Back in the late 1980's, I worked for a federal M.P. in Ottawa. I was the lone Newfoundland native on the staff. More often, than not, I was the go to guy when the staff could not decipher the thick accent on the other end of the line.
To this day, I pride myself on being able to tell where a person is from based on their accent. No doubt, some of the accents along the South coast can be tricky to understand. In a political office, you have time to work through the problem and make sense of it all, but what if the call was about life and death, one's ability to understand local dialects might be critical.
Eastern Health may be outsourcing it's poison control hotline!
Is it a big deal to have a phone service outsourced? Will client services be affected?
The first thing that came to my mind is how can the province condemn the transfer of coast guard radio services to Halifax from St. John's if they support outsourcing health information lines to other jurisdictions?
The service provides advice on how to deal with concerns about children who might have been poisoned or taken too much of a prescription drug.
I know, you might be thinking I am off my rocker, grasping at straws to be critical of Eastern Health or the provincial government.
One of the arguments made by those who lobbied to keep the coast guard services in St. Johns was local knowledge. Most importantly, locals understand local accents, jargon and names. Imagine an operator on the mainland trying to maneuver through the dropped H's, the fast panicked vanacular of a spooked parent. The operator might as well be dealing with a call from a foreign nation.
I for one am not convinced that a 1-800 line staffed by mainlanders is going to an efficient solution for panicked parents in this province.