As the last adult Anglophone rehabilitation centre in Quebec debates a possible merger that would take away its legal status to serve clients in English, we are learning that Constance-Lethbridge has not been providing clients with English files for the last few years.
In an interview with The Gazette the executive director of the NDG rehab centre, Micheline Jodoin, said for the last couple years “all their documentation is only in French,” because the majority of their patients are no longer Anglophones.
She said if something is “very, very important they may translate it.”
Prominent Anglo rights lawyer Eric Maldoff says the law is clear; “an institution is recognized as bilingual if it serves a clientele, the majority who speak a language other than French, it’s not that they have to be English Speaking.”
“I think the institution is not only taking a narrow view, I think they are not acting in accordance with the law on this issue,” Maldoff continued.
“Bilingual status can be taken away under certain circumstances but you can’t take it upon yourself to say I’ve counted and I don’t have a majority, that’s completely incorrect.” Civil rights lawyer Julius Grey added.
Should Constance-Lethbridge merge with the three Francophone rehabilitation centres, it will lose its bilingual status.
“I think Lethbridge has to think very, very carefully about its responsibilities to the community and its responsibility for ensuring that service continues to be available,” Maldoff said.
A spokesperson for Constance-Lethbridge said Micheline Jodoin was not available for an interview, but she wanted to clarify that all external communications to patients are offered in French and in English. She said patients files are mostly in French, unless a patient asks for a translation, adding that the same translation policy stands for internal communications among staff and board members.
A public board meeting on the merger will be held at 5 PM at the rehab centre. Anyone who would like to ask a question must register their question in person at the centre by 4 PM.