Ontario merges 20 health agencies into one super agency
Ross Lopes & Kateryna Horina
Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott announced on Tuesday of the creation of a super agency that will merge all of the province’s Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and combine six provincial health care agencies to provide better service for patients.
“It will be a single and harmonized home for programs and operations of existing provincial agencies,” Elliott said. “I, along with Premier Ford, and our entire government ran on a commitment to end hallway health care. It is a commitment that we take very seriously.”
Ontario Health Teams will be created to deal with primary care, home care and mental health care coordination from top to bottom in the new agency called Ontario Health.
The umbrella agency is set to bring the best of the health-care system together to enable collaboration, bringing resources together to improve other programs and to bring consistency to patients.
“Our system is in need of transformational change. Ontarians want their elected officials to put down their polling and finally pick up the mantle of health care leadership in Ontario,” she said.
“We are past the point of policy tinkering around the edges that simply shifts capacity problems from one end of the system to the other.”
Over the last five years, Ontario has spent 30 per cent more than the Canadian average on administrative expenses on it’s health care system and the average wait times to get into a long term care home has ballooned to over 300 per cent since 2003, Elliott said.
“Patients families and caregivers experience frequent gaps in care and have to reiterate their health concerns over and over again because of a lack of digital tools and care continuity for health care providers,” Elliott said. “The fact is that the value of our healthcare system is locked in silos.”
Forty per cent of the government’s budget is spent on health care, and Elliott said their primary objective is to strengthen the system.
“The goal of this has always been the patient,” she said.
During the news conference, Elliott was asked repeatedly about lay off jobs, and evaded the question, saying “that is something that we can’t answer right now.”
She did admit “it is true that the agency is going to take over the administrative functions for the LHINs and the six agencies that are being consolidated into that agency, but that’s what we’re referring to is that back-office service.”
Ontario Health will begin to take shape this spring and will be a long term process.
“It’s going to take time to bring these agencies together and to form a new and more effective organization,” she said. “But this I do know. It’s the right thing to do.”
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