Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announces the Government of Ontario’s plan for long-term health care system at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare in Toronto on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.
Tijana Martin / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is planning to merge the province’s 20 health agencies into one and will create up to 50 local health teams to co-ordinate patient care – major moves that will be felt in London, a medical capital in Southwestern Ontario.At an announcement in Toronto Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said too much time and money is spent maintaining a fragmented system. Transitions between health care providers – including primary care, hospitals, long-term care and home care – are often left to families and patients to navigate themselves.“We are leaving Ontarians behind because our system is disconnected,” she said. “The fact is that the value of our health care system is locked in siloes. This is no way to deliver health care in our province.”Under the plan, a new agency, Ontario Health, will consolidate Ontario’s 14 regional health care administrations, Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario and Trillium Gift of Life Network and other agencies.The South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) – the regional super-agency that allocates health care dollars in much of Southwestern Ontario from Lake Erie to Tobermory – would be caught up in the agency amalgamation.The province will also establish so-called Ontario Health Teams – comprised of different health care providers – to improve patient transitions between health care settings.The health teams will oversee care for about 300,000 people in a given area and will include primary care providers, hospitals, mental health and addiction services, palliative care, long-term care and home care services.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.The government intends to introduce legislation on the health system overhaul by Tuesday afternoon.Elliott said the government will begin creating Ontario Health this spring but said the changes will not happen overnight.Amalgamating provincial health care agencies into Ontario Health would eliminate “duplicative back office infrastructure and administration,” the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care said in a statement.Elliott did not give details on the number of job-losses or cost savings that would result from combining the provincial agencies.“One of our key priorities as a government is to deliver local, community-based care, unencumbered by bureaucracy,” she said.– with files by the Canadian Press