Position Statement on the Active Offer of French Language Health Services

The Regroupement des Entités de planification des services de santé en français de l’Ontario and the Alliance des Réseaux ontariens de santé en français published a Joint Position Statement on the Active Offer of French Language Health Services in Ontario. This short document, which is only three pages long, summarizes finely sum up the issue of active offer in the critical sector that is health care. In their own words: “This position statement establishes the relevance of active offer, provides a definition adapted to health services for Ontario’s Francophones and identifies the roles and responsibilities of several key actors in its implementation.”

I am delighted by this position statement. Since the beginning of my mandate, I made the principle of active offer one of my most important targets. Without active offer, particularly in the health sector, there cannot be a real understanding of the needs of the Francophone community, nor of its existence.

As I wrote in my 2013-2014 annual report: “…the current situation does not create an environment conducive to reaching those who are still hesitant to use services in French on a daily basis, nor to helping avert the constant threat of assimilation.

The Commissioner believes that many breaches of the Act could have been avoided with a decidedly active provision of services in French. And those breaches could sometimes have dramatic consequences, as in the fields of health care and access to justice. Having failed to obtain a satisfactory outcome, the Commissioner will once again have to revisit this critical issue.

As specified in this position statement :

Active offer of health services in French is the regular and permanent offer of services to the Francophone population. Active offer of services:

  • respects the principle of equity;
  • aims for service quality comparable to that provided in English;
  • is linguistically and culturally appropriate to the needs and priorities of  Francophones;
  • is inherent in the quality of the services provided to people (patients, residents, clients) and an important contributing factor to their safety.

It is the result of a rigorous and innovative process for planning and delivering services in French across the entire health care continuum.

It depends on accountability at several levels and requires partners to exercise appropriate leadership with respect to health services in French.

In concrete terms, it takes the form of a range of health services available in French and offered proactively, that is, services are clearly announced, visible and easily accessible at all times.

It is also indicated in a section on the implementation of this statement on active offer that:

Implementation of active offer of French language health services requires an appropriation of responsibility at several levels:

 The system (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, LHINs) that designs the policies and programs, sets the rules, allocates resources, retains providers’ services and holds them accountable;

  • The organizations that provide the services;
  • The professionals who work with patients, residents and clients;
  • And the individuals who use health services.

 Careful planning of active offer at each of these levels is necessary to ensure effective implementation and optimal conditions for Francophone patients.

I intend to come back to this issue again, during the course of the next year. In the meantime, I can only congratulate the authors of this statement for its clarity, brevity and its desire to convince the relevant stakeholders of the validity of this statement. I offer them my full collaboration to ensure its full implementation.

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