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

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The system transformation, including establishing local health teams to co-ordinate care, will take years, Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

"With safeguards in place, of course, to protect information, patients would have an opportunity to securely access digital health services, such as making online appointments, talking to a specialist virtually, or having access to your own electronic health records", said Elliott. "That is just wrong".

The move could displace or transfer thousands of employees in the LHINs, or agencies such as Cancer Care Ontario or Health Quality Ontario, but senior government officials speaking on background could not say when or if anyone would a lose or even how many people work for all the impacted agencies.

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

The entire process will be seamlessly phased in to ensure that Ontarians can continue to contact their health care providers as usual throughout the transition process.

"I think we have to look at this as a rearrangement, but rearranged around the patient, " she said. "This is not a financial exercise". The LHIN's now manage funds for hospitals, long-term care homes and community health centres.

"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". Nothing's going to change that way. Almost 9,000 people work at the 14 LHINs, including care co-ordinators. We want to make sure that we can amplify those home care numbers. "So in the end... it will work out".

The government intends to introduce legislation that would, if passed, support the establishment of local Ontario Health Teams that connect health care providers and services around patients and families and integrate multiple existing provincial agencies into a single health agency - Ontario Health.

And so, she said, the not-for-profit home was eager to discuss opportunities for more long-term care beds for the area, beyond the 20 additional beds already included as part of the home's ongoing multimillion-dollar redevelopment project.

The teams would be responsible for delivering all of the care for their patients and connecting them to services. Elliott expects 30 to 50 teams to be created, each serving as many as 300,000 patients.

Kevin Smith, the president of the University Health Network in Toronto, was enthusiastic about putting local teams in charge of health care. Marie is prompting a delegation to travel to the Philippines this month to try and recruit men and women interested in being trained in the health-care position and work in the city.

The NDP has warned that language in the draft bill allows for greater privatization in the health system.

Family doctors are well-positioned to help patients navigate the system and have a first-hand understanding of the ways health care delivery could be improved, Young said.

Chris Young/CANADIAN PRESSOntario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath scrums with reporters in Oshawa, Ont. on February 14, 2019.

Bob Bell, Ontario's former deputy health minister, said the Progressive Conservative government is taking a big risk, especially considering that the health-team model is relatively untested.

Currently, home care receives only five per cent of the "proportional health-care spend" in Ontario, about $2.7 billion out of a $54-billion budget, VanderBent said. Patients would experience easy transitions from one health provider to another (for example, between hospitals and home care providers, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan).

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