Creole-speaking hospital workers elicit warning from OQLF
Published Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:33PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 17, 2013 7:09PM EST
An east-end psychiatric facility is at the centre of a new language-related incident after a complaint sent to the province’s language watchdog claimed two employees spoke Creole, not French, to each other in the workplace.
On Dec. 3, the Office Quebecois de la langue francaise sent the Hopital Riviere-des-Prairies a warning and threatened to level a fine against the institution if it did not take action.
The hospital sent a letter to the OQLF Tuesday explaining the measures it's taken to address the complaint.
A special meeting was held last week to remind employees the official language of the workplace is French.
The complaint concerns one particular ward, and it seems the employees sometimes spoke Creole while working and during private conversations on their lunch break.
All complaints are confidential, so the hospital has no way of knowing who filed it or which employees were speaking Creole.
The conversation would violate Bill 101 if it pertained to their work duties and was held in a language other than French.
A spokeswoman for hospital says this may be more of an interpersonal issue than a language issue.
Johanne Gagnon said the hospital says whoever filed the complaint went straight to the language watchdog and never spoke to management about the concerns, creating some frustration that the issue wasn't dealt with internally.
“In a perfect world, the person should be able to say to their colleagues ‘Can you speak in French? When you speak Creole I can’t understand what you’re saying, and it’s important that I have all the clinical information. It makes me feel like you’re talking about me and that makes me uncomfortable,’” she said.
Still, the hospital says clinical exchanges must be in French so that all staff and patients can understand the information.
Meanwhile, the OQLF says it's just following protocol by investigating the complaint.
Jean-Pierre Le Blanc, spokesman for the OQLF, said every complaint it receives is investigated in the same way.
Though he wouldn’t comment on this case specifically, he did say it’s possible upon examination, the claim may be deemed to be unfounded.
“Then we will just close the case and everything will be as usual,” he said.