Canada

Fired anglophone nurses getting French tutor

English rights group in Quebec funding a tutor for 2 nurses fired from jobs at English hospital for failing mandatory French test.

An English-rights lobby group in Quebec is supplying a tutor for two anglophone nurses who lost their jobs at an English hospital because they couldn't pass a written French test.

One of the nurses, Eulin Gumbs, is now working at a McDonald's restaurant. The second nurse, Elizabeth Davantes, is applying for employment insurance benefits.

Their former employer, Montreal's Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, had tried to keep them after they failed the mandatory test which is required by the provincial nurses' licensing body.

Gumbs and Davantes were both excellent employees, and nurses are in short supply in Quebec, the hospital said in a Jan. 4 statement.

Quebec's Office de la langue française defended the test requirement by saying Quebecers have the right to service in French at any hospital in the province, even those designated as English.

The anglophone rights group Alliance Quebec says it wants to get Davantes and Gumbs back to work as soon as possible.

The women will work with a Montreal tutor who specializes in helping professionals pass the written part of the French-language proficiency test.

Doctors, pharmacist flunking test too

As he made the announcement Tuesday, Alliance Quebec president Darryl Grey said the group has heard from several other health-care workers in the same situation since the nurses' story broke in the first week of January.

Two doctors and a pharmacist are among those who have failed the test and lost the right to work for at least three months, Grey said.

One doctor said she came from New York to study at McGill University. Because she trained in Quebec but failed the test, she has been suspended from her residency as a doctor.

If she had trained outside the province, she would have been able to get a temporary permit to continue until she eventually passed the test.

Grey said Alliance Quebec will consider legal action if there is no breakthrough during upcoming talks with the minister responsible for Office de la langue française.

He points out that francophones don't have to take the tests to prove their competency in written French.

Quebec's health minister has said he favours mentoring English-speaking medical workers who have failed to pass their French-language competency exams rather than having them leave Quebec in order to practise.