AFO Presents Its White Paper in Health: A Promising Document

This blog post is brought to you by our guest blogger Alison Stewart, who is one of my three Project Managers as well as responsible for community liaison. This is her summary of the conference which took place in Sudbury last week of October.

For anyone questioning the importance of bilingual signage as being an integral part to the active offer, arriving in Sudbury is a successful showpiece for such a concept. In 2001, the City of Greater Sudbury adopted a French Language Services policy, giving the citizens of Sudbury the choice of communicating with their municipality in French or English. With almost 30% of the population made up of Francophones, it makes good sense for businesses to promote themselves in both languages. All that to say that it was a constant visual reminder that one can begin a conversation with “Bonjour/Hello” and that you will likely be responded to with “Comment est-ce que je peux vous aider?” or “I’m afraid I don’t speak French, but how can I help?”

The Annual AFO* conference kicked off with a debate asking the panel if there is still a need for community media addressing Ontario’s Francophone population. After a word from minister Meilleur, Commissioner Boileau kicked off the debate with a discourse about the importance of media in the construction of identity of individuals and the Francophone community. It was an interesting debate, despite the fact that all five panelists were in complete agreement with each other; and consequently, not a debate at all, but rather a lively conversation among leaders in French media in Ontario. It served as a good reminder to the participants of why we were all there, committed to spending two and a half sunny days in Sudbury: to discuss, among Francophone friends and colleagues, the challenges, needs and successes of the Francophone community.

Aside from the social networking, interactive workshops, the Gala on Friday night, and the AGA on Saturday morning, the most important event at the conference was the launch of the Assemblée’s White Paper* in Health, which outlines the pillars of delivering quality  French healthcare in Ontario. This document does an excellent job of summarizing the key issues that affect Francophones in healthcare , and includes recommendations that the Commissioner’s Office is all too familiar with:

  1. The need for linguistic identity to be attributed to health cards for better planning and identification
  2. To collaborate with Francophone stakeholders throughout the planning stage, especially at the beginning (and the need to outline roles,  responsibilities and obligations of the service providers)
  3. The need to protect existing Francophone institutions, beginning with the renewal of the six planning Entities’ mandate
  4. Take advantage of the changing landscape of health care delivery by improving the delivery of primary and community care to Francophones
  5. The need for a comprehensive plan in human resources that would promote the importance and need  for bilingual healthcare workers, without which the active offer of service in French will not exist

Despite the challenges of living in a linguistic minority, the AFO has set its sights on delivering a culturally diverse and engaging calendar of events for 2015, commemorating the 400th year of Ontario’s Francophone community.  There is a lot to celebrate!

*available in French only

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