Thursday April 28, 2022 - OTTAWA – Improvements to federal interpreters’ working conditions was the focus of a recent meeting between the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) and the Bloc Québécois.
On Friday, April 22, CAPE President Greg Phillips met with Bloc Québécois party whip Claude DeBellefeuille, also a member of the Board of Internal Economy, and Mario Beaulieu, Official Languages critic and Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on Official Languages, to review CAPE’s proposed solutions.
Threats to the health and safety of federal interpreters, which in several cases have resulted in injuries, have been at the center of a two-year-long struggle with the federal government. The level of frustration has escalated because of the slow response and inadequate corrective measures applied since CAPE’s first appeal in 2020. CAPE has been raising the alarm with the government since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting took place following the submission of CAPE’s brief on this issue to the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy (BOIE). The BOIE started investigating this issue on February 17th, meeting with key witnesses to better assess the problem and respond adequately. The BOIE’s involvement is a potential game-changer, as it has the capacity make binding decisions.
DeBellefeuille has been championing the urgent pursuit of a remedy and went on the record recognizing the seriousness of the problem. And like CAPE, DeBellefeuille and Beaulieu understand that “there is no bilingualism without interpreters,” recognizing that this is no ordinary administrative issue of secondary importance, but rather a situation that could eventually affect that government’s ability to live up to its bilingualism mandate.
Both MPs committed to working collaboratively with CAPE to see a resolution of this issue.
CAPE has met with all five political parties represented in Parliament since the issue was flagged. CAPE continues to work with the Government and opposition parties towards building more political support to see that the recent recommendations made to the BOIE are adopted and enforced.
Virtual parliament and interpreters: what CAPE is doing
From the Bloc Québécois
Mme. Claude DeBellefeuille BQ party whip and member of the Board of Internal Economy
M. Mario Beaulieu Official Languages critic and Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on Official Languages
Carl Pilotte Researcher (MP Claude DeBellefeuille)
Jonathan Beauchamp Member’s Assistance (MP Mario Beaulieu)
Participants from CAPE
Greg Phillips President
Jennifer George Senior Advisor to the President
Dina Epale Senior Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor