Court Accreditation in BC and Ontario

Ministry of Attorney General (of BC)

The Ministry does not conduct certification exams. Instead, it formally recognizes or “accredits” an interpreter based on the following interpretation credentials:

  • graduation from Court Interpreting Certificate Program of Vancouver Community College (VCC);
  • certification as a Court Interpreter by the STIBC;
  • certification as a Court Interpreter by a society belonging to the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC);
  • certificate of Interpretation from the Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada (AVLIC);
  • and certification as a Sign Language Interpreter by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

In addition,

  • accredited applicants submit a copy of an accreditation certificate and
  • non- accredited applicants provide two references who can attest to the education and experience they documented on the form
  • all applicants must provide Criminal Records Review receipt

*** Concerning the recent cancelation of the VCC program ***

We have been told that the MAG is "quite happy with the VCC program" and consequently, we expect that they will continue to recognize the VCC certificate for accreitation purposes.

The Ministry has more than two hundred interpreters on contract to provide services.The Court Services Branch (“CSB”) provides spoken language interpreters for criminal cases in the Provincial and Supreme Court; family cases, traffic and municipal bylaw cases in Provincial Court and, upon court, order, in any court.

CSB also provides visual language interpreters, which include sign language interpreters and real-time captioners, for every type of court proceeding, including the Supreme Court and Small Claims cases

Court registries are required by policy to retain the most qualified interpreter available. Policy directs that interpreter clerks first seek out a contracted, accredited interpreter. Occasionally a Court Interpreter Clerk has to retain services from a non-accredited interpreter. Typically this is when the required language is a language of lesser diffusion.

In such cases they are directed to seek an accredited interpreter through an agency which has a general service agreement with government. When an accredited interpreter cannot be secured, interpreter clerks then seek to retain contracted non-accredited interpreter for service.If no contracted interpreter can be secured, interpreter clerks will look to outside agencies for assistance.

From time to time an Interpreter Clerk will call The Language Bureau Vancouver when they cannot find an interpreter. Since we do no business with the Ministry on an agency basis, we are always happy to oblige.

The fact that a person presents himself to you in private practice as working frequently in court gives no assurance of actual certification. Nominally, non-certified people can be used only if certified interpreters are not available. In practice, the interpreter clerks are forced to settle forwhatever they can get. It essential that you ascertain the qualifications of any interpreter in Court – whether engaged by opposing counsel or appointed by the Court.

In recent years there has been a certain de-professionalizing of the ranks of the court accredited interpreters in BC. Some of the most experienced interpreters have declined to sign the three most recent “contracts” presented by the CSB. This represents a small percentage of the total number of interpreters and does not generally affect the quality of interpreting you can expect from a fully accredited interpreter at trial. However, you should always question your interpreter’s credentials immediately he or she is sworn in.

Working for the criminal court system is an essential extension to the training provided in BC and it gives our people some of the experience necessary to perform to the standard required in private practice.

Ministry of Attorney General (of Ontario)

The Ministry has a small number of interpreters on staff but relies heavily on freelance workers. Many of the staff interpreters are quite good but seem to be not generally available for private engagements.

[more content to come in October]