Interpreters injured on the job: CAPE meets with Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Translation Bureau

Paul Thompson, Greg Phillips, Lucie Séguin


June 28, 2022 - OTTAWA – On Monday, June 27, CAPE President Greg Phillips met with Deputy Minister for Public Services and Procurement Canada, Paul Thompson, as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the Translation Bureau, Lucie Séguin. The meeting was intended to discuss the interpreters’ ongoing workplace health challenges.

Since Parliament moved all its meetings online, an unusually high number of workplace injuries have been filed by federal interpreters, who are CAPE members. In the last two years, CAPE has been relentless in asking the Translation Bureau to improve its handling of the problem.

Without any clear evidence of satisfactory measures adopted with the urgency required, on February 15, 2022, CAPE issued a complaint against the Translation Bureau to the Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada on the grounds that it had failed to provide CAPE members with a safe work environment. At the time of the meeting, CAPE was still awaiting a decision from the Labour Program.

The meeting was therefore an opportunity for CAPE to seek an update on the implementation of a wide range of solutions it had presented to the BOIE in 2022 to eliminate the various health risks to which interpreters have been exposed on a daily basis since the beginning of the pandemic. 

At the meeting, changes that had already been implemented, such as the use of ISO-compliant headsets as well as more breaks for interpreters during each session, were brought up by the Translation Bureau with claims that those measures had started proving effective given the reduction in the number of incident reports being filed.

While committing to continue collaborating with the Translation Bureau to ensure greater protection for its interpreters, CAPE maintained that more satisfactory measures were needed and that the matter was pressing.

Read more about the interpreters’ health issues in a virtual environment.

In attendance

Senior Government Officials

Paul Thompson                                     Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Kiran Hanspal                                        Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Martin Prescott                                      Director General, Workplace Services, Human Resources Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Lucie Séguin                                         Chief Executive Officer, Translation Bureau of Canada

Participants from CAPE

Greg Phillips                                           President
Jennifer George                                     Senior Advisor to the President
Audrey Lizotte                                        Director, Policy and Negotiations, and General Counsel