On February 23, 2012, the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) issued a press release regarding regulating translation and interpretation as it relates to Ontario’s health care sector. You can read the release at this link (http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/597007). The Health Interpretation Network will be issuing the following response to all their members, partners and relevant government officials.
February 28, 2012
To whom it may concern,
The Healthcare Interpretation Network has been working for many years to address the need to professionalize and regulate community interpretation in the broader public sector, and in particular within healthcare. We are therefore dismayed by the recent press release issued by the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO), which paints a distorted image of the state of translation and interpretation in Ontario’s health sector. In contrast to the grossly overstated dire situation drawn in the release, there is greatly improved awareness within the health sector of the need for appropriate linguistic access strategies and their impact on health equity in Ontario.
This is in large part due to the efforts of the Healthcare Interpretation Network (HIN). With the support of community interpreters, the HIN has worked collaboratively and collegially with all stakeholders to support the development of baseline training standards, as well as a college-based training program. We published a position paper on community interpreting in 2003 that was widely distributed and endorsed by major hospitals and other key stakeholders, and a policy brief in 2007. In 2007, we also published the first edition of the National Standard Guide for Community Interpreting Services,(NSGCIS) the second edition was released just last year. This guide was developed with input from AILIA, ATIO, ACCTII, Critical Link Canada and other key players in the community interpretation sector and has been widely recognized as a national and international baseline for community interpretation.
Most recently, in August 2010, we published a White Paper entitled “What makes a community interpreter? Recommendations on Certification Qualifications for Community Interpreters in Ontario”. We have undertaken funded research on a national scale, organized public policy and educational events, presented at national and international conferences and met with policy leaders to promote standards in and regulation of community interpreting. This success represents the commitment of members across the community sector to achieve the highest quality service and health outcomes for people by effectively eliminating language barriers to service.
Throughout all of this work, we have been transparent, collegial and collaborative in our attempts to achieve our objective of high quality, professional interpretation in the public services sector. We are aware of and have been supportive of ATIO’s role in the sector. In fact, in our 2011 Annual Report published in November 2011, we included an update from the ATIO sub-committee that has been working on amending its governing legislation.
The Healthcare Interpretation Network has long been the main body advocating for the professionalization of the community interpretation sector in Ontario. Thus we are dismayed that ATIO in its press release has chosen not to acknowledge the significant gains achieved by the HIN towards professionalizing the sector. Nor do they acknowledge other key efforts undertaken by ONLIS, a network of agencies funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration under its Language Interpreter Services (LIS) program. Both ONLIS and the Healthcare Interpretation Network collectively represent over 5,000 trained and qualified community interpreters and have been working in this field for more 20 years. Collectively we have rendered thousands of hours of professional service in the community abiding by the NSGCIS and standards that preceded them. ATIO’s qualifications to solely regulate the community interpreting profession are as yet unsubstantiated.
We strongly believe that progress toward professionalizing and regulating translation and interpretation in the health care sector must be accomplished collaboratively – as has already been demonstrated by the great strides the Healthcare Interpretation Network has achieved to date. We believe that if ATIO has the best interests of health care consumers and qualified interpreters and translators in mind, it will productively engage key stakeholders such as HIN and ONLIS in discussions of how to move professionalized, regulated interpretation and translation forward. Collectively we can create a stronger and integrated interpretation sector, building on the assets and capacities of every stakeholder.
President of Healthcare Interpretation Network