Ontario families to get better access to primary care

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New funding will help in recruitment of staff

 Ontario families will soon get improved access to primary care. The Ontario Government is helping to recruit and retain more non-physician primary health care professionals including nurse practitioners, social workers and registered dietitians.

The province said in an announcement that it  is supporting 445 primary care organizations across Ontario, such as community health centres, nurse practitioner-led clinics, family health teams, Aboriginal Health Access Centres and nursing stations that serve nearly four million people in Ontario. This funding will allow organizations to better attract and retain non-physician health care professionals to serve more Ontario families, including in high-needs and remote communities.

 Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said: “This important investment addresses an imbalance in compensation among health providers in primary care teams. Our government is committed to supporting these workers and improving timely access to primary care for Ontarians no matter where they live.

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Meeting a vision

Doris Grinspun, CEO, Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, said:  “This funding will provide nurse practitioners and registered nurses who work in primary care with their first pay raise in 10 years, which we have long advocated for. Today’s announcement addresses their right to fair pay and will help the government meet its vision to transform the health system and have more care provided in communities closer to home.”

  • The government is providing $22.2 million this year, and $31.7 million in each of the next two years, fulfilling a 2016 Budget commitment to provide up to $85 million over the next three years to support interprofessional primary care organizations.
  • The funding recipients include Ontario’s 184 family health teams, 75 community health centres, 25 nurse practitioner-led clinics, 10 Aboriginal Health Access Centres and a range of programs such as nursing stations and primary care nurse practitioners serving rural and northern communities.
  • These organizations employ close to 5,000 interdisciplinary health providers such as nurse practitioners, social workers, nurses, dietitians, occupational therapists, and health promoters and approximately 2,000 administrative staff (medical secretaries, receptionists, and volunteer coordinators). They provide a wide range of primary care services that support the care provided by family doctors and nurse practitioners.
  • The new funding is retroactive to April 1, 2016.
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Increasing access to primary care is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come, the announcement said.

Adrianna Tetley, CEO, Association of Ontario Health Centres, said: “We are heartened that the government is taking a step in the right direction by providing much-needed support to interprofessional primary health care providers. This funding is crucial to enable Ontario to do a better job ensuring people who face barriers to health can access the services they need from interprofessional teams.” – CINEWS

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