QUEBEC CITY – With Canada experiencing an extreme shortage of children’s Tylenol owing to a lack of mandatory bilingual packaging, French language activists announced they would be willing to accept Canada’s importation of American children’s Tylenol with English-only packaging on the condition that children are first able to correctly read out the temperature of their fever in French.
“Keeping children out of the hospital is important, but not as important as preserving the French cultural identity,” says French language activist Luc Belanger, referring to the record numbers of children in the ICU due to a lack of children’s Tylenol with dual English/French packaging, which is the only kind that can legally be sold in the country.
While Canadian parents and the Canadian government have both welcomed the generous concession from Canada’s French language activists, the new program has not been without its bumps.
“Cent…quatre…point…sept?” utters six-year-old BC boy Noah Weber, drifting in and out of consciousness, as a representative from Heritage Canada observes on Zoom.
“Can I please give him the children’s Tylenol from the English-only packaging now? He’s burning up,” asks Noah’s mother Diane, holding a padlocked case of government-issued American children’s Tylenol.
“Hmmm, a common mistake,” admonishes the Heritage Canada employee on the screen. “You see in French, we actually format numbers with a comma, pronounced, virgule, in the place of the decimal pointe, with the exception of currency, which…” continued the Heritage Canada employee before being hung up on in order for Noah’s mother to dial 9-11.
On the other side of the country, more families experienced similar difficulties.
“Soixante…trente…neuf?” gently whispers 8-year-old Ottawa girl Ellie Fishleigh, weakly lifting her head from her sweat stained pillow to read out the thermometer for her father and a panel of Heritage Canada bureaucrats patched in by Telehealth Ontario.
“I’m afraid that’s wrong,” corrects an accented voice on the phone. “The sixty, soixante is only used to count up to 79, soixante-dix-neuf, which translates to sixty, ten, nine in English. Ninety-nine is quatre-vingt-dix-neuf, which is like saying four twenties, ten, nine. It’s quite simple really. Please try again tomorrow.”
“Also, we see here that your daughter’s ninth birthday is coming up,” adds another voice. “Please be advised that thereafter she will have to begin answering in a full sentence using the correct verb tense.”
At press time, the Canadian government announced despite the program, they were again experiencing a shortage of children’s Tylenol after a tractor-trailer of more than 6 million English-only boxes being imported from the United States was turned around at the border after the truck driver did not offer the correct bilingual greeting.