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Open Space Proceedings


The Open Space Activity was an opportunity for participants to raise topics of interest. In these times of swirling change, conversation qualifies as real work and is essential for powerful, profitable action.

Based on the evaluations, 82% of those who participated in this activity thought that the quality of this activity was a very good and 76% thought it was equally very useful. Within the following pages you will find the topics that were raised and the thinking that was generated during this exercise. The FLS Committee invites you to continue these discussions on-line. We also invite you to inform members of your organizations of the types of concerns and issues that have been raised and to explore how your organization can contribute to the solutions.

For the FLS Committee, part of the goal of this exercise was to hear what issues are important to participants and to see what the FLS Committee can do to help within its mandate for OHPRS. Within the last portion of these proceedings you will find the next steps that the FLS Committee will be considering for action within its strategic planning for the next 3-years.

1) What French communities have the greatest health disparity? How can these communities be identified and their priorities addressed?

  • Need good demographics and health data
  • Need to meet different francophone communities to assess needs
  • Provincial Resource Centres are issue specific. The issue may not be as important to the majority of French communities. Centres must rely on requests at the present time or use their judgement.
  • E.g. Healthy weights messages and strategies would be different among French communities depending upon the culture. Having one resource translated would not be adequate to meet the needs.

2) How do I reach my clients?

  • 31 different languages in region but it’s impossible to find the clients in order to deliver a nutrition program from Toronto Public Health.
  • The nutrition program includes a guide on healthy eating, parenting tips, and each family attending the program leaves with food.
  • The target population is needy families.
  • Possible solutions:
    • Sponsoring other families
    • Promote in French daycares in the area
    • If there is already an established program in public health, maybe form a partnership/promote within the program
    • Promote with other health care professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.)
    • Increase the visibility – How to sell your program?
    • It is easy to have similar programs and stop working in each their own sector.
  • We found that it was different from one region to the next. The only common denominator: do the promotion in ENGLISH. Example: La Cité collégiale promoted their programs in French in The Ottawa Citizen (English newspaper)
  • Promote in “What’s On”, official document of libraries ex. p. 21 the information is in French
  • Identify different publications and decide how to insert your program
  • In apartment buildings, have on announcement board
  • Partnerships
  • One of the promotional strategies is to identify various publications
  • Target community services: TFO, radio (Radio-Canada), public libraries
  • Present the promotion in a way that is attractive to people. Use exact words depending on your population
  • Many Francophones feel limited in their French abilities therefore it is important to use simple language. Ex. which ethnicities are targeted? Start with African Francophone community and build an approach /vocabulary which is different than one used for a francophone Vietnamese family. Adapt your language.
  • Example. Families will go to the first meeting and after life circumstances become priority. People start cancelling and don’t show up. Organise a system to involve the families; make them responsible for one session out of the 6 sessions. Each family decides the menu for their session and others bring suggestions on methods used (obviously with great diplomacy). By allowing a larger implication (involvement) we hope to favour the retention of the participants.

3) How to stop French organisations from fighting to provide the same services?

  • More francophone networking to discuss and work together in partnerships
  • Communication between ministries to ensure equal distribution of moneys from different ministries
  • An organisation which would be spokesperson to negotiate partnership with government – Réseau de concertation
  • Regional organisation for mediation
  • Organisation should be loyal to their basic status per region and not develop services that become “superficial”
  • Have the same comprehension of the community, the same message. The community is composed of multiple different communities – need to find a common ground

4) How can we continue this networking from a distance?

  • Networking website on OHPRS site
  • Blogs
  • “wiki” – anyone can contribute content
  • Blogs could include specific content; agencies could update their own content
  • Message boards on website
  • Need to look at existing resources to build upon them
  • Host FLS events more than once a year
  • Host FLS events regionally (some agencies may not have funds to attend provincial events)
  • In what language will networking take place?
    • Possible to have information in both French and English
    • Offer on-line translation of certain web pages
    • Use chat rooms, “Live meeting” for specific topics in either languages; keep a record of chats & meetings for future use
  • Need to have directories of users for “wikis”
  • What about cost? “Live meeting” is free for OHPRS members
  • Push for annual events like this one
  • Networking events (wine & cheese), etc.) can happen at regional and provincial events
  • Teleconference presentations on specific topics in either English or French
  • Directory of individuals in attendance at this particular event; each agency can update their own information, searchable by last name, field, etc.
  • Are there ways to reach francophone practitioners – the responsibility falls on us

5) How can we bring together a collaborative and comprehensive approach of accessible and equitable services for francophone GLBTT and PLWHIV in Toronto and throughout Ontario?


  • Francoqueer has a new HIV project since august 2008 and are conscious that there is a lot to do. It is difficult to service GLBTT when the services are oriented towards ethnic groups.


  • If the organisations don’t have the resources to offer services, at least refer them to organisations that have them.
  • Ensure that the existing services be registered at service 211
  • Participation of GLBT organisations to regional forums and conferences ex. LHIN


  • Short term – immediate clinical need
  • Long term – education, conscious raising with intermediaries


  • In regions – francophone services for GLBTT are rare


  • Suggest a teleconference between intermediaries (region and Toronto) and the client


  • The regional organisations invite the GLBT groups to present their projects and existing services.

6) What are some of the strategies to access funding to support French language services (FLS)?

  • FLS OHPRS funding available: small amounts, doesn’t include staff time
  • Helpful to list what resources are needed:
    • Needs assessment/community consultations
    • Some services provided by multiple minorities – learn from others experiences
    • Research on who provides funding
    • Would you apply solely or in partnership with other organisations –may ask for internal support organisation?
  • Direct advocacy not possible in many cases
    • Get French community to advocate on your behalf. What do they need? Let them know you are having problems. Once determined, they can help.
  • Environmental scan: what is already there?
  • A need may not be raised in consultation such as tobacco use – create the need.
  • Other funding sources:
    • Health Canada
    • assessing diversity (Government of Canada)
    • CIHR, Trillium
    • Citizenship & culture (especially newcomers)
    • Newcomers
  • FLS have voluntary services - University student projects, departments
  • Are there FLS groups or volunteer groups that could move you forward?
    • Mini advisory group e.g. ACFO has a volunteer database
    • Ministry of Health Promotion needs to mandate certain portion of staff be bilingual (Full Time Equivalent .FTE) and provide funding.

7) How can we make FLS everyone’s responsibility within the agency (organisational culture)?

  • Lots of people were upset that this was in English
  • FLS Committee pushed this agenda
  • Need FLS – started with sensitisation
  • Annual action plan – FLS 3-year mandatory to develop FLS
  • Last year – how do we do it?
  • This year – need to connect with the community
  • Organisational culture – need to reach the right people – managers or executive directors that can cause changes
  • Needed to get the right people if it was only French or bilingual – wanted to make them as comfortable as possible.
  • Have to take the back door to get to the front door.
  • FLS messages have to be passed along and understood but it has to be lived by people.
  • It is often one person that is responsible for FLS. Take health promotion – it’s their collective vision. FLS is the same. It’s in all aspects of service.
  • Organisation designated bilingual – Nexus offer a quality service in both official languages. Worked in silos – one or two people doing all the French language services. Not always the same person so there was consequence because of not being liked or getting a bad service. The employee has to have support – start at the top: a real engagement (commitment).
  • Planning stages: the community has to be implicated as well.
  • Example: YMCA – one person to look after FLS. That person needs to feel at ease to go see upper management to explain what is needed. Needs real support
  • Agency needs to address the FLS issues. We know there is a need – it has been established for sure.
  • Financially they have to see the benefits long term
  • Have the mandate but no support
  • How many requests per year? 2 or 3. The demand is not there. Active offer is important.
  • Some think there is no problem and those who know there is a problem and need – help to solve the problem
  • Push the right buttons – see the right people to take action.
  • OPC delivered services for other 12 of the 21 agencies – provide quality services
  • “Sensibilisation” au support organisationnel – “Awareness” of organisational support
  • Connect with right people
  • “Internal work” “sensibilisation” very important
  • Translation is a block due to funding
  • Customer service shift toward client
  • What are the needs of the client? That is our focus. Language becomes a focus
  • Who do we focus on?
  • Are we losing part of our community? Managers & directors have to view in that context.
  • Quality service. Heard that if they offer training courses go to English instead of French. GO see the committee and selection panels.
  • Four groups that we serve: aboriginals, dual linguistic, LO, multi cultural.
  • Support the francophone communities
  • The community development is important: education, training, tools to feed this
  • Identify the patient’s language right on arrival will feed that culture
  • Maximize your human resources
  • Evaluate organisational functions and spread redistribute roles to alleviate areas that are overburdened
  • Often we see more francophone employees under a francophone manager – higher retention rate
  • Ensuring respect and equity is everyone’s responsibility
  • Just do it and stop talking about it. Canada is a bilingual country.
  • Do ice breaker sessions. Do you speak another language? How do you feel when you speak your own language? Feel it now!! How would you like to be served?

8) Why isn’t there a woman’s shelter for Francophones in the region of Toronto even though the needs really exist?

  • OASIS’ goal is to bring help to women victims of violence. It is a non-governmental organisation.
  • The majority of women that come and ask for help at OASIS speak French and not English. The problem this organisation encounters is to find a shelter where services are offered in French.
  • The shelters are financed 10% private funding, 90% government funding. For this 90% bilingual positions have been identified but are not always respected. More bilingual positions should be designated.
  • What was decided at this table was to write a letter to Mr François Boileau, Commisaire of FLS of Ontario so that he takes on this problem.

9) How can we best serve/reach (i.e. strategies, approach,) the francophone communities with limited (i.e. no designated funding) resources?

  • We should have a budget for francophone services…within the global budget of an organisation – we must reserve a percentage for FLS.
  • Not many organisations work that way…we need collaboration between organisations that do have funds – partnerships with groups that specialize in specific areas.
  • Partnerships create energy – especially important for organisations that have no French/bilingual staff.
  • Are LHIN aware of all of the FLS in their regions? It seems not.
  • What are the vehicles that can get the messages out? LHINs? Local Public Health Nurses? We need better communications with these organisations.
  • Parent Action Drugs (PAD) has gaps when it comes to FLS delivery…seek to go more in that direction but would need to have an individual or staff. We simply don’t have the budget.
  • The solution may be partnerships – having access to someone who can help with this.
  • Could OHPRS have a pool – someone on hand who can be hired in a as needed basis by organisations needing a bilingual person?
  • Resources get translated but don’t get used/delivered because of lack of funds.
  • What channels of communication?
  • When planning the project, know that you’ll be targeting Francophones.
  • Did that. Still have barriers of moving forward.
  • Need a system where OHPRS provides access to bilingual people that can be hired temporarily – “pool or roster”
  • Also need OHPRS to create guidelines for communicating with LHINS.
  • There are a lot of freelancers available , but need referral from OHPRS.
  • TEACH Project have problems recruiting people in the North
  • Need to tailor workshops to the target audience. Engagement process with the population is important.


  • Based on the lack of French/bilingual staff human resources and funding, and sporadic demands for such resources, we recommend a coordinated system from OHPRS like a person or persons available on retainer to all resource centres to do occasional bilingual or French services to provide consultation, facilitation e.g. on cultural appropriateness…not to develop strategies but to deliver services and implement strategies. OHPRS would be responsible for keeping person (s) on staff – would be seconded area of health to organisations. The person would develop skills in the area of health.

10) The need for accessibility in French training for the (interpreters) such as in sign language, blind, deaf…

  • No one discussed this point and the person who brought up this issue had brought up another question as well and was part of the other issue’s discussion.

Next Steps for the FLS Committee

Based on the issues mentioned during this activity, the FLS Committee will take the following forward for discussion at the next strategic planning exercise in January 2009:

∆      Through its project funding, the FLS Committee has helped resource centres identify the needs of their Francophone communities. Based on capacity, the FLS Committee could look at offering more funding to those resource centres who have not yet been able to assess the needs of their Francophone community.

The 2nd Report on the Health of Francophones by Laurentian University contains health and demographic data.

∆      To help with the promotion of French programs and services, the FLS Committee will provide (on the OHPRS web-site) a list of French media and Francophone organizations which could help with the promotion of these services.

∆      Sharing of the proceedings from this activity is only the first step toward the continuation of the networking that occurred during The French Connection Event. The Francophone Tour is currently another opportunity for networking regionally. The information on the Tour Stops will be posted on the OHPRS web-site.

∆      Within its strategic planning in January, the FLS Committee will decide what type of annual francophone event can be offered in future.

∆      The FLS Committee can certainly disseminate information regarding services available to the GLBT community within the OHPRS. A better understanding of the health related needs of this community must be identified and communicated to OHPRS members.

∆      The FLS Committee is currently investigating sources of funding that would in turn be shared with OHPRS members. Based on the level of this future funding of the FLS Committee, the committee will explore the potential of hiring a person who could deliver some services and implement strategies for member


 Last Updated: 07-Dec-2009
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