The patient-rights group at St. Mary’s Hospital was kept in the dark over how to resolve concerns about the erosion of English at the Côte-des-Neiges institution following Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s sweeping reforms, the Montreal Gazette has learned.
Under Bill 10, St. Mary’s fell under the authority of a newly-formed umbrella organization in 2015. Soon after, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal began replacing St. Mary’s signs on clinics that featured French and English lettering of equal size with signs that the users’ committee found to be confusing — with the English in smaller, thinner typeface that is hard to read by many older patients.
The users’ group also raised concerns about the lack of bilingual letterhead on official St. Mary’s correspondence and anecdotes of English-speaking patients who received replies from the CIUSSS in French only.
The provincial Liberal government added an amendment to Bill 10 to address fears in the anglophone community that English might become less visible and spoken less often once their community hospitals were amalgamated under the umbrella organizations.
Bill 10 does contain a provision for an advisory committee to “preserve the cultural, historic, linguistic or local character” of an amalgamated institution like St. Mary’s. However, neither Barrette’s health ministry nor the CIUSSS board of directors informed the patient-rights group about the existence of such a committee or how to go about fixing the signs problem.