Private surgery: what impact on care in French?
Observers wonder if Franco-Ontarians will have to wait longer to obtain care in their language.
Cataract surgery at the Kensignton Eye Institute in Toronto
Access to care in French in Ontario could deteriorate as the Ford government assigns more surgeries to private clinics. This is one of the possible collateral effects of greater privatization of the health network, warn French-speaking leaders.
Between concerns and questions, many Franco- Ontarians are still struggling to fully understand the repercussions of transferring thousands of operations covered by health insurance to the private sector.
“We have everything to lose, us francophones. »
— France Gélinas, NDP MP for Nickel Belt
NDP MP France Gélinas fears the repercussions of this expansion of the role of the private sector on services in French. In private clinics, the French Language Services Act (LSF) does not apply. They have no motivation to offer services in French, summarizes the one who is the spokesperson for the New Democrats for health.
Nickel Belt MP France Gélinas of the New Democratic Party of Ontario
I would be enormously surprised if we had a [private] Francophone surgical clinic in Ontario. I would be really really blown away, launches France Gélinas.
In an email exchange, the Ontario Ministry of Health confirmed that private clinics located in designated areas (under the Health Services Act French) will be required to publish certain information in French if they wish to perform surgical procedures reimbursed by the province.
Ministry spokesman Bill Campbell explained that clinics will have to agree to meet certain language requirements when calling for applications, without giving further details.
The Ford government promises that it will melt waiting lists by 25% thanks to the transformations it proposes. But will the wait also decrease for French speakers? Nothing less certain, believes France Gélinas.
According to her, patients who request services in French will be forced to receive them in hospitals, since the clinics will not be able to provide them. Hospitals will also retain the more complex procedures and could lose more staff to independent clinics.
It will mean that if you want your service in French, you will have to wait at the hospital. And hospital wait times will increase.
I can't wait to see a little bit more detail. It is certain that it causes great concern, affirms the president of the Assembly of the Francophonie of Ontario (AFO). He is awaiting clarification from the Ministry of Health.
Fabien Hébert believes that the intentions behind the Ford government's plan – to reduce waiting times – are laudable, but for now , he has more questions than answers about the impact this announcement will have on the province's Francophones.
President of the Assembly of the Francophonie of Ontario, Fabien Hébert
Which clinics will be chosen? How are we going to be able to serve the Francophone population through these places that will be created? wonders Mr. Hébert. Healthcare is something he knows well, having served as CEO of Smooth Rock Falls Hospital for almost 15 years.
“[I would] like the government to take steps to ensure that some of these clinics are able to offer services in French. »
— Fabien Hébert, President of the Francophone Assembly of Ontario
Fabien Hébert would also like the private clinics that will provide care reimbursed by the province to be considered as third parties in the context of the modernization of the LSF. Such a designation would force these clinics and independent care facilities to offer bilingual services, Hébert said.
I think it would be proof of the goodwill of the government to ensure that in their negotiations with private providers, they provide for accessibility to services in French, he underlines.
Mr. Hébert intends to have a good discussion on this point during his next meeting with the Minister of Francophone Affairs, Caroline Mulroney.
There should be provisions in certain designated bilingual regions so that people can get services in French. It should be there. That is the big concern, adds Michel Tremblay, director general of the Federation of Francophone Seniors and Retirees of Ontario (FARFO).
When it& #x27;is a matter of urgency, when it's a matter of pain, we are no longer bilingual. Often, we take the first opportunity to be treated, he regrets.
He believes that the plans proposed by Mr. Ford may have temporary good, but that they should not be a permanent approach.
With information from Camille Gris Roy