What is We Speak?
I Want to Sign Up for We Speak
We Speak Utilization Report
Impacts of Language Barriers
Benefits of Professional Interpretation
Testimonials: In Their Own Words
Registered Partners in All Sectors
We Speak in the Media
I am Already Registered for 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 any service provider 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.

For More Info or To Sign Up:

To find out more information or to register, please click here and fill out the contact form.

Or call:
1-866-4-WE-SPEAK (1-866-493-7732)

If you have an account and would like to access services:

To learn more, check out the following video:

We Speak Report

Language Access Initiative Utilization Report April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021

We Speak was launched in southwestern Ontario in early 2020. The timing of this initiative was fitting as community priorities shifted significantly and the need to overcome language barriers became paramount. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent pressures on health care, including long-term care, as well as agri-food, shone a spotlight on the gaps in resources and accelerated the rate at which We Speak was adopted and used in the community. Beyond primary care needs, there were now questions and concerns around COVID-19, the need to communicate everchanging public health information, newly-opened testing centres and teams of contact tracers, and large groups of at-risk populations who required increased testing, tracing, and treatment.

To respond to the immediate needs of the community, and to gain a better understanding of the utilization of language access services, Ontario Health (West) offered one-time funding to primary care providers in Erie St. Clair to use We Speak until March 31, 2021.

This report is a snapshot of We Speak usage as a result of this funding. What you will see is the broad application the We Speak Language Access Initiative offers health care professionals and their patients, and a testament to the need for consistent language supports in health care in more than just a handful of common languages.


Impacts of Language Barriers

  • Limited ability to provide informed consent
  • Barrier to service and/or medical comprehension
  • Limited access to services
  • Inappropriate and unnecessary testing or referrals
  • Mis-assessments and misdiagnoses
  • Inappropriate treatment or service pathway
  • Poor management of acute and chronic conditions
  • Poor management of service pathways
  • 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 plans
  • Lack of clarify about assessment results and service pathways
  • Longer wait times and increased duplication of care
  • Less optimal palliative care
  • Poor patient/client experience
  • Increased stress for client and provider

Benefits of Professional Interpretation

  • Reduced reliance on Emergency Department as point of primary care
  • Improved client and patient-centered care
  • Increased uptake in services
  • Increased patient and client satisfaction
  • Reduced clinical errors
  • Reduced intake errors
  • Increased understanding and support of informed consent
  • Shortened visit times
  • Reduced stress for provider and support staff
  • Eliminate unnecessary extra workload
  • Eliminate unnecessary testing and referrals where patient-history suffices
  • Enhanced patient safety
  • Decreased hospital admissions and readmissions
  • Reduced rate of significant interpretation errors
  • Reduced risk of medical malpractice
  • Reduced stress on client family and friends to provide interpretation
  • Increased ability of clients to attend appointments
  • Improved attendance and client satisfaction

Testimonials: In Their Own Words

Listen to testimony of residents of Essex County as they share their experience using We Speak:

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

Registered Partners in All Sectors


  • Canadian Mental Health Association – Windsor-Essex County
  • Community Support Centre of Essex County
  • Erie Shores HealthCare
  • Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
  • 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
  • TeaMWork Project
  • UHC – Hub of Opportunities
  • VON Immigrant Health Clinic
  • Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
  • Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
  • Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre
  • Windsor-Essex Hospice
  • Windsor Family Health Team
  • Windsor Regional Hospital
  • Workforce WindsorEssex
  • YMCA of Southwestern Ontario


  • Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres
  • Chatham-Kent Hospice
  • Chatham-Kent Ontario Health Team
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • TeaMWork Project
  • Thamesview Family Health Team
  • Chatham-Kent Health Alliance


  • North Lambton Community Health Centre
  • TeaMWork Project


  • Ronald McDonald House London


  • Southwestern Public Health


  • Huron Perth Public Health

Niagara Region

  • Niagara Ontario Health Team

Through the We Speak Initiative, there are no monthly fees.

Registrants only pay for the services used.

To sign up for We Speak now, please fill out the following form:

Or call:
1-866-4-WE-SPEAK (1-866-493-7732).

Any additional questions can be directed to:

If you have an account and would like to access services: www.riocall.ca/wespeak

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:


Rio Mix: Remote Interpretation Ontario’s Multilingual Information eXchange (log in as “guest”)

A collaborative, centralized and accessible repository of translated materials and multilingual websites relating to health and community care and support.

Frequently Asked Questions

FR- Frequently Asked Questions

We Speak Poster

Language Interpreter Services Program

The Language Interpreter Services (LIS) program of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration provides funding for interpreter services to enable service providers to communicate with their clients who have limited English or French language skills, or are deaf, oral deaf, deafened or hard of hearing, who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, as well as those who have been exploited through human trafficking. Language Interpreter Services are provided without cost to eligible service providers.

We Speak Success Stories

I am Already Registered for We Speak

If you have an account and would like to access services:

We Speak Initiative Task Group Members: