Despite an assumption that Canada’s Francophone population is bilingual, the reality is that many Canadian Francophones are culturally and linguistically unique. Several studies show that Francophones living in minority contexts do not have adequate access to care and services in French, which has serious impacts to this population’s health. In general, Francophone monitories tend to be older, have less education, and have lower income levels than their Anglophone counterparts, while incidence of chronic disease and obesity is higher. The reality of these persistent disparities is why UGME and Affaires francophones organizes Journée de la Francophonie for medical students every year.
This year, students were able to experience first-hand the challenges and vulnerability often felt by both patients and healthcare providers. All students participated in a simulated linguistic clinic in a language that was, for the most part, unknown to them. Following this experience, Dr. Denis-LeBlanc, Vice-Dean of Francophone Affairs, presented on the social determinants of health for people living in linguistic minorities, and the importance of providing an active offer of service in French. This is an easy way to help ensure that patients receive quality care in their own language and promotes equity with services offered to individuals who speak and understand the official language of the majority community. The day wrapped up with a bilingual performance from the Franco-Ontarian comedy and improv group, Improtéine, which hilariously touched on themes of la Francophonie and active offer.