What will Ontario health overhaul mean for Muskoka?

Faith Castro
February 28, 2019

A government source, also not authorized to speak publicly told Global News said, "We are designing a system based around patients and their families".

The legislation is being introduced at Queen's Park this afternoon and details are expected to follow.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath has warned the language in the draft bill allows for greater privatization in the health system.

But he also said the announcement seemed to create a new opportunity for health-care service providers to work differently to benefit patients, while reducing administrative and financial barriers to meeting local health-care needs of residents.

The idea, Ms. Elliott said, is to have local organizations such as hospitals, community health centres, home-care providers and doctors voluntarily form a team, then apply to the government to be the central point of contact in a geographic area, or for specific kinds of patients such as the frail elderly or children with complex needs. Whereas, home care, from a funding perspective, is probably the most underdeveloped part of the health-care system.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario said they're optimistic that the government plan will divert money from middle management in the health bureaucracy to front line care.

The province will be combining many of its health services including the LHINs to create one super agency named Ontario Health. Health care providers will be accountable for the patients they serve and will partner to effectively coordinate their care. Ontario Health will oversee health care delivery, and improve clinical guidance and provide support for providers to enable better quality care for patients.

Ms. Elliott said about 30 ad hoc groups have already approached her government about applying. The province has added new agencies and health-care programs, but has not integrated or co-ordinated them.

The move likely means job cuts, but Health Minister Christine Elliott wouldn't say how many.

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The other agencies being rolled into Ontario Health are Health Quality Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Health Shared Services Ontario, and HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency.

Will patients still be able to choose their own health-care providers? Yes.

Kevin Smith, the president of the University Health Network in Toronto, was enthusiastic about putting local teams in charge of health care. They're the ones referring patients to wait-listed home care or mental health service providers and they know where the issues are and have ideas about ways to fix them, Young said.

The Minister's Patient and Family Advisory Council, which provides advice on health-care priorities that have an impact on patient care and experience, will become a permanent advisory body.

"One in six hospital beds are occupied by someone who needs to be in long-term care or at home or assisted living, " he said.

The Ontario Health Teams will help roll out patient access to more secure digital tools, including the ability to teleconference with care providers, book appointments and access health records.

"What's happened in health care in this country is we've become experts at merging and unmerging, rather than providing health care", Mr. McNamara said. "I don't think there is quite as much to (the announcement) as they would like to have us believe".

The Ontario Health Coalition said it would fight any attempt to privatize the public non-profit health services, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees said it will begin escalating actions across the province to push the government to reconsider the changes.

Enhancing primary care, or empowering physicians to be health care navigators, has been a focus of many studies and policy experiments in Canada and beyond, Blomqvist said. "I don't view that the role of public health will change".

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