Montreal's French-language superhospital says it's looking into a complaint by a patient who says a reputed urologist rebuffed him because he wanted to be served in English.
Zbigniew Malysa, a 67-year-old Polish man who has lived in Canada for more than 30 years, alleged in several interviews the doctor, Luc Valiquette, made offensive remarks about his ethnic origin and his difficulties in expressing himself in French.
The doctor then allegedly tore up and threw out a colonoscopy form that was intended for the patient.
Although Malysa speaks and understands French, he said wanted discussions about his medical care to be conducted in English.
Valiquette said the situation had arisen from a misunderstanding and that he'd be in touch with Malysa.
Management at the French hospital, known as the CHUM, said a review of Malysa's complaint is underway.
The hospital also noted that while it strives to serve patients in their mother tongue, it is not on the list of public institutions required to offer all its services in English.
Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said the situation, if Malysa's version of events is true, "is totally unacceptable."
"It's reprehensible, it's beyond understanding and it's a deep lack of judgment — if it all happened that way," Barrette said as he attended an event in Montreal.
Kathleen Weil, the cabinet minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, tweeted that the government "cannot comment further at this time."
"We will continue to follow the case closely," she said. "If the allegations are confirmed, the entire situation is unacceptable."