Canadian Courts Suffer from Interpreter Shortages
Ontario Court Judge Casey Hill says that the Canadian court system is experiencing a logjam in its courts because of a shortage of acceptable accredited legal interpreters. The situation is so dire, Hill says, that judges are “pirating” interpreters from each other. For example, Vancouver is trying to lure interpreters away from Ottawa by doubling their pay rate. Hill, who made his comments at the recent annual meeting of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, believes the problem dates back to at least 2005, but, he says, Canada’s judicial system did not recognize it or take action. He estimates that Ontario needs 150,000 hours of interpreting services each year. The Ministry of the Attorney General says it has 25 full-time accredited interpreters and approximately 800 freelance interpreters available to fill in when needed. Not all of the freelancers are qualified or accredited, however, and defense attorneys have argued that the use of a non-accredited interpreter is grounds for appeal. In response to the shortage, the Ministry established new standards for interpreter testing and training in 2009. Of the 225 Ontario court interpreters who took the first proficiency exam under the new standards, only 20% received full accreditation. Following the announcement of the test results, Criminal Lawyers' Association President Paul Burstein said, "The dismal results of these proficiency tests risk bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. In a very real sense, if a person cannot understand the proceedings because of inadequate interpreting, they cannot have a fair trial."
From "Canadian Courts Suffer from Interpreter Shortages"
GantDaily (PA) (11/08/10)
Source: ATA Newsbriefs - November 2010