French Language Health Services

Recent FLS Highlights at the Ministry

Commitment to Improving Access to High Quality French Language Health Services:

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.

To highlight the importance of FLS, the Patients First Act includes a requirement “to promote health equity, reduce health disparities and inequities, and respect the diversity of communities and the requirements of the French Language Services Act, in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of services.”

The Minister’s 2017-18 Mandate Letter issued to the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) further outlines the importance of promoting health equity and reducing health disparities. The letter also highlights other key priorities for the LHINs, including assessing the FLS capacity of health service providers within LHIN sub-regions, as well as the extent to which Francophone citizens are provided with an active offer of health services in French, and emphasizes the need for improved planning to strengthen health services in French.

In order to support the implementation of the Patients First Act and improve access to FLS, the ministry will continue to engage and collaborate with key stakeholders and informants, including the French Language Health Services Advisory Council, the French Language Health Planning Entities, the FLS Commissioner, and the Ministry of Francophone Affairs.

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.

Regulatory Changes to support French Language Services:

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care  is pleased to announce that the amended Ontario Regulation 515/09: Engagement with the Francophone Community (O. Reg. 515/09) under Section 16 of the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 has taken effect as of November 1, 2017.

As part of the development process, the ministry conducted extensive consultation with key stakeholders including the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), French Language Health Planning Entities (“Entities”), the French Language Health Services (FLHS) Advisory Council, the French Language Services Commissioner and the Ministry of Francophone Affairs. The feedback and recommendations we received helped inform the amendments that were made to O. Reg. 515/09. These amendments are intended help strengthen accountability for the planning of FLHS in Ontario and better reflect the collaborative relationship between the LHINs and Entities in regard to improving access to FLHS at the LHINs and sub-regional levels.

MOHLTC French Language Services Realignment Update:

To better integrate planning for the delivery of FLS into health care system transformation, the ministry’s French Language Services Office (FLSO) has been realigned from the Corporate Management Branch in the Corporate Services Division, to the LHIN Liaison Branch, in the Health System Accountability, Performance and French Language Services Division (HSAPFLSD).

The Assistant Deputy Minister, HSAPFLSD is now responsible for the French Language Health Services file. This realignment will effectively support our goal of further strengthening health services in French.

French Language Health Planning Entities (FLHPE) under the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006

On January 1, 2010, a new regulation under Section 16 of the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006, came into effect to support coordinated and effective engagement of French-speaking communities on issues related to French language health services. This regulation outlines how the ministry is to select French language health planning entities to work with the LHINs. The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care selected two planning entities on June 30 and four on December 15, 2010.

A French Language Services Coordinator for every Local Health Integration Network

The ministry is committed to ensuring that LHINs have adequate French language capacity to plan for French language services and to support the engagement of the French-speaking population at the local level. In 2009-10, the Ministry provided funding to the LHINs for FLS Program Implementation and Francophone Community Engagement. French Language Services Coordinators were added as LHINs resources to enhance French language services (FLS).

The Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA) Tool

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care identified equity as a key component of quality care. It developed the HEIA tool to support improved health equity, including the reduction of avoidable health disparities between population groups.

The HEIA is a flexible and practical tool used to identify and respond to unintended potential health impacts (positive or negative) of a plan, policy or program on a broad range of vulnerable or marginalized groups within the general population. This includes assessing potential impacts of decisions on French-speaking communities, including French-speaking sub- populations. In addition, French-speaking populations are afforded specific constitutional and legal rights reflected in provincial legislation, including the French Language Services Act (FLSA). To address these issues, a French Language Services Supplement was developed alongside the HEIA tool to support the effective integration of French language service (FLS) considerations within decision-making, policy and program development-in particular when health equity issues are being addressed. Thus, FLS integration can now be considered upfront and alongside other equity issues that may surface in a Health Equity Impact Assessment.

FLS support for Crown Agencies

The Ministry provides training and ongoing advice to develop and implement French language services to be included in the work done by Crown Agencies. For example, Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) receives funding on a yearly basis specifically to support the salary of a full-time FLS Coordinator and some costs associated with providing FLS.

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