A very effective tool for improving the active offer of French-language health services

Shortly after it launched on April 5, 2018, the Réseau du mieux-être francophone du Nord de l’Ontario challenged me to spend a few hours taking its interactive online training course on the active offer of French-language health care services. I’ve just completed the course, and I’m now the proud owner of a certificate attesting to its successful completion.

In my opinion, it is truly top-notch. It’s worth noting that its six modules were inspired by the priorities established by the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario in our May 2016 special report entitled Active Offer of Services in French: The Cornerstone for Achieving the Objectives of Ontario’s French Language Services Act. The topics covered in the course were selected by other organizations, including Northern Ontario health service providers, the Laurentian chapter of the Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS) and its students, the French Language Health Planning Entities of Ontario, and the French Language Health Networks of Ontario.

At the same time, I have to admit that I learned some things, one more reason to vouch for its quality. In addition, the Réseau du mieux-être francophone also promised that the platform and the content will be updated and enhanced regularly.

The course is designed to explain the concept of active offer to people who are working or studying in the health care field in Ontario. Its aim is to make people aware of the important role they can play in ensuring ongoing improvement of active offer.

I’d like to take this opportunity to provide a brief review of the concept of active offer. Franco-Ontarians do not always ask for service in French. To save time, out of habit, to facilitate the process or in emergencies, Francophones and Francophiles sometimes simply accept being served in English. By failing to actively offer services in French, service providers, particularly in the justice and health care systems, place the responsibility for understanding the information communicated on the shoulders of the users of the services and their caregivers. Francophones in vulnerable situations are the people most seriously affected by this deficiency. Although the French Language Services Act does not expressly mention Francophones’ right to actively obtain services in their language, some organizations have made active offer the norm in delivering services. However, without an express reference to this obligation in the Act, progress on active offer may be difficult and slow.

So, I salute this brilliant initiative funded by Health Canada in connection with the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities. The online course, which is free, open to everyone and available in English and French, focuses on the concept of active offer, which is so important for Francophones, and provides examples of best and innovative practices.

Now it’s my turn: I challenge everyone working in the health care field in Ontario and, of course, all health care service providers to take this course. I obviously include all of my staff in this challenge, and I hope that everyone in the office will earn their certificate in the next few weeks! Rev up your computers!

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