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Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care
February 02, 2023
Ontario government connecting people to convenient care, close to home
TORONTO — The Ontario government today released Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care. The plan focuses on providing people with a better health care experience by connecting them to more convenient options closer to home while shortening wait times for key services across the province and growing the health care workforce for years to come.
“When it comes to your health and the health of all Ontarians, the status quo isn’t working,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we put our bold plan into action, you will be connected to care when you need it most and where it’s most convenient, whether that’s closer to home in your community or even at home.”
The plan lays out a broad series of initiatives under three pillars: The Right Care in the Right Place, Faster Access to Care and Hiring More Health Care Workers. Designed to work together and work for people, these pillars will deliver connected and convenient care in hospital emergency rooms, in community settings like pharmacies and community organizations and doctors’ offices, in long-term care homes and through care delivered right at home.
Key initiatives in the plan include the following, some of which are being implemented immediately as the province takes action to address pressing issues, while other changes will take time but are still important to improving the care people receive:
Pillar One: The Right Care in the Right Place
- Expanding the role of pharmacists so that people can connect to care closer to home at their local pharmacy, and giving family doctors more time for appointments with people who need more specialized care for more serious concerns. As of January 1, 2023, pharmacists are able to prescribe medications for 13 common ailments to people across Ontario at no extra cost. As of January 29, 2023, nearly 40,000 assessments for minor ailments have been completed and over 31,000 prescriptions have been issued, with 65 per cent of pharmacies across all public health units having provided minor ailment services and increasing.
- Making it faster and easier for youth to connect to mental health and substance use support, primary care, social services and more by adding eight additional Youth Wellness Hubs to the 14 that are already operating across the province.
- Expanding team-based care through Ontario Health Teams 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 follow them wherever they go for care. Introducing new primary care networks under Ontario Health Teams and expanding team models of primary care with up to 1,200 more physicians being added to family health organizations.
Pillar Two: Faster Access to Care
- Making it easier and faster to get publicly funded surgeries and procedures by further leveraging the support of community surgical and diagnostic centres to eliminate surgical backlogs and reduce wait times. This includes investing more than $18 million in existing centres to cover care for thousands of patients, including more than 49,000 hours of MRI and CT scans, 4,800 cataract surgeries, 900 other ophthalmic surgeries, 1,000 minimally invasive gynecological surgeries and 2,845 plastic surgeries.
- 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. Successful 9-1-1 models of care have been expanded in more than 40 communities across the province, resulting in patients receiving the care they needed up to 17 times faster with 94 per cent of patients avoiding the emergency room in the days following treatment.
- Building almost 60,000 new and upgraded long-term care beds to help address wait lists for long-term care and ensure seniors are being cared for in the right place, where they can connect to more supports, activities and social activities. This is in addition to the more than 3,500 hospital beds added across the province in the last three years to ensure access to hospital care when it is needed.
Pillar Three: Hiring More Health Care Workers
- Moving forward with the largest medical school education expansion in more than a decade by adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years. This expansion includes the new Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Medicine that recently found its new home in Brampton.
- Expanding education and training opportunities for those interested in working in health care, including expanding the Learn and Stay grant that is helping over a dozen growing and underserved communities grow 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.
- Introducing new “As of Right” rules that 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.
Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care will put Ontarians back in charge of their health, making it easier to navigate care at every stage of their life, providing more ways to receive care closer to home, and ensuring that people will be able to get the care they need faster, when it can have the greatest impact to their health.
- Ontario is investing $300 million in 2022/23 as part of the surgical recovery strategy to increase scheduled surgeries and procedures, as well as diagnostic imaging with a focus on areas with the greatest reduction in services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Across the province, 54 Ontario Health Teams are working to improve transitions between health providers and to make sure a patient’s medical record follows them wherever they go for care. They are also focused on embedding home care and primary care services so that care can be provided at home or in the community.
- In 2022, the Ontario government introduced its Plan to Stay Open: Health System Stability and Recovery, a five-point plan to provide the best care possible to patients and residents while ensuring the resources and supports are in place to keep the province and economy open.
- In 2020, the Ontario government released the Roadmap to Wellness supported by an investment of $3.8 billion over 10 years, with a vision of creating a mental health and addictions system where everyone has high-quality and easily accessible mental health and addictions support available to them throughout their lifetime.
“The Your Health plan is helping connect Ontarians with the care they need when they need it. As part of our plan, we’re providing long-term care residents with faster, more convenient access to diagnostics services. Starting with two pilot projects in Toronto and Barrie, we’re working to expand access to diagnostics services to residents across Ontario.”
– Paul Calandra
Minister of Long-Term Care
“As we continue to prioritize a strong health care workforce in the years ahead, expanding bold initiatives like the new Learn and Stay Grant will help train the next generation of health care workers to support communities with the greatest need. By providing targeted financial incentives to encourage students to learn and work in priority regions, the Learn and Stay Grant will ensure that our health care professionals get the training they need to make immediate impacts in their local communities. This is an historic investment in our students and in the future of our health care workforce in Ontario, and will be a game changer for communities across the province.”
– Jill Dunlop
Minister of Colleges and Universities
“Our One Stop Talk virtual walk-in counselling program is connecting children, youth, and their families with convenient and timely mental health services where and when they need them. Creating low-barrier services like One Stop Talk is an important foundational piece to the continuum of care we are building here in Ontario as outlined in the Road Map to Wellness.”
– Michael Tibollo
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
“It is time for renewal in our health system. Working with government and providers across the system, we are committed to building on what works and exploring innovative approaches to care that support a better connected and integrated care experience for patients and their families.”
– Matthew Anderson
President and CEO of Ontario Health
“The Minor Ailments program in Ontario is already having a positive impact. Since the launch of the program on January 1st, Ontario’s pharmacists have already helped more than 30,000 people get access to the care they need for minor ailments including UTIs, pink eye and cold sores. We commend the Ontario government for taking this important step to make care more convenient. Looking ahead we need to continue to leverage the expertise and training of pharmacy professionals to make care more accessible for Ontarians and to help take pressure off other areas of our health system.”
– Justin Bates
CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association
“Primary care is the foundation of our health care system and team-based primary care provides comprehensive services that Ontarians need. We are thrilled to see the new investment in team-based primary care including family health teams in today’s announcement and we look forward to working with the government and our primary care partners and providers across the province to expand access to team-based primary care.”
– Kavita Mehta
CEO of the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
“Spectrum Health Care welcomes the government’s ongoing commitment to improve access to care at home and to continue to invest in expanding home care as outlined in the plan released today. This will help keep patients out of hospital and allow them to access quality care where they want to receive it – in their homes. We are glad to see the future of home care prioritized by this government.”
– Sandra Ketchen
President and CEO of Spectrum Health Care
“Addictions and Mental Health Ontario is pleased that the Ontario government is investing in practical supports that will help millions of Ontarians connect with care who struggle with their mental health or substance use. This announcement will help to ensure that young people receive the necessary support they deserve and continue to build on the work of the Roadmap to Wellness in Ontario.”
– Alisha Tharani
CEO of Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
“The Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (OPSWA) is pleased to hear about the announcement today of the newest Ministry of Health initiative: “Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care.” This holistic and comprehensive approach will see the beginnings of a regulatory structure for front-line health care workers in Ontario. The Oversight Authority will embed professional respect for the Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Ontario and prepare the province for the promised 24,000 new PSWs with a structure being built to protect our patients. The OPSWA looks forward to continuing to work with this government toward the improvement of health care in this province.”
– Miranda Ferrier
CEO of the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association
“Creating practice ready assessments for internationally trained physicians means we could have more doctors working in Ontario by this summer, seeing patients who may not have a doctor, catching up on the pandemic backlog of care and helping to relieve the strain on the health-care system. The OMA looks forward to supporting and mentoring these new physicians.”
– Allan O’Dette
CEO of the Ontario Medical Association
“We are pleased the government’s plan includes measures to further integrate the health-care system, which Ontario’s doctors have been recommending in our Prescription for Ontario. We believe that every patient should have access to a family doctor and a team of health-care providers. Family doctors and team-based care are critical components of an effective health-care system. We look forward to working with the government to improve patient access to care.”
– Dr. Rose Zacharias
President of the Ontario Medical Association
“Home Care Ontario applauds the government for recognizing the critical role home care plays in Ontario’s health system. Today’s plan says it best – ‘The only thing better than having care close to home, is having care in your home.’ Now is the time to put those words into action. The government can capitalize on its historic investments by fast tracking funding to home care in order to stabilize and grow the sector.”
– Sue VanderBent
CEO of Home Care Ontario
“We are pleased to see the Ontario government recognize the important role of family doctors and primary care in our health system. The actions taken in this plan will improve local primary care planning, access to team-based care, and will support the training and development of more family physicians in Ontario. These are aligned with recommendations from our plan of action, Solutions for Today: Ensuring every Ontarian has Access to a Family Doctor. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to working closely with the government to ensure all Ontarians have timely access to a family doctor.”
– Dr. Mekalai Kumanan
President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians
“The Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) is grateful to the Government of Ontario and the Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, for the initiatives included in the “Your Health” plan to better leverage Nurse Practitioners in Ontario. There are more than a dozen communities seeking to have a Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic to improve access to care for patients. Nurse Practitioners will play a critical role for an efficient and effective healthcare system in Ontario. Initiatives to train more Nurse Practitioners to deliver patient-centered care is valuable and needed for Ontarians. Ontario needs more Nurse Practitioners.”
– Dana Cooper
Executive Director of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario
“As the health care system recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and civil emergency, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) thanks the Government of Ontario for its strong, ongoing support of Ontario’s hospitals. After almost three years of grappling with a once-in-a-century public health crisis, on behalf of Ontario’s hospitals the OHA is grateful for the new investments, resources and policies that are helping to strengthen our province’s health care system. During the pandemic, Ontario’s hospitals rose to every challenge in service of the people of Ontario. In its aftermath, hospitals will continue to lead and work closely with the government and our other partners, to overcome the challenges facing our health system, reduce wait times and improve access to care for patients.”
– Anthony Dale
President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association
“Children’s Mental Health Ontario is very appreciative of all investments in the child and youth mental health sector, one that has been historically underfunded. We look forward to the continued implementation of the Roadmap to Wellness, and the required new investments to stabilize the system, that will eventually maximize its capacity to meet the needs of Ontario’s children, youth and their families.”
– Tatum Wilson
CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario
“The OAPC supports investments and programs that help put less pressure on emergency departments and get paramedics back on the road providing care in the community as quickly as possible. We welcome the announcement of $23.1 million to expand dedicated offload nurses and healthcare workers in hospitals in places where we didn’t have access to these supports. We also welcome programs that ensure patients get the care they need without having to go to a hospital. These are positive changes that put patients first and allow paramedics, with our healthcare partners, provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”
– Mike Sanderson
President of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs
“We appreciate the government’s ongoing commitment to the Roadmap to Wellness: a plan to build Ontario’s mental health and addictions system. These program-based investments in the mental health and addictions sector allow us to reach different populations and those in need.”
– Camille Quenneville
CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario
“OnPharm-United, and the over 600 independent pharmacies we represent across Ontario, are excited to see the progress being made on increasing access to care. The Government of Ontario’s announcement earlier this year to allow pharmacists to assess and prescribe treatment for 13 minor health ailments has already been a game changer. We applaud the government’s diligence for finding innovative ways to improve our health care system and for keeping pharmacy as part of the solution. We look forward to continued collaboration to give Ontarians faster and more convenient care.”
– Sherif Guorgui
Co-CEO of OnPharm-United
“Home and community care is a vital component of our health system. We are encouraged that Ontario acknowledges long term strategies and sustainable funding are necessary for home and community support to create an integrated health system that ensures Ontarians receive services and live where they want to, in their home and communities.”
– Deborah Simon
CEO of the Ontario Community Support Association
“The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario applauds the government’s recognition of the critical role that Ontario laboratories play in our health system. This investment will bolster the number of Medical Laboratory Technologists, who interpret testing and provide physicians with the information needed to diagnose and treat patients. This support will result in better healthcare for all Ontarians.”
– Michelle Hoad
CEO of the Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario
“PAs in Ontario and across Canada applaud this important announcement today. This is the first increase to the number of training spots in a decade. This announcement will bring more PAs to hospitals, EDs, surgical suites and to communities without access to a family doctor.”
– Kevin Dickson
President of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants
“RNAO is thrilled the government heeded our advice and is funding additional nursing seats: 1,000 RNs, 500 RPNs and 150 NPs, starting in 2023-2024. We are pleased funding will be tied to innovative baccalaureate nursing programs including second entry, compressed programs, and RPN to BScN bridging programs as per RNAO’s Nursing Through Crisis report. Applications to BScN and NP programs are higher than ever. To retain new graduates, competitive compensation and appropriate workloads are a must. Nurses are key to strengthen our health system. Too many Ontarians lack access to primary care and we urge Premier Ford to move aggressively to expand Nurse Practitioner led-clinics (NPLC) and deliver on RN prescribing.”
– Dr. Doris Grinspun
CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
“The Ontario Occupational Health Nurses Association (OOHNA) and the over 350 occupational health nurses we represent across Ontario applaud today’s announcement by the government to address head-on the challenges we face when it comes to our Health Human Resources. Nursing is a calling, but many are experiencing a whole host of challenges. These measures announced today will help with the retention and recruitment of nurses, and OOHNA will continue to support collaborate initiatives going forward that help to retain and recruit nurses to Ontario.”
– Lina Di Carlo
Executive Director of the Ontario Occupational Health Nurses Association
“We applaud the Government’s newly announced strategies to accelerate access to healthcare services, providing an important foundation for addressing current health system challenges while fostering equitable care and services for all Ontarians. The province’s successful implementation of access to minor ailments services through community pharmacies is a shining example of providing care close to home. We look forward to continued partnership with the Government to further develop pharmacies as community health hubs providing convenient and accessible care to Ontarians.”
– Sandra Hanna
Chief Executive Officer of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada
- Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care
- Ontario Connecting Long-Term Care Home Residents to More Diagnostic Services
- Ontario Expanding Mental Health Services for Children and Youth in Every Corner of the Province
- Ontario Expanding Learn and Stay Grant to Train More Health Care Workers
- New “As of Right” Rules a First in Canada to Attract More Health Care Workers to Ontario
- Ontario Reducing Wait Times for Surgeries and Procedures
- Pharmacists Now Treating Thirteen Common Ailments and Renewing Prescriptions for Most Medications
Minister Jones’ Office
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