March 20, 2015 5:02 pm
Updated: March 20, 2015 7:23 pm

CHUM superhospital: Quebec union officials say ‘too much English’ on work site


MONTREAL — It’s the biggest construction project in all of Quebec.

A bonanza for the construction industry, thousands of local workers have been working on the CHUM superhospital site for close to four years.

Officials from the construction section of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), one of the largest unions in the province, are saying the project has also been a headache when it comes to language.

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Yves Ouellet, director-general of the FTQ-Construction union, told Global News there has been “too much English” being spoken on the work site of the French-language hospital.

“There’s a complaint almost every week,” Ouellet noted.

“Here we build in French.”

On Friday morning, the union held a protest at the corner of St. Denis and Viger Streets.

Workers held up a banner that read: “Here we build in French.”

“A lot of paperwork and plans are in English on the site,” said union representative Carl Gagnon.

“It causes a lot of problems, a lot of guys only speak French.”

Two construction companies are building the CHUM: OHL Canada from Spain, and Laing-Rourke from England.

Top managers from the firms, Global News was told, speak only English.

Union officials are calling it a “lack of respect.”

The English in the workplace is also a concern for safety, union officials told Global News.

Last August, a worker was hurt on the site; his inability to understand English instructions was seen as the cause.

Close to one hundred complaints have been submitted to the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), the so-called Quebec “language police.”

“It’s a tempest in a glass of water.”

Stephane Mailhot, a company spokesperson, suggested the claims were exaggerated.

“We have received two complaints over the last four years from the OQLF,” said Mailhot.

“Both complaints were resolved.”

Mailhot told Global News the construction consortium has still not received its “francisation” certificate from the OQLF.

“It’s something we’re working on,” he added.

In Quebec, it’s required by law for a company with more than 50 employees.

The CHUM is slated to open its doors to the public in 2016.




© 2015 Shaw Media

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