Cornwall Ontario Community Hospital Bilingual Staffing Policy Protest Grows – March 30, 2012

CFN – An interesting evening Wednesday after council as I sat in on a meeting of nurses and supporters of the CCH Bilingual Staff policy protest here in Cornwall.

Nurse Christopher Cameron’s petition is now closing in on the 3,000 signature mark and it’s uncovering some hidden undercurrents at CCH.  It’s becoming more than just a language policy and intolerance issue, but a sign of alleged poor practices and management at the hospital.

When you have nurses with over 30,000  hours of part time work being denied full time status that’s an issue to cause concern.

When you have 5 unilingual nurses being refused a position over a six month rookie purely because of language skills many can understand frustrations within the community especially as there appears to be a under staffing issue at the Hospital.

Does a morgue attendant really need advanced French skills?

We’re currently sifting through documents leaked to CFN which on the surface are quite damning of the Hospital under the care of Jeanette Despatie and the leadership of Helen Periard.

The nurses I met, nearly 20 people were at the meeting,  shared more in depth about their fears for reprisals or loss of income.   When asked about their Unions the answers were unanimous that they Unions were letting them down and  not bringing their issue to management.

When asked why the nurses for example didn’t switch unions or decertify they said that there’d be a 90 day window where they’d be with no contract and they feared CCH Management simply picking them off one by one.


Likewise the nurses expressed frustration with a lack of support from Elected Officials from the MP Guy Lauzon, MPP Jim McDonell, and Cornwall City Council.

It was amazing seeing the spirit of these nurses; some of whom had just finished 12 hour shifts.   One nurse had just finished 3 days of 12 hour shifts, was called in for a fourth and of course is a part timer!

She shared that the hospital was over loaded, and had a major flu issue going on as well.     If a nurse calls in sick and a replacement isn’t readily available I was told a nurse going off duty has to stay.     It’s a wonder the nurses themselves are succumbing more because your immune system weakens with fatigue and stress.

While this scribbler could clearly see frustration on most in attendance there was also a bold strength and commitment to keep working towards getting the Province to initiate an investigation of the Hospital’s practices.

They also said they’d continue to picket the hospital in spite of attacks such as the one that occurred recently, but to the group’s frustration was not reported on in spite of another media person recording it on video.

We will be updating this story as information comes in and if you wish to submit any materials email us at

Cornwall Free News


  1. Nurses are the backbone of our care system, many of us are ready to support them. Just provide the GPS info and date! Who can we call, email or mail?

    It is rather distressing to think there is more going on, so it should be confirmed or denied with proof either way.

  2. Despatie/Periard…..Put a french-speaking person in charge of an english hospital and they’ll try and change that hospital into a french-speaking one. Separatism is alive and well in Cornwall.

  3. So is bigotry and prejudice.

    Mrs. Despatie does not speak french. There goes that conspiracy theory.

  4. A couple of things The Ontario Nurse’s Assoc. I would think would be a good place to start, and secondly I believe it is common if there is not a replacement for a nurse scheduled for duty who cannot come in then the one on duty or another one already on site is asked to stay, this is at double time I do believe!

  5. Yes, there are more issues and yes I am a nurse!!! Discrimination big time #1! Despatie recently stated to the press that hospital wait times are down…..bologna!! They just shove the sick patients on stretchers in hallways up on the floors. That is how they get their numbers now….they are fudged to look good! I challenge any press person to go and speak with a patient in the hallways on surgical unit etc. Perhpas a French inexperienced nurse will have all of the solutions for that joke of a mess of a hospital!!!!!

  6. Alfred in their eyes it is only overtime. I have contacted ONA…..apparently they are working with the staff HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  7. Stick to your guns. I was wondering why 2 francophones are in charge of the Cornwall hospital?

    There is absolutely no reason why this bilingualism policy should exist. Fight,fight and fight till you win.
    As for the labor situation in the hospital regarding the nurses’ union, Ontario does have a labor relations board which oversees such matters as well as an employee standards act which oversees misuse of employees.
    Maybe the nurses should consult these bodies for possible assistance.
    Also, the human rights tribunal may want to look into patient abuse, given that the french nurses hired ,in favor of the experienced unilingual English nurses,cannot provide the care that the experienced english nurses can give.

    No matter what don’t give up, and put as much pressure as possible on the elected rep’s in your ridings. make this an election issue. There are far more people supporting you than you think

    James Quealey


  8. Thanks so much for your kind words of wisdom James! I believe when push comes to shove, people will get out there and do what is right. The snowball effect has begun. Hopefully we can put a stop to this nonsense before it heads your way.

  9. Oh yes, and one more thing. Everyone, even out of towners…..please copy and send this video to all your friends, family, co-workers. The people of Canada have a right to know about this! Thank you.

  10. Do we not have an Ombudsman here in Ontario who could put an end to the problem?

  11. this language requirement problem does not apply to all of Ontario! only certain areas. Do you not think someone would have stepped in by now if there was a way to correct it and why the union is not doing anything. Ontario Gov has put this ruling in place.
    James is does not apply to Mississauga or Toronto so you really do not know what you are talking about, sorry there is a requirement of two languages in this region

  12. Thanks for correction Eric Toronto and area must have changed a lot!!! and why is no other area speaking out or are they? We never hear anything on the news in the paper etc..

  13. Since the hospital is having trouble recruiting enough bilingual nurses, it makes sense to hire some part-time who don’t meet the language requirements and tell them that to become full-time they’ll likely need to improve their language skills. That way, you can hire people who aren’t necessarily bilingual at the outset, but give them a chance to improve.

  14. Lolochuck…please know there are many many people who support you and there will be many more once the word gets out. The discrimination is going on in more places than Cornwall. You guys need to set up an online petition so we can email and post it on facebook and other places.

  15. oh and Donnie…it is all part of the game. There are english speakers that tow the line and benefit financially. Lot’s of places claim certain percentages of designated bilingual jobs, yet when it comes down to hiring, guess who is chosen. New Brunswick is full of it to the detriment of the majority english speakers of the province. Do some research on the youth leaving new brunswick for out west, where they can be free to live and work in what ever culture they choose.

  16. Alfred Toronto is under FLSA jurisdiction as is Kingston, Winchester,,Sud-bury,Ottawa and lots of other places more hospitals could be designated and lots of other partially government funded places could ask for designation, but this problem is not only unique to FLSA jurisdiction The Federal Government has discriminatory hiring policies as well!! weather your French or English Or Whatever Every Canadian should have equal opportunity for employment Bilingualism is definitely an asset but is not a requirement and does not make one Canadian better than the other .

  17. Thanks buddie miller. One of our next steps will be an online petition. I think all of Ontario should have their say as well. It is just a matter of time if we don’t stop discrimination now.

  18. These practices need to be stopped across the province now! Lord knows we aren’t offered bilingual services when we enter Quebec! We can’t even get a bilingual construction sign to save our life on a federal highway. Our politicians sell us out to keep the Seperatists happy. Its time for the Ontario people to rise up.
    Online petition!

  19. I believe that a person …either French or English should have the opportunity to be able to be spoken to in a language that he/she understands.

  20. Colette, is there any incidence where a Francophone has not been able to communicate with someone at the hospital before the FLSA? I think the only health care institution/office which denies service in a language the the French only clinic.

  21. Half of everything for the French and 100% of everything in Quebec


    Questions of Linguistic Equalities? Throughout Canada now millions, in fact billions of unaffordable dollars are being spent to upgrade Canadians to a country of bilingualism literacy.

    On an associate note here in lies the problem between the French and the English…the Bill of Rights and Freedoms. The French believe that equal rights means 50% of everything, all jobs, 50/50, all printed material, 50/50, all linguistic services 50/50…all this and more except of course within the province of Quebec where it is 100% of everything as in the Ontatio town of Russell.

    On the other hand the English had no choice but to accept the extra fine print on soup cans etc, 50/50 with all written materials yet only where numbers warrant on linguistic and on job matters.

    Prime Minister Harper and others please take note and re-legislate the Bill of Rights so all of us can sleep at night.

    Basically neither knows where the line of fairness now lies. Take, take and demand as one can seems to be the rule excepting the heavy handedness of the french through laws suits which the English have not yet done.

    So now there is a steamroller effect in parliament on now for the french equation while the English continue to lay dorment. Go figure.

    Now we know why.

    Dave Windsor


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