montreal - two nurses at montreal's jewish general hospital, a primarily english institution, have lost their licences and their jobs because they failed to pass a french grammar test required by quebec's professional order of nurses. elizabeth davantes and eulin gumbs say the action is unfair.
they point out that they both financed their education through years of quebec government loans and bursaries, yet now must look for jobs outside the province.
davantes and gumbs had been working at the sir mortimer b. davis jewish general hospital under temporary licences while they took french courses after failing the written grammar test.
the order of nurses of quebec turned down the hospital's latest request to have the temporary licences renewed.
hospital staff in both french and english hospitals are required to pass language proficiency tests, said gérald paquette, the spokesperson for quebec's office de la langue française.
"we have to remember that even though they are called 'english hospitals,' they are required, like all other health establishments in quebec, to offer services in french," he said.
paquette said the tests are compiled with the help of professional orders and employers, and are not imposed by quebec's language branch.
"if the professional order and the employers decided that a certain level of written expression is required, well, these requirements are established by all, not only by the office [de la langue française]," he said.
a head nurse at the jewish general hospital told reporters that the departure of the two nurses comes at a bad time, because many hospitals in quebec are facing a serious nursing shortage.
in a statement, the hospital said the nurses were excellent employees and it wanted to keep them, but quebec's order of nurses refused to renew the licences because of the language test results.
the hospital said it cannot keep unlicensed nurses on staff.
the statement said one of the nurses had been working at the hospital for two years, and the other for five years.
[font=verdana,arial]written by cbc news online staff
here's another article from jan 12 about this story. can anyone answer why the physicians and pharmacists are suspended while the nurses are fired?
i understand that the licensing body for nurses requires this test. is another "body" (quebec's office de la langue française maybe?) responsible for requiring the licensing body to do this and if so, why doesn't this other "body" require the same of physicians and pharmacists? why aren't they fired?
montreal - an english-rights lobby group in quebec is supplying a tutor for two anglophone nurses who lost their jobs at an english hospital because they couldn't pass a written french test.
one of the nurses, eulin gumbs, is now working at a mcdonald's restaurant. the second nurse, elizabeth davantes, is applying for employment insurance benefits.
their former employer, montreal's sir mortimer b. davis jewish general hospital, had tried to keep them after they failed the mandatory test which is required by the provincial nurses' licensing body.
gumbs and davantes were both excellent employees, and nurses are in short supply in quebec, the hospital said in a jan. 4 statement.
quebec's office de la langue française defended the test requirement by saying quebecers have the right to service in french at any hospital in the province, even those designated as english.
the anglophone rights group alliance quebec says it wants to get davantes and gumbs back to work as soon as possible.
the women will work with a montreal tutor who specializes in helping professionals pass the written part of the french-language proficiency test.
doctors, pharmacist flunking test too
as he made the announcement tuesday, alliance quebec president darryl grey said the group has heard from several other health-care workers in the same situation since the nurses' story broke in the first week of january.
two doctors and a pharmacist are among those who have failed the test and lost the right to work for at least three months, grey said.
one doctor said she came from new york to study at mcgill university. because she trained in quebec but failed the test, she has been suspended from her residency as a doctor.
if she had trained outside the province, she would have been able to get a temporary permit to continue until she eventually passed the test.
grey said alliance quebec will consider legal action if there is no breakthrough during upcoming talks with the minister responsible for office de la langue française.
he points out that francophones don't have to take the tests to prove their competency in written french.
quebec's health minister has said he favours mentoring english-speaking medical workers who have failed to pass their french-language competency exams rather than having them leave quebec in order to practise.
written by cbc news online staff
Last edit by begalli on Jan 14, '05
Jan 18, '05
I know Canadians are not lawsuit happy as in the states but I am surprised this is not being challenged in the court system. To lose one's job (indirectly through governmental mandate) over this must be aggravating to say the least.
There are parts of the US where bilingual is PREFERRED but not mandated by the government; I cannot imagine that.
Last edit by mattsmom81 on Jan 18, '05