CFN – As we draw near the two month mark of the Bilingual Nurse Protest of the Cornwall Ontario Community Hospital’s implementation of the French Language Services Act patterns seem to be evolving.
One that a core of nurses have issues over not either being able to be hired as a Unilingual English nurse, and if so not only attaining full time employment status, but being able to gain promotions. Anecdotal evidence has been presented of individual nurses having worked part time for as long as twenty years without gaining full time status.
What started out with one nurse speaking out led to Dr. Dany Tombler of the Hospital writing a letter to the editor that led to further controversy. From one nurse the protest peaked at hundreds coming out for a rally.
South Stormont Deputy Mayor reads Dr. Tombler’s Letter at SD&G Counties session.
Politically the City of Cornwall has buried its head saying it’s not the city’s issue to get involved in although Councilor Clement (rumbled to either be the next mayor of Cornwall or getting a judgeship depending on whom you speak with) being the only councilor to attend some of the meetings.
Likewise our MP Guy Lauzon, and MPP, Jim (my handshake is worthless) McDonell are hiding or fuddling on the issue.
South Stormont Council voted to withhold monies to the hospital until some discussion and movement could take place. They not only have been vilified for taking this action, but their requests for the United Counties of SD&G and City of Cornwall to follow suit were met with timid rejection. While in private supporting South Stormont, fear of a backlash from Francophone voters in the area have turned them from leaders into the led.
Clarity is something that’s been missing from this debate which has turned into a huge Language battle instead of an issue that should be discussed.
The hospital has failed hugely from its refusal to grant interviews to answering questions so slickly that some people forget what the topic of the question was.
Madame Periard what is 2+2?
Blue, and we at CCH are very proud of the quality of our blue and I personally resent your insinuations that we don’t do our best to make sure our Blue serves the public to the best of our abilities as mandated by the Province of Ontario.
I know. That’s a bit satirical, but here are some video clips from the meetings in South Stormont and at the Counties and you see if you can make sense out of what Ms Periard is spouting?
Mayor McGillis and Nurse Chris Cameron
There are now over 2,000 signatures on petitions regarding this issue and at the two month mark the only real movement by Ms Periard and the Hospital seems to be inspired by Tim Hortons changing the names of the sizes of their cups in that they have said that they will be changing the classifications of French skills.
Meanwhile the protesters stand their vigil and keep adding signatures hoping that the Province will step in as they did in Ottawa. The oddest thing about this process has been the silence of the nurses unions and nurses themselves.
The excuse that nurses fear for their jobs is simply running thin and many feel that for this protest to have any impact more will have to step forward.
At the session this week a busload of people from Alexandria decided to show their support. Mostly seniors. One woman saw me with my camera and emotionally shared in French that the hospital should not stop serving the public in French. I did my best with my French to speak with her. She either couldn’t or wouldn’t speak any English back; her husband came over and it boggled my mind that someone would travel from Alexandria to Cornwall on a school bus to protest over an issue that was never on the table.
Is changing French being an asset instead of a requirement something that unions would really go to arbitration over? Everyone agrees; at least from the protesters I’ve heard from and talked with that patients should be served in French if they request that, but based on actual requests for such service is it really necessary to suggest as the hospital has that 100% of front line staff should be Highly proficient in the French language? Does it make sense that it’s only ok to hire or promote unilingual English speakers if a French speaker can’t be found for a position?
Of course it’s not easy to run a hospital. There are huge challenges with budget cuts, funding needs, unions, crazy demands from MP’s for special service occasionally,and such, but when you’re facing a 2,000 plus signature petition shouldn’t hospital leadership doing more than simply reading off of cue cards after two months?
This not need a language war. Outside groups and agencies need not make hay in the media over something that should never have grown to what it is today. Good management gets ahead of an issue and smart management realizes that reasonably happy employees that have some sort of sense of fairness perform better than others.
And that the public; which really wants to support the hospital are being cheated by such arrogant verbiage and over management from the likes of Helen Periard.
I’ll end this piece with some wise words from Dr. Lorne Sharf. It’s funny, but in Dr. Tombler’s initial letter to the editor he mentions essentially how the board rejected the position of the Doctors on this issue. Maybe it’s time to listen to our Doctors and Nurses more and less from well coiffed over payed Bureaucrats especially as we the taxpayers have to pay the freight?
As Dr. Sharf pleaded. “Please let us do our job.”
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