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Rules not followed when Montreal rape victim redirected to other hospital: OQLF


The English-speaking hospital that refused to perform a forensic kit on a rape victim because she was French-speaking failed to follow procedures, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has ruled.

The OQLF said the rules state that the service must be offered to the victim and that redirecting her to another facility requires her consent.

OQLF President and CEO Dominique Malack announced the findings of the organization's investigation on Tuesday during the study of the Ministry of the French Language's budget appropriations.

The story first broke in the media in July 2023. A rape victim had been refused a forensic kit by the Montreal General Hospital because her mother tongue was French. The police had to take the victim to another hospital, which did not have a forensic kit. At the third hospital, the victim was finally able to receive service.

The OQLF then launched an investigation.

"The General Hospital's application of the protocol, without taking into account its obligation to provide services in French, obviously ran counter to the requirements of the Charter of the French Language," concluded Malack.

"The hospital, therefore, would not have complied with the procedures that stipulate that the service must be explicitly offered to the victim and that his or her redirection must be subject to prior consent," Malack added.

The CEO specified that the ability of the hospital's staff to offer the service in French was "not necessarily in question."

Malack said the OQLF also conducted inspections at various times of the day and week to verify the availability of French service without giving advance notice of its arrival. The Office also met with the Ministry of Health, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and a centre for victims of sexual assault.

"What resulted was the modification of the sexual assault protocol and a reminder to all staff of their obligations," the OQLF said.

Further inspections in spring 2024 confirmed that "the service was available at all times and that the correct protocol was being applied."

In addition, a "ministerial orientation" was issued last November by the Ministry of Health and Social Services "specifying that the services of designated centres must be offered to victims regardless of their language", Malack concluded.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 23, 2024. Top Stories

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