We Speak

We Speak – Achieving equity through interpretation

Language barriers have a major impact on both the quality and costs of support services. Research indicates that people who have limited English proficiency may be excluded from or experience delays or denials in receiving services.

In response to this, health, social service and government partners have come together to develop We Speak, a language access initiative giving providers the ability to gain access to scheduled or on demand professional interpretation services in-person, by phone or video.

As part of developing this initiative, partners formed a temporary task group focused on effectively addressing language barriers for clients.

To register for We Speak now, please call: 1-866-4-WE-SPEAK (1-866-493-7732).

Any additional questions can be directed to: oh-west_wespeak@ontariohealth.ca

To learn more, check out the following video:


• Limited ability to provide informed consent
• Barrier to medical comprehension
• Limited access to health services, physician, and hospital care
• Inappropriate and unnecessary medical testing
• Misdiagnosis
• Inappropriate treatment
• Poor management of acute and chronic conditions
• Increased risk of adverse medication reaction
• Increased risk of hospitalization
• Lower levels of service usage
• Poor attendance at follow-up visits
• Lack of clarity about the diagnosis and treatment plan
• Longer wait times and increased duplication of care
• Less optimal palliative care



• Reduced reliance on Emergency Department as point of primary care
• Improved patient-centered care
• Increased uptake in preventative services
• Increased patient satisfaction
• Reduced clinical errors
• Increased patient understanding and support of informed consent
• Shortened patient visit time
• Reduced stress for physicians and support staff
• Eliminate unnecessary extra workload
• Eliminate unnecessary testing where patient-history suffices
• Enhanced patient safety
• Decreased hospital admissions and readmissions
• Reduced rate of clinically significant interpretation errors
• Reduced risk of medical malpractice



Registered Partners


  • Canadian Mental Health Association – Windsor-Essex County
  • Community Support Centre of Essex County
  • Erie Shores HealthCare
  • Harrow Health Centre Family Health Team
  • Home and Community Care Support Services Erie St. Clair
  • Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare
  • Lakeshore Community Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic
  • Leamington and Area Family Health Team
  • South Essex Community Council
  • VON Immigrant Health Clinic
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre
  • Windsor Family Health Team
  • Windsor Regional Hospital


  • Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Thamesview Family Health Team
  • Chatham-Kent Health Alliance


  • North Lambton Community Health Centre


  • Ronald McDonald House London


  • Southwestern Public Health


  • Huron Perth Public Health


Providers who register are part of a group purchase plan, allowing them to access services at a highly discounted rate based on the group’s usage. There are no monthly fees. Registrants only pay for the services used.

To register for We Speak now, please call: 1-866-4-WE-SPEAK (1-866-493-7732).

Any additional questions can be directed to: oh-west_wespeak@ontariohealth.ca


WE SPEAK in the media

“New ‘We Speak’ Program to assist with language barriers when it comes to health care access,” CTV News, March 1, 2021

“L’initiative We Speak élimine les barrières linguistiques,” Le Rempart, 4 mars, 2021

“Hugo Vega, Regional Manager of Settlement and Integration Services, YMCA of Southwestern Ontario and Windsor Learning Centre,” AM800, March 2, 2021

• See We Speak in action at a Spanish and English language information session for Migrant and Temporary Foreign Agricultural Workers:


Additional Resources


During complex times We Speak has provided our service the ability to effectively communicate with clients where English was not their first language. In the past, language barriers created a large challenge during health assessments and hindered our ability to appropriately meet clients’ needs in a timely manner. The translators are professional, easy to understand, patient, and very supportive.

      • Stacey Shepley     Captain, Professional Standards,     Essex-Windsor EMS

I was just introduced to We Speak virtual translation application and was incredibly impressed! The translator was professional, their interpretation of health conditions was accurate and the tool was incredibly easy to use. As the Executive Director of a Family Health Team, I feel We Speak provides reassurance to clinicians that they are understanding of the patients’ health needs and providing them with comprehensive healthcare despite language barriers.

      •  Margo Reilly     Executive Director,     Harrow Health Centre

As a healthcare service, it is essential that individuals have information that is easy to understand and accessible. The ability to provide our services in the language most comfortable for our clients is critical to this goal. The We Speak video and on-demand interpretation options have allowed us to meet our clients needs when, and how they need them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

      •  Theresa Marentette    Chief Executive Officer, Chief Nursing Officer,    Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

The connection to the We Speak program is easily obtained once the iPad is connected to Wi-Fi. If I am unable to obtain video interpretation after three to five rings, it is easy to switch to the audio version and get connected quickly… Both the screening nurse and I have been able to simultaneously use different stations to initiate and complete our encounters and have not experienced any loss of service during our visit with the patients. Our patients appear to be happy to have this service after the visit.

      • Geraldine Toms, Nurse Practitioner, Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres

I usually attend medical appointments with a friend who interprets for me. I can’t always rely on friends or family to be available, and I feel like a burden on them when I ask them to come with me. I really liked having a professional interpreter that I did not have to search for or inconvenience.

      • Patient Feedback after being offered We Speak Interpretation for the first time




Task group members included:

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