December 20, 2022 - OTTAWA – Interpreters’ health and safety was once again the focus of a recent meeting between the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) and three Bloc Québécois members of Parliament.
On Tuesday, December 13, CAPE President Greg Phillips met with Claude DeBellefeuille, Julie Vignola, and Louise Chabot to raise concerns over interpreters’ health and safety and review CAPE’s proposed solutions following a workplace injury which led to a freelance interpreter being transported by ambulance to the hospital.
CAPE once again raised our ongoing concerns with federal interpreters’ auditory safety which has been jeopardized since parliamentary meetings moved online, without the proper equipment and protocol to protect its employees. CAPE sounded the alarm as early as May 2020.
Mr. Phillips shared interpreters’ experiences and impacts of the hybrid mode on their health and safety as shared during CAPE’s October 6th appearance before the Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs as part of its “Hybrid Proceedings” study. CAPE made several recommendations including the fact that in-person meetings should be encouraged as much as possible since these are less detrimental to interpreters’ health and safety because the sound is better.
However, as committee meetings and hybrid sessions are likely to continue, it is imperative that health impacts on our professional member employees be limited while ensuring that they can continue to work in their field.
The MPs encouraged interpreters not to hesitate to inform any of their caucus colleagues when they feel anything may be putting their auditory health and safety on the line. All three MPs committed to continue working collaboratively with CAPE to see a resolution to their concerns.
CAPE continues to work with the Government and opposition parties towards building more political support. There is also the need for constant reminders, even in areas where advancements have been made, such as the wearing of House-approved headsets during parliamentary sessions and committee meetings.
The meeting came at the request of Julie Vignola who was copied (together with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and all opposition critics) in a letter CAPE sent to the Acting CEO of the Translation Bureau following the freelancer workplace injury.
Virtual parliament and interpreters: what CAPE is doing
From the Bloc Québécois (BQ)
Party Whip and member of the Board of Internal Economy
Critic for Public Services, Procurement and Government Operations and Vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Human Resources, Skills Development critic
Parliamentary Assistant to MP Claude DeBellefeuille
Parliamentary Assistant to MP Julie Vignola
Parliamentary Assistant to MP Louise Chabot
Participants from CAPE
Senior Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor