Technical Committee Member Profile: Gilles Vienneau, Director, Société Santé et Mieux-être en français du N.-B., SSF recognition program

Related: Raising the bar on linguistic diversity in health care and services


Gilles Vienneau is passionate about language rights and health care. His job as Director of the Société Santé et Mieux-être en français du Nouveau-Brunswick lets him combine both.

“I’ve been involved in social work and various aspects of health throughout my career,” he said. “Many opportunities even overlapped.”

After working in many parts of the country, from Ottawa to British Columbia and the Yukon, Vienneau’s focus in the last six years has been to ensure francophones in New Brunswick have equal access to health and social services.

To that end he has worked with Health Standards Organization (HSO) and Accreditation Canada (AC) to develop the SSF Recognition Program. It stands for Soins de Santé en Français, health services in French. Two institutions are testing it; one in Ontario and the other in the Yukon.

“It’s a legal right to be served in your official language of choice,” Vienneau explained, “but that doesn’t mean it’s offered everywhere. As we’ve learned, language can be a barrier or a key. In some places, the level of language will negatively impact the quality of care received.”

Being on the technical committee for the SSF Recognition Program has helped Vienneau learn about language rights in various jurisdictions. They vary greatly by province. “I hope the recognition will become mandatory, he said. “A law, not just a suggestion. There’s nothing quite like a standard to measure whether you are meeting this requirement or not.”

Describing himself as a lifelong learner, Vienneau is pleased with his experience on the technical committee. “I feel like I’ve earned almost half a degree’s worth every time we met! Everyone is so humble, yet so smart and qualified. HSO recruited from the international community as well, including members from Wales and Spain, where language is also a hot topic. It’s been a very interesting learning experience.”

When asked why health care professionals should consider joining a technical committee, he said HSO apreciates its representatives. “We’re fully recognized and there’s respect for our role in the equation. We feel heard as professionals, treated as equals, and we know we’re making a difference.”


Do you want to make a difference and help shape the future of health and social services in Canada and around the world?

If you have significant experience in health or social services, consider joining one of HSO’s Technical Committees. Learn more about the Technical Committees and how to apply.