Parliament spaces out microphones after another interpreter is injured

OTTAWA — The federal government is being forced to adjust the setup in the House of Commons and committee rooms after another language interpreter suffered a significant hearing injury.

The Canadian Association of Professional Employees says the injured employee has been off work for weeks, and it blames both this incident and other injuries on inadequate equipment on Parliament Hill.

The latest incident involved the Larsen effect, which occurs when a microphone and an earpiece get too close, resulting in a sharp, sudden feedback that can be loud or frequent enough to permanently injure someone.

A federal regulator last week ordered changes to how meeting spaces are set up to prevent it from happening again.

House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus notified MPs this morning that tables in committee rooms were rearranged to keep microphones and earpieces farther apart.

Last year, a regulator found Ottawa was breaking labour laws by not adequately protecting interpreters, following an October 2022 incident where a parliamentary interpreter was sent to the hospital in an ambulance after experiencing acoustic shock during a Senate committee meeting.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2024.

The Canadian Press A language interpreter is seen working in an interpretation booth during a news conference in Ottawa on October 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang −−>