May 01, 2021

By Jeremy Logan

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Interpreters who have been the French or English voice of doctors and politicians for the public during the COVID-19 pandemic say a federal department has told them if they fall ill, they don’t have benefits.

Canada’s chapter of the International Association of Conference Interpreters recently penned a letter to Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand asking for help.

Association advocate Nicole Gagnon says they were recently informed by the department that should anyone fall ill, they wouldn’t be entitled to coverage because they are freelancers, not employees.

She says they were also told the same goes if someone needs to isolate or quarantine because of COVID-19.

Public Services and Procurement Canada has not responded to a request for comment.

Gagnon says interpreters are upset and already face increased injury because of the sound quality of the online platform Parliament uses for virtual meetings.

As Canada has two official languages, Parliament cannot sit without parliamentarians being provided translation services under the Official Languages Act.

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