A work in progress
The health care sector is one of the largest government portfolios, and one on which Ontarians rely heavily, so it is not surprising that the Commissioner’s Office sees a significant number of complaints related to health care every year. With that being said, progress has been made in the delivery of French-language services in this sector over the past five years.
The delivery of health care in Ontario is complex.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care does not deliver health care services in and of itself. It oversees the province’s strategic action plan that includes the funding of health services and the dissemination of their policies. The Ministry delegates responsibility for the delivery of health care services to Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).
Also, as a result of a recommendation from the Commissioner’s Special Report on French Language Health Services Planning in Ontario, in May 2009, the addition of six health service Planning Entities were created to engage the Francophone community and provide strategic planning recommendations to the LHINs with regards to the delivery of French-language services. Although this added another layer to the already complex health care service delivery model, it was a necessary step towards the active delivery of French-language services. With the creation of these new Entities, there was a need for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to outline and communicate the roles and responsibilities of both the LHINs and the Entities.
This past year, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care did a great job of doing just that. Managers from the LHINs, the Entities and the Ministry got together in a successful day-long forum in which the Ministry reaffirmed its policies, its expectations and the roles of all parties involved. More important, it was an invaluable opportunity for networking and collaboration between the Entities and the LHINs.
“The Commissioner’s Office began receiving positive feedback in the last quarter of 2013 from Francophone leaders in the health care sector praising the Ministry’s support, which fostered marked improvements in the LHINs’ engagement with the Entities.”
This forum was such a success that follow-ups are necessary. The Commissioner can only hope that it will become a biannual event to ensure ongoing communication and collaboration between the LHINs and Entities, which is important to the delivery of health care services that meet the Francophone community’s needs.