To ensure consistent and equitable access to City services for all customers, the City of Kitchener has launched on-demand, multi-language interpretation services to support residents accessing City services and information in their language of choice. The new interpretation service now allows for fast and convenient service in more than 200 languages and isavailable24-7 by phone or, in-person during business hours, at City facilities 

“Our community is changing. As our city becomes more and more diverse, there is a growing need for language interpretation services to help residents navigate City services,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic“Having on-demand multi-language interpretation in place means that means our community becomes more welcoming for newcomers, making it easier for everyone can participate, and that everyone can access City programs, services and information they need without worrying about language barriers.  

This new service represents one of the most substantial service experience improvements the City can make for our citizens,” said Ward 7 Councillor, Bil Ioannidis. “All customers should feel supported and empowered to access City services and information in a way that feels comfortable for them. Providing on-demand interpretation really enhances our service delivery to better meet the needs of all of our residents in real-time.” 

For customers accessing the service, the process of connecting to an interpreter is simple. At the customer’s request, staff at City facilities will contact an interpreter by phone. Within just a few minutes an interpreter that speaks the customer’s language will join the call to assist with their inquiry. The customer services representative uses a two-way handset that allows both the customer and the City staff person to hear and actively participate in the conversation 

To date, nearly 500 staff across City services have been trained to use the service in community centres, pools, arenas, cemeteries, bylaw, fire services, and all City Hall service countersThe City intends to expand the service to offer face-to-face interpretation, through a pilot of additional face-to-face video technology in the future. 

The introduction of on-demand multi-language interpretation support was one of 15 recommendations out of the City’s 2018 customer service review, which engaged more than 5,500 staff and citizens on ways the City could improve service delivery. Additionally, implementing an on-demand interpretation service is one of five strategic initiatives identified under the goal of great customer service within the City’s 2018-2022 strategic plan. 

As part of the launch of this new service, signage translated into the most frequently spoken languages for each Kitchener neighbourhood, and other resourcesare in place in City facilities to help connect residents to the new service.  

For more information about the City’s multi-language interpretation service, visit www.kitchener.ca/contact  

-30-