Community Interpreters in Ontario – Immediate Release – response to ATIO

Please be advised of OCASI’s response to the ATIO news release (

See below:

Ontario Network of Language Interpretation Services.

 For Immediate Release

Community Interpreters in Ontario

OTTAWA, February 29, 2012 – The Ontario Network of Language Interpretation Services (ONLIS) is very disturbed by the message conveyed in the recent release by the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO).

The ONLIS is a network of 8 language interpretation services across Ontario providing professional language interpretation services to service providers in the health, social and legal sector. For the past 25+ years, this program has been financially supported by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

“ We are appalled by the assertion of ATIO that all Community Interpreters are unqualified and untrained “ says Anna Hendrikx and Lucya Spencer, co-chairs of ONLIS. “Many of these interpreters are foreign trained professionals i.e. doctors, lawyers, teachers, psychologists etc. who successfully completed the Language Interpretation Training Program offered at the Community Colleges or community agencies. They have completed up to 180 hours of training and testing, prior to being awarded a certificate of completion. In addition they have participated in ongoing professional development sessions, completed other requirements including a language proficiency test and police clearance”, added Spencer.

To state that ‘Any individual who speaks two languages can walk into a hospital and call themselves a Medical Interpreter…” is a gross misrepresentation of what is currently happening in Ontario as it relates to Community Interpreters. It also implies that hospitals utilize a ‘flippant’ approach when serving patients who are unable to communicate in either English or French. While we acknowledge the need for improvement by some hospitals, we know many use ‘trained’ community interpreters in their respective settings.

While we support professionalizing and regulating Community Interpretation, we think ATIO has taken a confrontational approach to this matter. We would like to encourage ATIO to engage in open dialogue with groups like ONLIS and the Healthcare Interpretation Network (HIN), so they can have a better understanding of what is happening in the Language Interpretation sector, garner support for their work and build relationships with those agencies that are working tirelessly to bridge the communication gap between the residents of Ontario who are unable to communicate in English or French and the service providers in the various sectors.

By working together we can build a better Ontario.

For more information, contact any of the following:


Northern Ontario

Cathy Woodbeck, Executive Director

Thunder Bay Multicultural Association

Tel: 807 345 0551


Eastern Ontario

Lucya Spencer, Executive Director

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa

Tel: 613 729 3145


South West Ontario

Anna Hendrix, Executive Director

Across Languages – Translation & Interpretation Services

Tel: 519 642 7247


Lucia Harrison, Executive Director

Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre

Tel: 519 745 2593


Rosana Thoms, Executive Director

Information Niagara

Tel: 905 682 1900


Kathleen Thomas, Executive Director

Multicultural Council of Windsor Essex County

Tel: 519 255 1127



Latha Sukumar, Executive Director

Multilingual Community Interpreter Services

Tel: 416 426 7051


Nora Angeles, Director Language Interpretation Services

Barbara Schilfer Commemorative Clinic

Tel: 416 323 9149

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