Today Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, released Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care. The plan focuses on providing an improved health care experience by connecting patients to more convenient and community based options, addressing wait times for key services, and growing the health care workforce in the years to come.
The three-pillar plan includes the following:
Pillar One – The Right Care in the Right Place
- Accessing Care at Pharmacies: As of January 1, 2023, people can connect to care closer to home at their local pharmacy as pharmacists are able to prescribe medications for 13 common ailments at no extra cost.
- Youth and Mental Health: Adding eight additional Youth Wellness Hubs to the 14 that already operate across the province to make it faster and easier for youth to connect to mental health and substance use support, primary care, and social services.
- Team-Based Care: Expanding team-based care through Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) to better connect and coordinate people’s care within their own community by improving their transition between various health care providers and ensuring their health records are transferred. This will include introducing new primary care networks under OHTs and expanding team models of primary care with up to 1,200 more physicians being added to family health organizations.
- Access to Health811: Originally known as “Health Connect Ontario”, Health811 will soon allow people to create a confidential profile, schedule video visits with clinical advisors, and manage their health through integrated records that can be shared with OHTs, mental health and addictions supports, and other health providers.
Pillar Two – Faster Access to Care
- Reducing the Surgical Backlog: Making access to publicly funded surgeries easier and faster by further leveraging the support of community surgical and diagnostic centres and reducing wait times.
- Emergency Medical Services: Providing paramedics more flexibility to treat people who call 9-1-1 at home or on scene in the community rather than in emergency rooms.
- Long-Term Care: Building approximately 60,000 new and upgraded long-term care (LTC) beds to help address wait lists for LTC and ensure seniors are cared for, connected to more supports, activities, and social activities.
- Palliative Care Services: Expanding palliative care services in local communities and adding 23 new hospice beds to the 500 beds that already exist.
Pillar Three – Hiring More Health Care Workers
- Medical School Expansion: Adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years.
- Education and Training: Expanding the Learn and Stay Grant to help growing and underserved communities increase their health care workforce by covering the costs of tuition, books, and other direct educational costs for postsecondary students who enroll in high-priority programs in return for working in those communities for up to two years after they graduate.
- “As of Right” Rule: The “As of Right” rule will allow health care workers registered in other provinces and territories to immediately start working and caring for people without first having to register with one of Ontario’s health regulatory colleges.
- Reducing Fees for Nurses: Investing an additional $15 million to temporarily cover the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses to help up to 5,000 internationally educated nurses and up to 3,000 retired nurses begin working sooner.
Today’s announcement comes ahead of Minister Jones’ first major keynote address at the Empire Club next week and highlights a series of actions the government has already initiated and includes some new and targeted measures. Some of these changes have already been implemented while others changes will take time and a coordinated effort.
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Please feel free to reach out to our team to learn more about this announcement and what it may mean for you.
Sadaf Abbasi, Director