Bill to improve access to health care reintroduced

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Trillium Health Centre

Ontario has  reintroduced the Patients First Act, 2016 that would, if passed, improve access to health care for patients and their families.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said: “Ontario is committed to a health care system that truly puts patients first. This means faster access to primary care for patients no matter where they live, and a system that will be there for generations to come. Thank you to the thousands of Ontarians who provided valuable input into creating this important legislation. Together we will continue to improve Ontario’s health care system so it remains one of the best in the world.”

The proposed legislation would increase access to care with better coordination and continuity, and bring a greater focus on culturally and linguistically appropriate services. This includes:

  • Giving Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) an expanded role in improving and integrating planning and delivery of front-line health care services, directing more funding to patient care within the existing system.
  • Improving access to primary care for patients, such as a single number to call when they need health information or advice on where to find a new family doctor or nurse practitioner close to home.
  • Improving local connections and communication between family doctors, nurse practitioners, inter-professional health care teams, hospitals, and home and community care to ensure a smoother patient experience.
  • Ensuring that patients only have to tell their story once, by enabling health care providers to share and update their health care plans.
  • Providing better patient transitions between acute, primary, home and community, mental health and addictions, and long-term care.
  • Improving consistency of home and communit y care across the province.
  • Strengthening health planning and accountability by monitoring performance and outcomes.
  • Establishing a formal relationship between LHINs and local boards of health, to ensure local communities have a stronger voice in health planning.
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First Nations

The government said that Ontario will continue working with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners and health providers to ensure their voices are heard, in particular with respect to equitable access to services that meet their unique needs.

“Ontario will honour its commitment to meaningfully engage Indigenous partners through a parallel process that will collaboratively identify the requirements necessary to achieve responsive and transformative change. Ontario is also committed to ensuring that any proposed changes will not negatively impact their current or future access to care. The reintroduction of the Patients First Act is part of Ontario’s commitment to reintroduce all government bills that were before the legislature in spring 2016, so that debate on important issues may continue,” the statement said.

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Over the past several months, the government has consulted with stakeholders from across the sector, including doctors and hospitals. This legislation includes proposed amendments based on the feedback that the government has received.

  • 94 per cent of Ontarians now have a primary health care provider. Through the work of the Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, Ontario is committed to connecting a family doctor or nurse practitioner to everyone who wants one.
  • Investments in home and community care are up 90 per cent over the past decade.
  • The ministry consulted and engaged extensively in English and French with more than 6,000 individuals and organizations across the province to help inform the proposed improvements to the health care system.
  • LHINs plan, integrate and fund local health care, improving access and patient experience.
  • If passed, the new legislation would amend the Local Health System Integration Act and the Home Care and Community Services Act, among other statutes.
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