July 20, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Implementation of digital health record: Quebec civil servants forced to work in English

Implementation of digital health record: Quebec civil servants forced to work in English

The health network's employees filed a complaint with the Office québécois de la langue française against the Quebec government because it forced them to work in English since the American giant awarded a $1.5 billion contract to Epic Systems.

An American company won the largest IT contract in Quebec history last year to digitize the entire health network.

The first phase of the agreement is a pilot project to implement a digital health record (DSN) in CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal and CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Quebec. .

The project, called “Vitrine DSN”, will be carried out in collaboration with employees of these two organizations. However, meetings and training are held in English, as people at Epic do not speak French.

A few weeks ago, complaints were made against the Ministry of Health and the CIUSSS de la Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec, our parliamentary office has learned. Note that the working language in Quebec is French and employees are not required to know English.

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) confirms that these complaints have indeed been received and are being investigated.

“Investigations are going on. The office will ensure that the linguistic rights of workers are respected in relation to the training provided to staff for the implementation of the digital health record,” said spokeswoman Chantal Bouchard.

MSSS protects itself

For its part, the Ministry of Health believes it will respect the law.

“More in-depth verifications are ongoing and steps are already being taken with Epic to find permanent solutions,” argued spokesperson Marie-Pierre Blier, indicating that the MSSS has given its full cooperation to the OQLF. The MSSS said that “many of the allegations contained in these complaints” are baseless.

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The ministry reported that simultaneous translation was put in place “as a transitional measure” if training in French was not yet available.

“During meetings, when teams call in English-speaking experts, conversations are translated. The aim is to have access to the best expertise, while ensuring that French is the language of instruction and work,” says Ms. Blair said.

When a DSN is completed, doctors at different institutions can, for example, consult a patient's history without transferring a paper file from one hospital to another.

About 400,000 healthcare workers will need to learn how to use the new tool. Note that the network currently includes 9,000 information systems, 65,000 connected devices, 2,000 telehealth devices, and 220,000 computers.

Other conflict

Furthermore, as recently reported by our parliamentary office, the signing of an agreement with the American giant Epic Systems for a $1.5 billion DSN has also radically changed the Ministry's trends in your health project.

In the summer of 2022, MSSS signed an agreement with the company Aquinax to develop the Front Line Access Counter (GAP) and create the Vos Santé smartphone application, a comprehensive portal for citizens.

Digital GAP allows orphan patients to book an appointment with a family doctor.

The Your Health application was there and ready to launch soon on both the Google Play Store and the App Store, but senior managers of MSSS ignored it.

According to our information, management wants to start Epic Systems from scratch and create another application linked directly to the DSN, even without this expertise or this mandate.

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“Three Complaints” against MSSS

  • The Charter of the French language provides for penal provisions and other sanctions, to which anyone who violates a provision of the Charter or its provisions shall be liable.
  • These are fines ranging from $1,500 to $20,000 in the case of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and a legal entity such as CIUSSS de la Mauricie–Centre-du-Québec.

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