An effective health system generates active supply from health service providers and active supply generates active demand from consumers.
Thanks to provincial laws in Ontario, we have the right, as Francophones, to use the French language in :
- legislative and governmental institutions
- government or para governmental agencies
which are financed by public funds and designated or identified by regulation as providers of services in French (hospitals, children’s aid societies, community-based agencies, homes for the elderly).
Active Demand is informing service providers and health professionals of your wish to receive services in French. It also entails making your right to receive services in the language of your choice known to the central administration of an organization. Thus, choosing the option of French during a call or identifying oneself as French-speaking or French-speaking on registration documents, allows your contact to know your wish to be served in French.
Why request health services in French?
The health system advocates a patient-centered approach. And there are a lot of bilingual resources among health providers, who are just asking to demonstrate their language skills. Active Demand motivates health agencies to recognize that the need for services in French is real. Culture (including language) is one of the 12 recognized determinants of health.
Research has shown that difficulties in communicating effectively with a health care professional *:
- create barriers to access to care;
- affect confidence in the quality of services received;
- decrease the likelihood of adequate follow-up.
In the event of serious illness or delicate situations, the opportunity to be able to express oneself in one’s language is of paramount importance.
Bilingualism is not only having two languages that we could use equally at all times; we must be able to obtain quality care equivalent to services in English.
Effective communication is an essential element of safety and quality of health care.
*Anderson and al, Culturally competent Healthcare System – A systematic review, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2003.
Who can request services in French?
Anyone who wishes can request services in French, even if French is not their mother tongue. This right is not restricted to Francophones whose first language is French. In Ontario, the French Language Services Act gives citizens the right to receive services in French from the provincial government, particularly in designated regions.
In Ontario, an Inclusive Definition of Francophone (IDF) was adopted in 2009. It recognizes people « whose mother tongue is French, plus those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English but have a particular knowledge of French as an Official Language and use French at home ».
Where can we expect to receive services in French?
- Hospital environments
- Community support services
- Mental health and addiction agencies – for children, youth and adults
- Community health centers
- Children’s Aid Societies
- Long-term care homes
- Ontario Disability Assistance Program, etc.
How to request services in French?
- Indicate your preference to receive services in French as soon as possible.
- Request the presence of an interpreter if necessary.
- Encourage and recognize organizations and health professionals who make efforts to offer services in French.
- Give your support if your region or an organization wishes to be designated or identified.
In the event of breaches to the French Language Services Act
When the linguistic rights of Francophones are not respected, when they cannot compromise with the departments and agencies of the designated regions, Francophones have the right to complain. This right applies to anyone in Ontario, whether resident, newly arrived or passing through the province. In general, since laws give people the right to services in French, they also have access to complaint mechanisms when these rights are not respected.
The Ombudsman can receive complaints about more than 1,000 government and public sector organizations from Ontario, on matters concerning children and youth in care, as well as French language services offered in Ontario. The Ombudsman has a French Language Services Commissioner. The Ombudsman’s mandate and investigative powers give its Office responsibility for ensuring that the rights of Ontarians and the obligations of government agencies are respected under the French Language Services Act.