Letter to the Editor – Debbie Cameron RN on the Bilingual Nursing Protest at Cornwall Ontario Community Hospital

I graduated in 1994 with  my Registered Nurse Diploma with Honors from St.Lawrence College in Corwall,ON.   During  my 3 years of schooling I trained in various hospitals including the former General(public & english) & Hotel Dieu(Catholic & english)Hospitals.


Soon after my graduation my husband(an RN too) & I relocated to the USA because nursing jobs were hard to come by after the “Rae Days”.  After living in the USA for over 5 years we moved back to the  Ottawa area,and both of us gained FT employment in Ottawa.  Then,along came baby & back to our home town of Cornwall we moved-needed babysitters…


Anyhow,my husband decided to stay working in Ottawa(job security) & I would get a job in Cornwall.Well,8 years  & 3 specialties (critical care,operating & recovery room and hemo-dialysis)later,still no FT job.  I have truely lost my passion for nursing since returning to my roots.I have even dropped out of University because what’s the point of continuing my studies.  


I was enrolled in Health Care Administration,but guess what?All the managerial postings at Cornwall Community Hospital have advanced french as a required qualification.   The solution is simple really,since the hospital has the authority to decrease the french requirement to an assest.


I’ve been an RN for 18 years & I don’t think it’s fair or equitable that because of language the only option for FT employment is an opening in my current department.  I guess all the other experience & education I possess count for nothing. Most days now I wish we never came back to Canada because my country really isn’t a democracy.


What kind of opportunities will my kids have when they are enrolled in french immersion program & chances are they will not understand french enough to pass this exam designed for franchophones.   Our community,our patients,our families derserve better.Representation by population=fairness & equality for all .


 Debbie Cameron RN 


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James Moak


  1. I am NOT reading bigot, redneck or hateful comments in this letter, just someone who cares. Thank you for having the passion this subject requires since ideology has replaced common sense.

  2. State mandated language rights overrule voluntarily collaborative free enterprising market solutions. The francophone community is forcing their language upon the anglophone community by taking advantage of state legislative coercive powers. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

  3. Next time there is an election, the silent majority will just have to vote in the candidate that most represents the majority. Now we will be going in eyes wide open. Thanks for your letter Debbie….Fairness and equality for all!

  4. Tell us more about this “silent majority”.

  5. These are ongoing growing pains that come with living in a country with two official languages. One mistake we should not make is to equate fairness with equality. In my opinion, fairness has to be distinguished from equality. I don’t think its fair to cut off the french minority just because its unfair for some who cannot meet bilingual requirements. In such a case, equality is weakened because it excludes the minority. Likewise, I believe this is not a right for the majority as a whole, its a fundamental right for Canada; a Country which honors its history and culture of about 8,400,000 french people. Sadly, I wish I could say the same about our Aboriginal peoples in Canada. If we can’t accept such a fundamental right as a democratic society, I’m afraid the future of multiculturalism will be harder to come by and make sense of.

  6. ILeading up to our 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and nearing the anniversary of Vimy, are we honouring all of our history and culture or just French people as you point out? Anyway, not sure where that 8.4 million number came from! Canada lists 6,608,000 French and 6,027,000 of them are in Quebec.

    I agree there will be growing pains when a federal government removes the right of the people to decide important issues and proclaim something like the Official Languages Act. And after only 40 years and in excess of 2.4 billion dollars a year, it needs to be reviewed.
    The Ontario government removed the right of muncipalities last year to limit discusions on local industrial wind turbines, a lack of democracy is closer than we think.
    Simon, you must be trying to stir the pot.

  7. Stirring the pot?…Not at all. But the substance of the argument has become one of unsubstantiated rhetoric and hyperbole, which is not substance at all.

    1. Hospitals are expected to provide care to the community.

    2. Hospitals are obliged to be staffed in a manner that provides care to the community.

    3. Hospitals are not obliged to create employment in a community.

    4. The weight placed on the language of communication in providing care to the community is an issue.

    5. The weight placed on the language of communication in evaluation and selection of staff is an issue.

    There is a need to serve more than just English speakers in our community and current law is proving itself a clumsy tool to do so… but so too, is bigotted and prejudiced argument.

  8. There are less than 1,000 French only speakers in Cornwall, are there not enough services now?
    We all are, grew up with or have family members with French heritage and I don’t remember any language issues growing up (born in Cornwall at the General). Once the government gets involved that all changes.
    Ontario is pushing (forcing) French with money where they do not need to be but calling it bilingual.
    Russell Township is forcing private companies to post bilingual signs, even though over 70% of them already were.
    Dieppe NB legislated you can have French only or bilingual signs (French first) but not English only. This sort of stuff scares people, they worry it will happen here, that fewer jobs will be available for their kids. All this expense and trouble for less than 5% of Ontario’s population.

    Where numbers warrant means nothing anymore. It is not my thought, but why not have English immersion schools for the few French that need it, instead of the French immersion for hundreds of thousands of English only speakers?

  9. There is alot that is being said here ^^^

    We, Francophones were forced to amalgamate in Cornwall from French to English. i.e. I recall how historically French high school students were treated as being forced to go to high school from 6am to 12noon, and no money for a football team, but the 12noon to 6pm “English school in the same school had money for a football team. How fair was that to wake up for my former peers of ESLC were force to choose the English school if they were to reap the benefits of the high school life. There was favoritism to the Anglophones. Now, who would send their kids to school for 6am? That means up at 4am or 5am…Not sure on the busing system then either…

    I recall being humiliated in class at SLC foced in a presentation at the request of a teacher for me to translate the presentation that was all in English to French without any preparation. That was uncalled for by the teacher at SLC and the “French Nursing Group” were treated as second class citizens for some reason. Anyways, many students in the class praised me in being quick and thinking on my feet. This was not a positive experience and created hate and resentment & I am certain that this was reciprocated from the English class.

    I was then employed but I too affected by Bob Rae as I became a single Mom with no child support or family support from his side. I had to take him to court 3x’s over 10yrs for his child support of 35$ for two boys per month. Bob Rae, didn’t care now did he? He was English, my former husband was English.

    I too lost my passion for nursing and need to work and so, don’t know what else to do unless I win the lottery.

    I don’t agree that bilingualism should be a major requirement for full time employment. I believe if you have the qualifications and seniority then you should get the job. I want to know what is you ONA rep doing about all of this? This does not create unity but causes further dissensions, hate, amongst us as nurses. Also, I think management has easily divided and conquered to micro manage each and every unit in the hospital.

    Here in Toronto, English/French nurses mean nothing as it is Philipino, Chinese, Jamaican…I say count your blessings as this for some may cause culture shock. The Black nurses speak amongst themselves, and only help each other and pull their “black card up” at every turn & management will not deal with this and prefer to bury and give black nurses favor. Chinese nurses are easy enough to work with, the Philipino’s in my experience are horrible to work with as at report they would afterwards have their own report and know that it had nothing to do with patients as with ‘self-scheduling’ they would opt to work together. White bilingual French/English nurses are treated like crap and due to being a minority where the other are a majority but management will not attest to that. Now, know that many of these immigrant nurses were brought in by gvt. and their work visa, and Country entry here facilitated and paid for by gvt. including ESL (English as a second language) because no one can, or could understand their speech or their writing.

    Also, re: signage in the Scarborough Grace Hospital is English and Asian (mandarin, Chinese,…)No French although English and French are the two official languages in this country. Also, note that hospitals in the GTA other than the one mentioned has no French or “bilingual” signs.

    If we are going to talk about the “bilingual issue” in Cornwall, then lets address the whole thing in the whole Province of Ontario as there’s plenty of Francophones in this area as well and no special favors is given to white bilingual nurses.

    Over here White, English and French nurses are a minority.

    The thing is what is the plan and or the solution to all of this? Anyone know? Because I don’t care what anyone says patients are at the brunt of all of this.

  10. Author

    Merci pour votre poste Lise. I think it’s brilliant. I hope everyone reads this. Bottom line is patient care and happy nurses always do a better job. Better nurses that are happy should be the only thing Madame Periard and Despatie should be targeting for.


  11. Bilingualism is NOT a fundamental right. If it were, Canada’s Founding Fathers would have enshrined it in the BNA in 1867 when Canada was formed. However, Section 133 limited bilingualism only to the federal Parliament and the Quebec provincial legislature, allowed for records to be kept in both languages, and allowed bilingualism in federal and Quebec courts. That’s it. Everything else is hanky-panky.

  12. http://www.ofa.gov.on.ca/en/flsa-mapdesig.html This should clear up this language issue and French is mandatory in in designated areas… Lise your post was excellent… the first part in particular I did enjoy reading it and it was true.
    Jamie you are reading what you want to read! Check out the map of designated areas and I think you will find our are is in it!

  13. I also forgot to mention the incident @Hotel Dieu Hospital when I was a student where I had to go and get an I.V. solution. The “French Group ” of students were holding the fort while the English nurses on the floor had a meeting in the supply room where they had the I.V. solution that I needed. I went in not knowing they were in there and I noted that it was an obviously a ‘bitching session’. I asked sheepishly b/c I obviously interrupted something for the I.V. solution and one nurse sitting turned around picked up the bag and threw it at me. She didn’t get up to hand it to me. She actually threw it at me. I caught it but was very upset at this and told my teacher but she did nothing. As it turned out it was the wrong solution as well. The I.V. went dry until they got out and so, evidence based practice for that duration that patient did not get for an hour I.V. infusion and the nurse that was assigned to the pt. made an issue about it knowing that bullying and intimidation from the nurse throwing the wrong I.V. solution at me that was done but not dealt with on a professional basis b/c we were the French group.

    There is much bullying and intimidation practices in the health care profession as to my observations and I think this has to stop. Our workload has not gotten any easier either.

  14. Lulu, that map and associated sections show a concerted effort, at our expense, to increase both a percieved need and Francophone numbers. Money is being thrown at this! And I ask again, how does Canadian Francophone heritage get helped by including a Vietnamise person, who moved to Brussels and learned some French there? He or she is now included with the “new” definition of Francohone in Ontario.
    The government needs to get out of this!

    The high school construction listed above was hardly convienent for either side. The English had football already, not given something. Did the French group have enough people to form a team?
    You will see a bully in teaching just as well as in the school yard or buiness. I have had teachers who make kids with very poor reading aloud skill, read for long periods of time, that is humilating for the kid and agony for the others.
    Multiculturism is not the wonderful utopia is was sold as, again, government needs to get out!

  15. I still wonder why the requirements do not include all languages in the area?

    This French stuff is simply nonsence. Can anyone provide evidence from the act where it clearly states anything more then we have both languages?

  16. @ Hailey do searches that is about it.. why would they include all languages when there are only two official languages in Canada.. .as in the US there is only one and probably Spanish will be the second so it appears.

  17. Lulu
    The search has been done

    Is this a language issue or a healthcare issue, or descrimination against everyone except those speaking french?

    two official languages is that not in itself descrimination, why not make it heterosexual only as well?

  18. Wake up people; you have no idea what these racist, bigoted francophonys are up to. They have been bragging about it for decades.

    “My roll as Secretary of State of Canada is first and foremost to ensure that my French compatriots in Canada feel with deep conviction, as I do, that this is their country and that it reflects their image”. “I too had some difficult years as a politician; I’m still having them, in fact, because everything we undertake and everything we are doing to make Canada a French state is part of a venture I have shared for many years with a number of people”. “You know the idea, the challenge, the ambition of making Canada a French country both inside and outside Quebec — an idea some people consider a bit crazy, is something a little beyond the ordinary imagination”. – Serge Joyal, Secretary of State – Page 2 ‘ENOUGH’ by J.V. Andrew. – Serge Joyal – Now in the Senate.

    This is THE biggest scam, the biggest fraud and lie ever forced upon the Canadian public. People have no idea what this man Trudeau did to this country.

    “Quebec can make French the only official language in spite of the Constitution”. Pierre Trudeau, .

    “There is no way two ethnic groups in one country can be made equal before the law….and to say it is possible is to sow the seeds of destruction”. Pierre Trudeau,

    .” ….Given these facts, should French-speaking people concentrate their efforts on Quebec or take the whole of Canada as their base? In my opinion, they should do both; and for the purpose they could find no better instrument than federalism”, Pierre Trudeau,.

    “I cannot swear it but I think we were thinking to ourselves,… we are a small group, Trudeau, Pelletier, Marchand, Lalonde, Chrétien, myself and a few people in the civil service, say 50 all told…we were bringing off a revolution. We held the key posts. We were making the civil service bilingual (French), kicking and screaming all the time”. Jean-Luc Pepin, Minister of Industry, 1970.

    50 years of spin, lies…thats what we have got. They are changing the names of towns, streets, counties, bodies of water, riding names…and I’m not taking about kebec any longer. It’s now going on all over the country; it’s a mess in Ottawa where they name things after anti-English language bigots and racists all the time. They are slowly wiping out our English, Scottish, Irish, United empire loyalists history. Just like they’ve been doing in Quebec for the last 5 decades (bills 22, 178, 101…)…This is one of the main reasons we are not teaching any history from 1760 to 1982 in our schools any longer. These racist people control government, the curriculum, our money…we get a daily dose of spin, lies and propaganda.

    Remember one thing folks – The liberals brought in a lot of this expensive nonsense, bilingualism (forced french, only outside Quebec), multiculturalism, the charter, rights this, rights that…but the Conservatives have done nothing to repeal any of this crap federally or provincially. ???

    The Conservatives have allowed all of these expensive, divisive liberal polices, and departments to remain??? How come?

    What would you eliminate Conservatives, well tell us! What fees will you reduce and eliminate, what departments will you cut, will you bring down hydro rates…how will you pay off debt…will you bring in a government hiring freeze, a salary cap…?

    Until bill 8 (French language service act) in Ontario is repealed the french will continue to take more government (hospitals, policing, law…) jobs, and wipe out more of our real BNA, UEL history, and also bankrupt the province in the process. They have been bragging about it for decades and the Conservatives have allowed all of this to happen. Liberal, Tory same old story.

  19. WOW! @ Mr Wolfe, for misappropriating your title and power as a secretary of state of Canada, saying that “racist bigoted francophone s”, really??!? uh! Your not helping the situation by feeding more hate or fuel in the fire that isn’t necessary.

    I don’t know where your getting the fact that Francophones are trying to overtake all the jobs. LMAO at the delusional ideation & paranoia, and being so self-centered that this would actually be possible.

    Would you be an expert in the nursing field to understand the nursing cultures and the stresses that we as nurses go through on a daily basis?

    You didn’t mention on how many nursing jobs were given to immigrants and that Ottawa paid for everything for them to come over. This apparently, I found out that approx. 10 years ago the gvt stopped doing this as a Philipino nurse told me tonight how she got into the country. She had been denied entry initially. Her brother in-law signed for her as a child care giver (they too were landed immigrants) and she said she never worked as a child care giver for her brother in-law as it was just for papers. It took 3 yrs for her to be able to work here and she said she worked as a psw for 7 years as the CON would not acknowledge her R.N. from the Philipines and had to upgrade. She wrote the exam 3 times. She also said that she lied on her taxes and paid them even though she never worked as a “nanny” but lived with family. She said her husband was sending money to pay for her taxes to make everything official type thing. There you have it someone that laughs at us Canadians and isn’t afraid to say that she lied on documents to enter into this Country and is now taking a Canadian job as an R.N. To me is she lied about her entry into the country including her family members then what else is she lying about. She then brought her family over (her husband and 3 kids), all lied to get into this Country. So, now you have her husband working and taking a job from a for argument sake an “English” job and so will her kids get educated and have parents like them as role models.

    You never mentioned Bob Rae, and how he affected us nurses in a negative way. No one in Provincial, or Federal Gvt. has been accountable to us and with you above comment creates more dissension. Was this your plan? None of your comments speaks about nursing at all.

    I also come across nurses that speak 4 languages fluently, and so, should they get favor because they are multi lingualism? I think people in Cornwall, need to know that there is a world outside of Cornwall, aka “Little Chicago”.

    I only put examples in my above posts to show that I know what I am talking about and also pointing out that the French people were made to assimilate as this was the gvt’s plan and so they did and grew. What did English do? Did they grow?

    I do believe if you have the qualifications then one should get the job and not give all favored jobs to their friends as it is common practice at the political level.

    I just wish my friend would get her job back as a music therapist. She can get through the french easy enough but she doesn’t think she could make the test. I believe she would do well but why should she when she reads and writes music and also teaches voice & piano and those skills and her qualifications would not match mine or yours as music therapy is her specialty and she is very good at what she does. Cornwall would be smart to have her in this position & I don’t think bilingualism should be a per-requisite for this job as music is a universal language. i.e. What language is Beethoven, or Back’s music…all to enjoy, yes? And nurses are not required to have a music background to work as a R.N. She went to CCVS & I went to ESLC …I guess we broke dividing walls and I hope these walls of dissension and prejudice come down in Cornwall.

    oh yes, another i.e. my father was denied an engineer position in the Province of Quebec because his spoken English had an accent even though reading and writing in English was 100% comprehension. So what was that logic again about French speaking people getting an English jobs again? None of the above Mr Wolfe, is making any sense to me.

    Don’t hate the French as we didn’t do it as Bob Rae is English and caused us this heart ache years ago and affected the nursing jobs.

    Breaking Dividing Walls.

  20. I have seen an email recently with the following, and I ask, is any of it untrue?

    How many residents of Ontario are aware of the manner in which the Ontario French Language Services Act was passed? It would appear, very few, and no wonder! I would suggest that anyone in Cornwall who is not familiar with the details, that they check the Hansard Report, under the date of November 18th, 1986, and find out for themselves. It should be available at your local library. The sole purpose of a Hansard is so that the electorate can be informed as to what has gone on in their Legislature.

    The French Language Services Act, also known as Bill 8, was passed by only 55 members of the 125-member Ontario Legislature, not even one-half of the members in attendance, which certainly cannot be considered as being “passed unanimously” by the full Legislature. The 70 members who absented themselves presumably did so to indicate their disapproval. They would represent a huge majority of residents of Ontario who had absolutely NO say in the passing of this Bill. It was passed almost entirely in the French language for the approximately 95% English-speaking residents of Ontario, and there was no recorded vote.

  21. This has been an interesting topic.

    This is just another fyi: The Queen of England speaks French and so, does the rest of The Royal family. They certainly don’t need to but they do. Why?

  22. Lise, you would have to ask them. If I had a priviledged life style without a need to work 40, 50, 60 hour weeks in 2 jobs, had to make casual conversation with people across the chunnel and in the colonies as part of that lifestyle, maybe things would be different. Let’s work together to reduce taxes so more families could spend time together and watch Ontario’s TFO.

  23. The Queen speaks French privately. Almost a century ago, French was in vogue amongst the Royals. Not anymore. English is the only official language of England. Let’s do the same in Canada.

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