Sweeping changes on the way to health-care system in Ontario

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Describing the system as "fragmented", she promised the government would make it easier for patients to move between health care providers and have access to their records.

The government is transforming the public health care system to improve patient experience and strengthen local services.This means that patients and families will have access to better and more connected services, and will wait less for these services. "That is just wrong". The association recommended Ontario help hospitals and the home and community care sector to have "direct collaboration;" increase the capacity to provide mental health and behavioural support in long-term care and in the community; allow health care providers to coordinate care; and develop a provincial health care capacity plan.

Tijana Martin/CANADIAN PRESSOntario Health Minister Christine Elliott meets patients at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare before making an announcement in Toronto on February 26, 2019.

"I think we have to look at this as a rearrangement, but rearranged around the patient, " she said.

She denies the changes are created to save money.

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North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN financial responsibilities include the transfer of roughly $960 million through service accountability agreements to 61 health-service providers, plus home and community care, across Muskoka and parts of Simcoe and Grey counties. "Ontarians can be confident that there will be a sustainable health care system for them when and where they need it". Nothing's going to change that way. Some administrative jobs were lost in the process, but it meant the LHIN took on hundreds of people in what is now called its home and community care branch.

Closer to home, high Sault Area Hospital occupancy levels, often prompting the facility to operate at more than 100 per cent capacity, are the result of swelling numbers of alternate-level-of-care patients, the largest proportion of whom are awaiting long-term-care beds.

"If you're living in Timmins or you're living in Smooth Rock Falls, you're going to be at the losing end of that equation because it really works more in big cities than in small or rural cities across Ontario".

The government introduced the legislation at Queen's Park Tuesday afternoon.

Other agencies to be consolidated are Trillium Gift of Life Network, Health Shared Services, Health Quality Ontario and HealthForce Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency. Health Ontario will begin to take shape this spring, and more information about how to become a Health Care Team will be announced in March.

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He saw similar problems in other provinces, including Alberta and British Columbia, where the pendulum has swung between local and centralized health-care delivery without clear improvements in patient care. Elliott said the goal is to have 30 to 50 health teams set up, each responsible for up to 300,000 people.

The Ontario Health Coalition has spoken strongly against the PC plans, saying in a statement that the changes will give the province "privatization powers".

In a background briefing document, the government promises this will eliminate "duplicative" management and administrative teams, and that at least initially, patients will be able to choose who provides their care.

Kevin Smith, the president of the University Health Network in Toronto, was enthusiastic about putting local teams in charge of health care. "The government is looking at trying to improve integration of care, and this is something that we've been working at but there have been barriers", Huras said. "Theoretically I would have access to one patient record so there would be no delay in patient care in that regard", said Sharad Rai, the president of the London and District Academy of Medicine.

But critics, including the heads of several hospital worker unions and provincial Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, argued Tuesday's announcement will lead to job losses and open the door to privatization.

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