Franco Doc

Development of French-speaking medical human resources in Francophone minority communities in Canada

The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, in collaboration with the Société Santé en Français (SSF), the Consortium National de Formation en Santé (CNFS) and Médecins Francophone du Canada (MFdC), this initiatives aims to develop and enhance French-speaking medical human resources by using an integrated interdisciplinary approach to identify students in English-language faculties of medicine that could meet the needs of Francophone minority communities.

The goal of this project is to identify and mobilize Francophone and Francophile students, prepare and equip them for experiential activities in the community and recruit them for placements in official language minority communities (OLMC) so they may provide safe health services in French.

National context
In 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined the social accountability of medical schools as follows: "the obligation to direct their education, research and service activities towards addressing the priority health concerns of the community, region and/or nation they have a mandate to serve. The priority health concerns are to be identified jointly by governments, health care organizations, health professionals and the public." As a result, in 2001 AFMC adopted a framework entitled Social Accountability—A Vision for Canadian Medical Schools. In 2002, it created the Resource Group on Francophone Minority Communities in Canada (RGFMC), which, right from the beginning, joined forces with key partners, the SSF and MdFC. Together, these three partners work on a common vision and action plan to address this issue.

In light of Canada's increasingly diverse population, the growing need for access to a full range of health services and the challenges of training and retaining qualified health professionals, AFMC published a report in 2010 entitled: The Future of Medical Education in Canada (FMEC). This project is designed to better align medical education with the current and future needs of Canadian society in all its diversity. In this collective vision, the AFMC proposed ten recommendations and five enabling recommendations, including several that focus on improving access to health services in OLMCs.

The RGFMC has developed a common vision and proposed five recommendations and an action plan in concert with its partners, the SSF and MdFC, to adapt the "FMEC" approach to the issue of French-speaking medical human resources in minority communities with a special focus on English-language faculties of medicine. This plan was approved by the AFMC board of directors and the MdFC board of directors in 2011. Since then, the RGFMC has produced a toolbox for this project. The proposed project thus has a solid foundation and is a continuation of this work.

What needs does this project address?
In its 2007 report, the Consultative Committee for French-Speaking Minority Communities (CCFSMC) noted significant discrepancies in the accessibility of health services for FMCs due to a lack of human resources. The situation clearly required the development of truly innovative, creative, integrated strategies that would include English-language faculties of medicine since they train a number of Francophone and Francophile students who could potentially respond to this pressing need. In the same report, the CCFSMC recommended a comprehensive approach to increase the pool of French-speaking health professionals who are also aware of the needs of FMCs. This approach includes providing initial training in French through internships in FMCs and attracting Francophone professionals to these communities and keeping them there.

In a recent study, Statistics Canada reported that "the proportion of health care professionals who know the minority language increased from 2001 to 2006,"  but also noted two exceptions: "among doctors outside Quebec and among psychologists and social workers in Quebec, the number of these professionals saying they know the minority language has dropped." The report later stated: "Among doctors, the decrease in the number of individuals with knowledge of French in the provinces outside Quebec (-2.3%) is accompanied by a drop in the number of doctors who use this language at least regularly at work (-10.8%). However, this decrease is over four times greater than the decrease in the number of doctors who say that they know French. This phenomenon leads one to conclude that even doctors who previously used French at work stopped using it. It should be noted that the number of doctors outside Quebec decreased by 1.4% between 2001 and 2006." While the CNFS has been successful with its member institutions, only two of them (University of Ottawa and the Centre de formation médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick) train physicians in French. Collaboration with the CNFS is essential.

In light of these findings, it is therefore necessary in 2014 to reaffirm the role and commitment of each of the partners mentioned above because each has a strategic role to play in enhancing Francophone medical human resources adapted to meet FMC needs.

Project's Partners

Société Santé en français :

Médecins francophones du Canada :

Consortium national de formation en santé :