started high school we had no choice we had to go to an english school because it was the only high school in our township. But it was a good thing for us. It was harder but the english language became easier and this is how we became bilingual. French students had to take english not anglais every year, and english students only had to take french not français only in grade 9 and 10. So don’t be jealous of the french people because we are bilingual, this is what

  15. Why is everybody in south stormont are so upset about bilingualism. I was raised in a french family and went to a french elementary school where we started to learn english in grade 2. We had lots of anglophones friends which was nice. When we started high school we had no choice we had to go to an english school because it was the only high school in our township. But it was a good thing for us. It was harder but the english language became easier and this is how we became bilingual. French students had to take english not anglais every year, and english students only had to take french not français only in grade 9 and 10. So don’t be jealous of the french people because we are bilingual, this is what we worked hard on and we are happy we did. Everybody has the chance to learn french and english so take the opportunity, than you will have more door opening for you. Lots of immigrants do not understand why english peuple don’t take the opportunity, and than they are angry and jealous of them and us. Go for it …learn french. We love you guys.

  16. @Jolimi: Francos learn English easily in Ontario and Anglos learn French easily in Quebec.

  17. everyone has the same opportunity… Take it.

  18. I’m glas that not all anglophones think the same way. My husband was raised in a anglophone only family, but their father was determined to send his children to learn french so they coule get a better chance in life. So they went to a french elementary school. This is how i met my husband, now if there was more anglophones who would think this way there would not be any angry people on this matter. Bilingual is for everyone … Do the same.

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