Translate from:

    Translate to:

Ontario court interpreters failing tests

The use of interpreters in Ontario courtrooms could become a serious issue after about 40 per cent in the first group failed the new proficiency tests.

Ontario is testing all of its accredited interpreters.

The first group to take the tests didn’t fare well as only 46 passed, 69 were given conditional credentials and 77 failed. About 600 interpreters are still to be tested.

The results mean that in the Greater Toronto Area, for example, right now there is only one fully accredited Mandarin interpreter and one fully accredited Tamil language interpreter.

Selahedin Abubaker is one of the interpreters who failed. But he has been a court translator for more than 20 years, working on cases all over Ontario.

Abubaker says he is fluent in two languages spoken in Ethiopia, but as of this week the Ministry of the Attorney General says he’s no longer qualified.

No complaints

Abubaker says that over the past two decades he has never had a complaint about his work from “the justices of the peace, the judges, the clients.”

He says his exam was too academic and didn’t take into account the nuances of the languages he interprets.

“The speed and the pause of our language” are extremely important, he said, “and that doesn’t reflect what the test is all about.”

Stella Rahman, president of the Court Interpreters Association of Ontario, says the organization offered to work with the ministry to upgrade skills or train interpreters, but the ministry refused.

Courtroom co-ordinators have told Rahman they now have strict instructions to use interpreters from the accredited list first, then those with conditional credentials.

Rahman worries that some of those on the list have little court experience.

“Although the interpreter has passed the test, he or she is not competent to handle high-profile cases like murder trials,” she said. “But [the court co-ordinator’s] hands are tied. He has to call on that interpreter.”

Bev Dowd, a Spanish interpreter who passed her test, says the fallout may be felt in the Ontario legal system for years to come.

Chaos predicted

“Lawyers are saying, ‘Maybe I’ll go back and say that wasn’t a good interpreter, the whole decision should be overturned.’ So it’s going to just create chaos,” said Dowd.

Some lawyers say there aren’t enough qualified interpreters.

Gary Anandasangaree, who represents many clients whose first language is Tamil, said the ministry’s decision could put a barrier between “people who are effectively the accused and the system.”

In a statement sent to CBC News, the ministry said it is recruiting new interpreters to help fill holes. And it defended the examinations.

“The new tests are specific to courts and are based on actual court documents and trial transcripts from Ontario court proceedings,” the ministry said.

“This approach ensures the tests match a realistic court interpreter experience and reflect the high level of skill and specialized terminology required for court interpretation.”

Contact Us

Toll Free: 1844DATTLAW (1-844-328-8529)

295 Matheson Blvd. East
Mississauga, Ontario
L4Z 1X8
map it
Singer Squad
Singer Squad
02:40 14 Sep 19
Aswani is truly a professional lawyer, he is always honest to his clients, he is very nice and friendly, i would strongly recommend him as your first choice -- Sincerely Assadread more
Kar Sevak
Kar Sevak
20:34 07 Sep 19
Hard working and honest lawyer. Straight forward. Saved our family and we owe the world to him. Thanks Mr. more
Venugopal Nori
Venugopal Nori
23:32 03 Sep 19
Aswani takes ownership of the case and deals it professionally to give it a meaningful conclusion. He is very reliable. Thanks Aswani Datt understands the situation and gives very good advice. He is very prompt in responding to any questions you might have.He provides expert legal advice. I will highly recommend more
Dan C
Dan C
16:40 15 Aug 19
Very professional and knowledgeable, with an open and friendly attitude. He answered all my many questions patiently and provided valuable advice on a complex matter. Thank you again!read more
Yash Menaria
Yash Menaria
04:42 08 Aug 19
Aswani is professional, thorough, and knowledgeable. I would recommend him highly to anyone seeking legal more
Nathan Forbes
Nathan Forbes
15:23 05 Jul 19
Aswani was introduced through a family friend and I was very pleased with his service. He was able to provide a better outcome then I had initially envisioned. Communication was great throughout the process. He is knowledgeable, professional and delivers. I would highly recommend him as legal more
D Parmar
D Parmar
22:24 23 Jun 19
Aswani is a very professional and knowledgeable lawyer and has handled our case with utmost care and taking care of all minute details. Made us feel comfortable and kept us well informed. Highly recommend his service as a more
IRIS Consulting
IRIS Consulting
16:43 04 May 19
I strongly recommend Aswani to people who need legal consulting. He is extremely competent and familiar with the system. He has handled some complex matters efficiently that I’d give him 5 stars. Keep up the amazing work Aswani. BR/Anandread more
Ryan Wolf
Ryan Wolf
23:24 21 Apr 19
Aswani k. Datt was randomly selected to represent me in a legal matter. He was professional, efficient, kind, caring, accommodating and very patient. He promised a quick and speedy resolve on my matter. He delivered as promise. He is highly recommended, and i want to thank him for everything that he has done for me. He is a brilliant and wonderful lawyer!read more
Sharanbir Khudal
Sharanbir Khudal
23:01 18 Apr 19
An Absolutely intelligent officer of the law, and an even better human being. He makes you feel comfortable and confident in your situation and will find ways to get you to your hopeful results in manners which you will not expect. I recommend him to everyone and anyone who needs legal help, not once, but as many times as necessary. If you’ve run across him for your legal needs, don’t look more
Zulfiqar Shah
Zulfiqar Shah
14:10 10 Apr 19
I am trying to find words to describe our experience with Mr. Aswani, I find myself pondering how to describe him. I find myself lost for words and a short precise description would be Brilliant and Professional Lawyer, Friendly person to deal with and whenever we met him there was always a warm friendly smile telling you to not to worry. Ones walks out with confidence that he has your back. These words are the minimum to describe him, at least from my experience. If for any reason anyone out there needs a Lawyer, I would extremely highly recommend Aswani K more
Ankur Gandhi
Ankur Gandhi
20:40 05 Mar 19
Best lawyer in town. Needed someone to represent me with my divorce case involving a child. He went above and beyond. Trust me you won't go wrong if he's your lawyer. And when he gives you an advise please take it because he's only thinking in best interest of his more
Next Reviews