Yes, the proposal to reform ambulance services contravenes Canadian and New-Brunswick linguistic laws.

Bilingualism Workplace

In December 2018, NB health minister Ted Fleming put forth a reform of language policies pertaining to ambulance services. These changes would allow that in certain parts of the province, the obligation to offer bilingual ambulance service would not apply. The Official Languages commissioner pointed out that not only would these changes endanger the public, they would infringe on language rights as stated in the Canadian Constitution and the NB Official Languages Act. 

According to Health minister Fleming, the existing linguistic policy hinders recrutement and contributes to the shortage of ambulance workers. He argues that the proposed policy changes would solve the problem. 

It is quite difficult to factually verify the possibility that these changes would endanger people's lives. However, from a strictly linguistic rights angle, it appears that the laws, be they federal or provincial, are quite clear about the rights of citizens to obtain services in the language of their choice. 

Several concerned groups in the health sector, including union organizations, have pointed out that the shortage of ambulance workers is difficult in all provinces. Working conditions, salaries and the lack of psychological support are the cause rather that policies pertaining to language.

Commissariat aux langues officielles du N.B.(CLONB)
Commissaire aux langues officielles du N.-B.

"Ambulance reforms contravene NB and Canadian language laws".


June 15, 2020