Transforming Ontario’s health care system: an opportunity to improve access to French language services

Ottawa, February 14, 2019 – The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is optimistic about the Government of Ontario’s decision to undertake structural reform of the health care system because it provides an opportunity to improve access to French language services.

Information obtained by the AFO leads the organization to believe that the Government of Ontario intends to respect the principle that Francophone citizens have the right to receive French language health care services. The AFO shared its position and its ideas with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Christine Elliot, in a letter that was made public this morning.

“Health care services in French are not a question of identity advocacy. Above all, it’s a question of equality, quality and safety of care for Francophone patients,” said AFO President Carol Jolin.

In its letter, the AFO put forward five ideas that reflect the government’s goal to improve the quality, security and efficiency of the health care system.

– Clarify in legal terms the mandate and the community governance of the Entities as equal partners with provincial, regional and local decision-making bodies, thereby making French language services more efficient. The healthcare system will gain from a legal framework for collaboration between the Entities and the Super Agency, the MyCare groups as well as regional institutions – as the latter two organizations are responsible for service delivery in the field. The Entities’ potential goes beyond consultation. They have proven themselves to be very efficient in their role.

– The Government of Ontario has the opportunity to uphold its commitment to preserving the gains made by Francophones in health care by ensuring that organizations that provide French language services and are designated, or in the process of designation, will maintain their designation or continue to move forward in the designation process.

– The digital shift presents huge opportunities for Francophones, because they often live in non-designated or isolated regions without access to the French language health care services or the specialized services they need. The AFO believes that the MHLTC and the MyCare groups, who would be responsible for digitizing, should support and fund innovative service delivery models, such as Telehealth.

– The MHLTC has the opportunity to ensure that the super agency will include the Francophone perspective by naming two Francophone members to its board.

– The Government of Ontario has the opportunity to continue its partnership with the AFO, which is invited to recommend two persons to be appointed to the French Language Health Services Advisory Council

The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) is the umbrella organisation and the political voice of Ontario’s Francophone community. Its mandate is to assist the Francophone community across the province in working together and to provide community representation, in particular to advocate for the rights of Ontario’s 744,000 Franco-Ontarian citizens.