WINDSOR, ONT. -- A new initiative has been developed to help address language barriers when it comes to accessing healthcare.

The program, We Speak, has been developed by a temporary task group “focused on effectively addressing language barriers for clients.” The program offers providers the ability to access scheduled or on-demand interpreting services in-person or by phone and video.

“As a healthcare service, it is critical 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,” Nicole Dupuis, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit health promotion director, said. “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.”

Language barriers contribute to the issue of health equity as people belonging to certain groups may experience disparities in their health status and access to services, a news release from the Windsor-Essex Local Immigration Partnership says.

Research shows those with limited English proficiency may experience barriers to receiving health care services.

Task force group members of We Speak include:

  • The University of Windsor Faculty of Nursing
  • The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit; Windsor Family Health Team
  • Windsor Essex Community Health Centre
  • The Erie St. Clair and South West LHINs
  • The Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership (WE LIP)

The news release says while receiving direct services in the language known to a client remains the “preferred option” when that is not possible using interpretation services is the next best to ensure quality communication.

Providers can register for the service by calling 1-866-4-WE-SPEAK (1-866-493-7732) or visiting