Active offer

What is the active offer?
From the point of view of a service provider, active offer is an open invitation to the public to use one of the official languages-English or French-to communicate and receive service. The active offer includes a bilingual greeting, such as “Hello! Bonjour!”, and visual cues, such as signs, that support this invitation.
Specifically, this means that as a provider, we allow patients to express themselves and be served in the official language with which they are most comfortable.

The active offer of health services in French is a regular and ongoing offer to the Francophone population.

This service offer :

  • Respects the principle of fairness ;
  • Aims for a quality of service comparable to what is offered in English;
  • Is linguistically and culturally appropriate to the needs and priorities of Francophones;
  • Is inherent to the quality of services provided to people (patients, residents, beneficiaries) and an important factor that contributes to their safety.
It is the result of a rigorous and innovative process of planning and delivering services in French across the health care continuum.

It requires accountability at several levels and requires partners to exercise their leadership in French-language health services.

In concrete terms, it means a set of health services available in French and offered in a proactive manner, i.e., they are clearly advertised, visible and easily accessible at all times.

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Joint position statement on the active offer of French-language health services in Ontario by the Regroupement des Entités de planification des services de santé en français de l’Ontario and Alliance des Réseaux Ontariens de santé en français.
Why is the active offer important?
“Active offer is essential if we want to ensure safe, ethical and high-quality health services for our Francophone minority communities. Active offer makes it possible to ensure that French-language health services are easily accessible, visible, without delay and of equal quality to those offered to the majority. The historical lack of French-language health services creates a sense that they are not available. Everyone, decision-makers and health professionals alike, must be proactive in offering services in the official language of the patient. Find out here what active offer is and some concrete ways to make a successful active offer.
Why French-language health services?
Ontario’s Francophone population is 622,415 (according to the 2016 Canadian Census), which represents 4.7% of Ontarians. Approximately 1.5 million Ontarians speak English and French. Francophones and Francophiles therefore represent 11% of the province’s total population.

The inclusive definition of Francophones (FID), adopted in 2009, includes those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, but who have a specific knowledge of French as an official language and who use French at home, including many recent immigrants to Canada.

Legal and governmental expectations
The French Language Services Act, 1990 (FLSA) guarantees a person’s right to receive services in French from Government of Ontario ministries and agencies that provide services on his or her behalf in the 26 designated areas.
The Population Health Care Act of 2019 states that health service providers (HSPs) must comply with the obligations of the FLSA.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has strengthened the role of all FSS to increase the capacity to provide health services in French and to meet the needs of a local Francophone community. The Department of Health expects agencies to develop and implement a French Language Services Plan (FLS) that describes how they will meet the needs of their local Francophone community.

The plan should include mechanisms and procedures based on the active offer concept. It should also collect EFS data such as the identification of Francophones and health services available in French in their geographic area or sufficiently close to it.

Negative impact of language barriers
Ontario’s public health standards recognize that language and culture are determinants of health.

“There is compelling evidence that language barriers have negative impacts on access to health services. Patients face significant barriers to accessing promotion and prevention programs. Various studies also indicate that they face significant barriers to first contact with health services in a number of situations. Although the number of studies devoted to this issue in Canada is limited, their findings are consistent with those of studies in other countries.”

Positive impact of offering health services in French
It allows French-speaking patients to ask for help, describe their symptoms and conditions, express their needs and preferences, and take charge of their own health.

Health professionals who can communicate in French can convey essential health information, encourage clients to seek care and promote rehabilitation, and build relationships to maintain long-term health.

Health care providers who offer health care in French contribute to improved accessibility, efficiency and effective use of health care services, safe and healthy outcomes. This will result in greater patient satisfaction.

Implementation of the active offer
Active offer requires stakeholders to collaborate and share responsibility together.

Active offer requires the participation of decision makers, health service providers, health professionals and the Francophone community.

Some of the elements for implementing an active offer of services in French are as follows

  • Use of “Hello-Bonjour” in greetings (in person and by phone).
  • Bilingual voice message in place.
  • Bilingual display in place for patients.
  • Francophone professionals who wear “je parle français” labels.
  • Bilingual business cards are available for French speaking staff.
  • Translation of certain documents.
In short, active offer meets both a legal requirement and the demographic growth of Francophones. In the last census in 2016, there were 622,415 Francophones in Ontario. According to projections by the Office of the Commissioner of French Language Services, by 2028 the number of Francophones in Ontario could rise to 647,000 or even 660,000. In the Central region, the increase in the number of Francophones could be about 6,000, mostly due to immigration.
Useful resource

Online training

Online training on active offer offered by Le Réseau du mieux-être francophone du nord de l’Ontario.


1 Yonge Street, 3014
Toronto, ON M5E 1E5


L – F: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm




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