It’s no surprise that not everyone in Montreal appreciates those who speak English and make very little effort to speak French.
A slightly annoyed waiter or shop owner is one thing.
Getting denied hospital service is quite another.
But that’s what happened to Praveen Albuquerque, a Montreal man who was initially denied access at Verdum Hospital because he spoke English. When he went in to get a hospital card, Albuquerque – who is actually bilingual – chose to speak English to the administrative clerk.
And she wasn’t too impressed.
“At that point she said to me in a very unpleasant manner, ‘En français s’il vous plaît.’ I speak French perfectly but when it comes to medical things, I prefer to speak in English so that everything is clear,” Albuquerque told the CBC.
So, he told her so.
“She kind of got very agitated, and she said, ‘No, this is Quebec and you will speak to me in French.'”
Of course, all Quebec citizens are entitled to emergency medical services in both languages. But there’s apparently a grey area when it comes to non-emergencies and administrative issues.
“It depends on the availability of personnel or willingness of the administration,” said Brunet, head of the Quebec Council for the Protection of Patients.
With that said, a spokesperson for the hospital told CBC that any patient is entitled to be served in English. If there’s a language issue, they should file a complaint.
Although Albuquerque got his card in the end, he remains vocal about his experience. He says he’d like the government to ensure access to health-care services in English at all times, claiming that if one’s language is English, they shouldn’t be treated like “second-class citizens.”
We have a feeling this isn’t the last we will hear of this.