Frequently Asked Questions

2. Why Services are Required in French

  • Is there a policy that requires service in French?

    The Official Languages Act of 1969 stated the federal government’s commitment to promoting linguistic duality within Canada. In 1989 the Government of Manitoba established a French Language Services policy. The policy ensures that services provided by the Government of Manitoba are offered, to the extent possible, in both official languages in areas where the French speaking population is concentrated. In 1998 the seven bilingual RHAs of Manitoba were directed to complete French Language Services plans for submission to the Minister of Health and the Minister responsible for French Language Services. The WRHA has five specific policies by which services in French are offered in our region.  More information is available here and at

  • Don’t all Francophones of Manitoba speak English?

    No. There are many who have little to no knowledge of English and require health care services in French. Even those who are fluent may prefer to receive their care in their mother tongue. This makes the interaction more comfortable for them and reduces the many risks associated with language barriers. 

    It is a known fact that in stressful and frightening situations, or when someone is ill, or incapacitated, or as they age, the most basic communication skills (the ability to speak and understand) can suffer. This becomes even more pronounced when someone speaks more than one language. Under these circumstances there is a very strong instinct for him/her to revert to his/her first language. We also know that if a patient receives health care services in his/her mother tongue it can help facilitate a positive outcome. (For more information about health outcomes, see  Language Barriers within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Sarah Bowen, Ph.D., 2004)

    Winnipeg is also welcoming very high numbers of immigrants and refugees from French-speaking countries, many of whom do not speak English.