Wednesday, July 27, 2005

McGuinty responds to Montfort

Yesterday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a major injection of cash into l'Hôpital Montfort in Ottawa.

This is quite the turn-around for the Franco-Ontarian community. Montfort, the only French-language teaching hospital in Ontario, had been slated to close under the Mike Harris government. A major lobbing campaign, S.O.S. Montfort, was launched by the Franco-Ontarian population, including a legal campaign to block the closure of the hospital. In 2001, the Ontario court of appeal ruled in their favour. Under yesterday's announcement, the hospital is poised to double in size.

This is excellent news for the francophone community in Ontario. Access to French-language health care services in Ontario only came about as the result of a concerted lobbying effort throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Successive governments dragged their heels on this issue, until the Peterson government came up with a new French Language Services plan for the province in the mid-80s. Access to health care in one's own language is probably second only to education as a priority area for official language services. If you have ever tried to go to a doctor who did not speak your language, you know this from first hand experience. Encountering the medical system can be a terrifying experience, and it becomes worse when you are only half-understanding what your doctor is telling you.

The decision of the Harris government to try to close the only hospital in the province that was training francophone doctors was an act of callous stupidity. I'm pleased to see that not only is the McGuinty government keeping Montfort open, but they are committing to increased growth for French language health care services in the province.

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