Deaf couple turned away from Statistics Canada survey
Woman says parents deserve apology from federal agency
A Fredericton woman wants an apology from Statistics Canada for the way it treated her profoundly deaf parents after they asked for an interpreter’s help with a survey.
Melissa Hinds said Statistics Canada chose her parents to participate in a survey about technology. The invitation came from a woman who knocked at her parents’ door and used written notes to explain the survey.
Her parents agreed to participate but asked for the assistance of a sign language interpreter, Hinds said.
Two days later a note showed up in their mailbox, she said.
"The note basically just said there were no signing services available — like none at all," Hinds said.
‘They can read, can’t they?’
When Hinds complained to Statistics Canada, she said, she was stunned by one manager's reply.
"Her exact words were: ‘Well, they can read, can't they?’" she said.
"You know what? This isn't even about the survey anymore. I'm sure my parents could care less. This is about a violation of rights."
Hinds said she plans to lodge a formal complaint with the statistics agency.
Martine Lamontagne, the assistant director for Statistics Canada’s eastern region, said the incident with Hinds's parents should never have happened and will be investigated.
"I think that there was a miscommunication in this case," Lamontagne said. "I think probably, like I said, I need to clarify probably some procedures with my staff and I will do that."
She said Statistics Canada tries to accommodate all potential participants when it conducts surveys.
'I'm not going to let it drop'
The Hindses say the situation is particularly frustrating because Statistics Canada randomly selected their house for the survey, approached them to participate, then was unable to accommodate them.
"They are feeling pretty let down by this — disheartened," Melissa said of her parents.
Hinds said she is angry.
"I was disappointed in the beginning, and now it is at the point where I am not going to let it drop," she said.
Lynn LeBlanc, the executive director of the Saint John Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, said the Hinds family's story is all too familiar for her organization.
"It would be like asking a person who speaks Russian, ‘Do you not read English at the level that needs to be read to deal in federal government services?‘" LeBlanc said.