Official languages commissioner condemns Extra-Mural, Tele-Care changes

New Brunswick's official languages commissioner is concerned about the province's plan to transfer management of the Extra-Mural Program and Tele-Care to Medavie Health Services.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau announced on Friday that Ambulance New Brunswick, the Extra-Mural home health care program and Tele-Care 8-1-1 will be merged into a new entity.

Katherine d'Entremont says Medavie EMS has managed ambulance services since 2007, and has had "considerable difficulty respecting its language obligations."

"In view of the many challenges Ambulance NB continues to experience in delivering bilingual services, and this, more than 10 years since its creation, I still have major concerns about the transfer of the management of the Extra-Mural Program and Tele-Care to Medavie," d'Entremont said in a statement.

The commissioner of official languages expressed similar concerns in Feb. 2016 when the province first unveiled plans to transfer management of the programs.

D'Entremont is seeking clarification from Boudreau on "the measures planned to guarantee the respect of citizens' language rights as well as to ensure the vitality of our two official languages."

She wants to know if the Department of Health is requiring that Medavie develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that it has the staff necessary to provide bilingual service throughout the province, and what measures are planned to guarantee that employees will continue to be supervised and receive services in the language currently used in their health network.

D'Entremont says it is up to the province to ensure that a third party contracted to deliver services remains in compliance with the Official Languages Act.