Results at a Glance – Evaluation of the Official Languages Health Contribution Program 2012-2013 to 2014-2015

  • The Official Languages Community Development Bureau coordinates Health Canada's responsibilities for the advancement of English and French under the Official Languages Act (1988).
  • This involves enhancing the vitality of English-speaking and French-speaking minority communitiesFootnote 1; fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.
  • The Official Languages Health Contribution Program (OLHCP) aims to increase access to bilingual health professionals and intake staff in official language minority communities and to increase the offer of health services targeted to these communities.
  • The Program seeks to achieve these objectives through three components: integrating health professionals in official language minority communities; strengthening local health networking capacity; and health services access and retention projects.

What the evaluation found

  • Official language minority communities are more likely to experience socio-economic, demographic and other risk factors associated with poor health status.
  • The OLHCP has contributed to increased access to bilingual health professionals and intake staff in official language minority communities by supporting post-secondary and language training activities as well as a variety of other initiatives.
  • The available evidence indicates that health services in the minority official language are offered in a minority of communities and health services across Canada.
  • While data exists on the number of health facilities that claim to provide bilingual health services, more extensive research is needed on whether these services are being offered in practice.
  • There is limited research on the extent to which official language minority community members access health services in their preferred language and the level of satisfaction with these services. Further research would strengthen the Program's ability to measure and report on its effectiveness.
  • The current approach to performance reporting, at both the recipient and Program levels, could be improved to more fully capture Program impacts, particularly those that relate to the performance of the 36 health networks that are supported by the program.
  • Given the government-wide and portfolio-wide efforts on performance measurement, observations related to the current performance measurement contained in this evaluation should be considered in the context of this work.

Recommendations and responses

  1. The OLCDP should pursue opportunities to improve the quality and availability of information on the extent to which health services are available and actively offered in the preferred language of OLMC members, on the extent to which these members access these services, and on their level of satisfaction with such access.

Response: Health Canada will work with provincial and territorial funding partners to promote the inclusion of language identifiers in health system databases and surveys to assess OLMCs access and level of satisfaction with health services in their preferred language.

About the evaluation

The evaluation looked at the relevance and performance of Health Canada's Official Languages Health Contribution Program from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2015.  The evaluation included a review of literature, documents, financial and other administrative data, interviews with people inside and outside of the government, and a telephone-based "mystery shop survey" of bilingual health care facilities across Canada.

Findings from this evaluation will inform the ongoing horizontal evaluation of the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

March 2017


Footnote 1

These official language minority communities (OLMCs) are defined in terms of the number of individuals living in Quebec for whom English is their first official language spoken, as well as the number of individuals living elsewhere in Canada for whom French is their first official language spoken.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

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