The PC government's sweeping changes to Ontario's health system have health care professionals wondering if it will actually mean better access to care for patients.
The government tabled proposed legislation called the People's Health Care Act on Tuesday to enact the changes.
As expected, the minister also confirmed that a new superagency, Ontario Health, would absorb the functions of six health-care agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario, and 14 local health integration networks (LHINs), the organizations that now oversee home care and manage the waiting lists for nursing homes.
The NDP has warned that language in the draft bill allows for greater privatization in the health system.
"The people of Ontario deserve a connected health care system that puts their needs first", said Elliott. Ontario Health Teams will focus on existing local health care providers partnering or working together to provide coordinated care, or teams of providers serving a specialized patient population such as specialty pediatric or patients with complex health needs.
Ontario is spending $3.8 billion over 10 years to establish a comprehensive and connected system for mental health and addictions treatment and adding 15,000 new long-term care beds over five years and 30,000 beds over 10 years.
If passed, six agencies are slated for "transition", including Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, eHealth Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Health Share Services Ontario, HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency. It has already been dubbed the "super-agency", by critics who fear the reforms will lead to increased privatization.
But the changes had some supporters in the health care sector, including the associations representing the province's doctors, registered nurses and hospitals. "I think we have to look at this as a rearrangement, but rearranged around the patient", she said.
But Elliott would not say how many jobs could be lost during the reorganization.
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A news release states, "Ontario now has a large network of provincial and regional agencies, clinical oversight bodies and 1,800 health service provider organizations". Plus, it funds $143 million in home care annually.
"What it means is that decision-making is made outside of your community and for we in Northern Ontario that has always been a problem because we know unless there is someone in Smooth Rock Falls advocating for the people in Smooth Rock Falls about services in the community that they live in, you become the afterthought".
Improving access to secure digital tools, including online health records and virtual care options for patients - a 21st-century approach to health care.
The new policy is "not prescriptive on governance" for the teams that are to emerge, but the minister can set criteria for providers and transfer assets to the new agency, the officials said.
Patients would have help in navigating the public health care system 24/7. 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.
"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. Local health care providers will be empowered to work as a connected team, taking on the work of easing transitions for patients across the continuum of care.
More efficient use of public health care dollars by eliminating duplicative back office infrastructure and administration. "This creates confusion for both patients and providers trying to navigate the health care system". "I think what they need is a very clear mandate".
There was no word on job cuts, but talk is of "understanding the assets in the system" and making decisions that best serve the agency, including on the level of staffing it needs.