Blue skies for Francophone research

When it comes to Francophone research in Ontario, Dr. Alain Gauthier thinks big.

As lead of OSSU’s Francophone Initiative, he aims to build on the group’s successes to expand into every part of the province.

During the first phase of OSSU, the initiative evolved significantly, with stakeholders now involved from across Ontario, and patient partners in all four corners of the province.  Housed at Institut de Savoir Montfort in Ottawa, the group aims to increase its visibility further with a bigger web and social media presence, more tools to help researchers and research briefs with data on Francophone health issues.

From tools to identify Francophones in data sets, support on how to interpret the language variable, running sub-group analyses for Francophones, Anglophones and Allophones and a French language sex and gender tool, the group offers a range of services for researchers in Ontario.

“We’re also trying to build a patient partner repository for people to identify that they’d like to be partners for research, and their experience and location,” says Alain. “Our vision was we’d be a patient partner broker and researchers would come to us – we’d be matchmakers.  If a team in Toronto wants access, they can come to us to find a patient partner.”

The immediate priorities – making definitions and variables available to identify Francophones in research, increasing visibility of research to Francophones and incorporating Francophone partners into research projects – will build a stronger identity for the group and equal representation of patient partners and researchers across Ontario.

Alain and his colleagues hope that will involve more funding and a bigger footprint in the research landscape in the province. “Our vision is that the initiative will be transformed into a Centre for Excellence in Francophone research,” says Alain. “Right now, we’re more of a service entity but we’d like to build capacity to be a stand-alone research centre and develop infrastructure to support Francophone research across the country.”