Horizon Health is denying francophones rights: group

A citizens group in Dieppe says Horizon Health Network is denying francophones their legal rights.

President of a language equality group says health services are not consistently bilingual

A citizens group in Dieppe says Horizon Health Network is denying francophones their legal rights.

Dr. Hubert Dupuis, president of the Committee for Equality of Heath in French, said health services in the province are not consistently bilingual.  

"They are not being treated in their mother tongue and I think this is very important," said Dupuis.   

Under New Brunswick's Official Languages Act, citizens have the right to receive services from government departments in both official languages.  

"I think that either be it at the CAT lab in Saint John or the Electro physiology cardiac labs in Saint John, or be it in neurosurgery, in trauma, in neonatal intensive care — all of these service we don't have on the francophone side," he said.

Pauline Gallant, Horizon Health Network's director of official languages, said not all staff are bilingual. But, through scheduling and recruitment, Horizon hopes to eventually offer both languages in all hospital departments.   

"We've had three complaints this year and we've dealt with those and I think we are doing a very good job at doing that," said Gallant.  

"But we do invite people to let us know if they would like to see other changes or to contact us because I think this feedback is very important to continue improving and to be able to pinpoint any of our weak points."

Dr. Jim Parrott’s controversial comments about the province’s health system that caused him to be booted out of the Progressive Conservative caucus also reopened a debate about linguistic duality in New Brunswick a few weeks ago.

Jacques Verge said when he underwent prostate cancer surgery at the Moncton Hospital in December of 2011, "All of the nurses were English and the only person that spoke French was the janitor. The doctor was an English doctor that didn't speak French."  

Gallant said Horizon is the process of hiring more bilingual staff to better accommodate francophone patients.  

"We are aware that not all of our staff is bilingual and this is why we are adopting the team approach and we are continuing to recruit bilingual staff as needed," said Gallant.