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2014 03 27
NDP sends complaint to Official Languages Commissioner
Francophone soldiers deployed in Afghanistan had no access to psychological services in French

In response to reports that French-speaking soldiers in Afghanistan did not have access to psychological support in their own language, the NDP has decided to lodge a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages.

 “Psychological support is a critical requirement for missions. Our soldiers face incredible stress and receiving assistance in their own language is essential to preventing PTSD. Respecting our official languages is not a choice – it’s the law!” said NDP deputy critic for National Defense, Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier).

According to a Radio-Canada report, the Canadian Army did not have an on-site psychologist in Afghanistan, who would normally be responsible for debriefing soldiers when critical incidents occur – an essential step in treating operational stress.

“Our soldiers had to turn to the Americans for help. As a result, French-speakers were unable to consult with a psychologist in their own language,” said NDP Official Languages critic, Yvon Godin. “Men and women who serve their country deserve respect and to receive services from their government, not further obstacles. This is just shameful.” 

The NDP intends to follow developments in this file closely and to use the Official Languages Act to ensure that the rights of French-speaking soldiers are respected.

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Thomas Mulcair