Yukon hospitals looking to improve French services

The Yukon Hospital Corporation's website will be getting a facelift in the next few weeks to make it more accessible to the territory's francophones.

The Yukon Hospital Corporation’s website will be getting a facelift in the next few weeks to make it more accessible to the territory’s francophones.

The bilingual website is the first major project to come out of a memorandum of understanding signed late last year between the hospital corporation and the Yukon’s French Language Services Directorate.

Yukon is officially the third most bilingual jurisdiction in Canada with 13 per cent of its population speaking both official languages, according to the directorate.

A two-year pilot project aimed at improving bilingual signs, documentation and awareness of French services at the hospital wrapped up in late 2015.

As a result, most of the signs in all three of the Yukon’s hospitals are bilingual and about 80 per cent of documents are now available in both languages, according to hospital spokesperson James Low.

Efforts to make French translators available were less successful. As part of the pilot project, staff at the hospital’s specialist clinic were supposed to greet patients in both English and French and then inform French speakers that an over-the-phone translator was available if they needed it, Low said.

It’s a service that is available across the hospital but data shows that translators were only used about 10 times a year, Low said.

It appears the service wasn’t being consistently offered by staff or asked for by patients, he said.

“What it really comes down to is a lack of awareness that it’s still available.”

Phone translation is going to continue to be available 24 hours a day. Low said the hospital is working to increase public awareness of the service.

“If you do have people who speak French but you’re never offered the service, because we’re so used to not getting the services, we don’t ask for it anymore,” said l’association franco-yukonnaise

executive director Isabelle Salesse.

While over-the-phone translation is better than nothing, Salesse said, in-person conversations are ideal. That’s particularly true when dealing with very personal and possibly frightening health matters, she said.

It’s important to identify hospital staff who can speak French and which services need the most francophone people, she said.

As part of the new MOU, Yukon’s French Services Directorate is starting a new capacity assessment to try and answer those questions.

Director Patrice Tremblay says his office will be looking at identifying bilingual staff,

as well as any gaps that still exist in forms, documentation and signage.

“In the longer term, the objective is to maximize the capacities in place and to be strategic as to how we use the bilingual resources,” he said in an email.

“There are already many bilingual staff working at the hospital as we speak.”

The three-year plan is to have French services that are visible, available and publicized, Low said.

The Yukon branch of the national Francophone Health Network just finished its own needs assessment of all health services in the Yukon, Salesse said. The results are not in yet.

It will be important that groups like the network are part of plans for the hospital going forward, she said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council contemplates wage freeze for 2021

Hartland brings forward notice of motion

Raises approved for City of Whitehorse management

Deal will begin with 2.6 per cent increase retroactive to 2019

What to expect: Yukon legislature resumes Oct. 1

In March the legislative assembly quickly passed the budget before ending early

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Sept. 30, 2020

Yukon artist’s work featured in national exhibit

Nicole Favron named as Yukon winner for 2020 BMO Art! competition

Men charged after police see suspected crack cocaine during traffic stop

Two men are facing charges after a traffic stop in downtown Whitehorse… Continue reading

CPAWS Yukon, Yukon Conservation Society encouraged by territory’s parks strategy

The conservation manager for CPAWS Yukon and executive director of the Yukon… Continue reading

School council elections taking place the first week of October

There are 30 contested spots on school councils in the territory

Hot Hounds bikejor race serves as lone summer competition

Held in Mount Lorne, the race was organized by the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon

Whitehorse operations building officially open

Staff are taking phased approach to moving in

North of Ordinary Experience Centre shutting down

COVID-19 has caused bookings for the space to become almost non-existent, owner says

Canada Games Centre could get new playground

Council to vote on contract award

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read