French Language Health Services

What is important about French Language Health Services?

Francophones in our LHINThe French Language Services Act, Ontario, 1986, recognizes the contribution of the French speaking population to the historical, cultural and linguistic heritage of Ontario. The Act guarantees the right of French speaking Ontarians to communicate with the government and receive services in French.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and now LHINs, are required to provide French speaking residents with reasonable access to health services in their own language. Across Ontario, there are 25 designated areas for French language services. In the HNHB LHIN, these include the city of Hamilton, and the cities of Welland and Port Colborne in Niagara.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is committed to improving access to high quality French Language Health Services across the province. The passage of the Patients First Act, 2016 provided a solid framework for renewed partnership, and brings increased focus on enhancing equity, cultural and linguistic sensitivity, the delivery of health care services to Francophones and Indigenous peoples, and strengthening patients’ and families’ voices in their health care planning.

Guide to Requirements and Obligations Pertaining to French Language Health Services

The Guide to FLHS is designed to help strengthen health system performance and accountability, and also support improved reporting on how FLHS are being delivered across the province.

The Guide to FLHS will also help clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of the ministry, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), French Language Health Planning Entities (Entities) and Health Service Providers (HSPs) outlined in current legislative provisions and accountability instruments relating to FLHS. The Guide to FLHS will be a useful tool for informing the leadership of these organizations with regard to their FLHS obligations.

The ministry’s expectation is that the LHINs and Entities work to fulfill the requirements and obligations in the Guide to FLHS. The LHINs are also expected to inform HSPs and contracted service providers of their requirements and obligations and to ensure that these requirements are reflected in respective agreements.

Our Role

LHINs plan and promote French language health services and engage the French speaking community in the process; French speaking residents and stakeholders know their communities best. The goal is the best outcomes for French language health services, acknowledging and respecting diversity within francophone communities. Working together we have learned that:

  • More people want services in French than are asking for them
  • People are not comfortable asking for services in French
  • People do not know what services are available in French and where they are located
  • There is a shortage of French speaking health professionals
  • Programs and services are not tailored to the needs of Francophone communities
  • There is variable commitment among stakeholders to meeting the needs of French speaking people

Did you know?

  • Based on the new Inclusive Definition of Francophones, HNHB LHIN is home to 32,330 Franco-Ontarians (this is 2.4% of the population).
  • Niagara’s francophone population includes a large number of seniors most of whom are Canadian born. In contrast, more than half the Francophones in the Hamilton area are younger and born outside of Canada.
  • The HNHB LHIN funds 62 organizations that have been identified as playing a role in improving access and health outcomes for francophone people.

What strategies are we proposing?

  • Welcoming Environments
    Culturally welcoming and people-focused environments provide appropriate supports and care, or links to care, in French
  • Every door leads to services in French
    No matter where a French speaking person comes for care, the person is linked with services in French
  • A Network of French Language Service Providers
    There are a limited number of French language service providers. A virtual network of health and related providers enhances relationships and knowledge for patient referrals, strengthens the professional community and attracts French language providers to the LHIN
  • A Report Card
    • Programs and services deemed priorities by francophone communities are available in French
    • Access to French language health services is improved
    • Francophone people are satisfied with French language health services
    • Communities are supportive of French language health services
    • French speaking communities are integrated into planning and decision making

We are currently working with the French Language Health Planning Entity to improve access to French language health services for the LHIN's francophone population.