A new study from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine says francophone Manitobans are getting healthier with each new generation.
Research has typically shown francophones to be in poorer overall health than non-francophones. In the first study of its kind in Manitoba, researchers found similar results with a small twist. On average, each generation of francophones seems to be getting healthier presumably as French language laws and policies have evolved. Older francophones in Manitoba measured less healthy than non-francophones, while younger francophones were healthier than non-francophones.
Led by Dr. Mariette Chartier from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, the report looked at 76 health indicators. They compared francophone and similar groups of non-francophone Manitobans.
“We found things like life expectancy to be very similar between the two groups,” says Dr. Chartier. “After adjusting for things like age, sex, and socioeconomic status, francophone females should live until about 83.7 years old while non-francophone females are expected to live for 83.1 years. Francophone males have a life expectancy of 78.8 years compared to 78.1 years for non-francophones.”
Francophones’ health status was higher than non-francophones in 15 areas. Graduation rates were higher for francophones, as were screening rates for breast and cervical cancer. Francophones generally had higher rates of immunization for the flu. Francophones also had lower rates of diagnosis for mental health issues, hypertension, and diabetes.
On the other hand, francophones fare worse in nine areas. On average, francophone kids were not as ready for school in Kindergarten as the groups of non-francophone kids. Rates for heart surgery were also higher for francophones, as were waiting times to get into a personal care home. Francophones were admitted, on average, in 13.2 weeks versus 8.0 weeks for non-francophones.
“We also found regional differences,” says Dr. Chartier. “In what used to be the Assiniboine, Brandon, and Central regional health authorities, the life expectancy of francophones was longer than non-francophones.”
This is the first large-scale study of the health of francophones in Manitoba. It will inform policies and service planning in addressing the health needs of the francophone population, which is a very big step because until now there has been little data on the health of francophones. Researchers say that on a national and international scale, this study will contribute to greater knowledge of the health of minorities.