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Shortening wait times for key health services Province's plan

Part of the plan is to provide paramedics more flexibility to treat people who call 9-1-1 at home or on the scene in the community rather than in emergency rooms
The new-look North Bay Ambulance

The Ontario government today released Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care.

It hopes to provide more convenient options closer to home while shortening wait times for key health services whole growing the healthcare workforce.

"The status quo isn’t working,” said Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health. 

But Ontario NDP Health critic, France Gélinas, says its just a continued push to privatize health care.
"Ontarians shouldn't be fooled - when Minister Jones says ‘innovation,' she means privatization. The Ford government created a crisis in our healthcare system by grossly underfunding it, capping workers' wages, and driving healthcare professionals out of the system. 
"Giving private, for-profit clinics freedom to offer health care services will mean that those who can afford to pay will get better, faster care while everyone else will be forced to wait longer. Privatization will further drive away nurses and doctors from our public system.

The plan lays initiatives under three pillars: The Right Care in the Right Place, Faster Access to Care, and Hiring More Health Care Workers.

Some parts are being implemented immediately while others will take time:

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.
  • 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 healthcare 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

  • Providing paramedics more flexibility to treat people who call 9-1-1 at home or on the 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

Pillar Three: Hiring More Health Care Workers

  • Adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years.
  • 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 healthcare 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.