Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care
Ontario government connecting people to convenient care, close to home
NEWS February 2, 2023
WATERLOO REGION — The Ontario government today released Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care. The plan focuses on providing people with a better healthcare experience by connecting them to more convenient options closer to home while shortening wait times for key services across the province and growing the healthcare workforce for years to come.
“Our government continues to take action to ensure that all Ontarians, including the residents of Waterloo Region, have access to the healthcare they need in their communities so they can be closer to home and their loved ones,” said Mike Harris, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga. “Our plan for connected and convenient care is building on our efforts to strengthen Ontario’s public health care system, ensuring it is there for patients and families for generations to come.”
“When it comes to your health and the health of all Ontarians, the status quo isn’t working,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As we put our bold plan into action, you will be connected to care when you need it most and where it’s most convenient, whether that’s closer to home in your community or even at home.”
The plan lays out a broad series of initiatives under three pillars: The Right Care in the Right Place, Faster Access to Care and Hiring More Health Care Workers. Designed to work together and work for people, these pillars will deliver connected and convenient care in hospital emergency rooms, in community settings like pharmacies and community organizations and doctors’ offices, in long-term care homes and through care delivered right at home.
Key initiatives in the plan include the following, some of which are being implemented immediately as the province takes action to address pressing issues, while other changes will take time but are still important to improving the care people receive:
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.
- Making it faster and easier for youth to connect to mental health and substance use support, primary care, social services and more by adding eight additional Youth Wellness Hubs to the 14 that are already operating across the province.
- 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 health care 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
- procedures by further leveraging the support of community surgical and diagnostic centres to eliminate surgical backlogs and reduce wait times. This includes investing more than $18 million in existing centres to cover care for thousands of patients, including more than 49,000 hours of MRI and CT scans, 4,800 cataract surgeries, 900 other ophthalmic surgeries, 1,000 minimally invasive gynecological surgeries and 2,845 plastic surgeries.
- 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. This is in addition to the more than 3,500 hospital beds added across the province in the last three years to ensure access to hospital care when it is needed.
Pillar Three: Hiring More Health Care Workers
- Moving forward with the largest medical school education expansion in more than a decade by adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions over the next five years. This expansion includes the new Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Medicine that recently found its new home in Brampton.
- 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 health care 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.
Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care will put Ontarians back in charge of their health, making it easier to navigate care at every stage of their life, providing more ways to receive care closer to home, and ensuring that people will be able to get the care they need faster, when it can have the greatest impact to their health.
- Ontario is investing $300 million in 2022/23 as part of the surgical recovery strategy to increase scheduled surgeries and procedures, as well as diagnostic imaging with a focus on areas with the greatest reduction in services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Across the province, 54 Ontario Health Teams are working to improve transitions between health providers and to make sure a patient’s medical record follows them wherever they go for care.They are also focused on embedding home care and primary care services so that care can be provided at home or in the community.
- In 2022, the Ontario government introduced its Plan to Stay Open: Health System Stability and Recovery, a five-point plan to provide the best care possible to patients and residents while ensuring the resources and supports are in place to keep the province and economy open.
- In 2020, the Ontario government released the Roadmap to Wellness supported by an investment of $3.8 billion over 10 years, with a vision of creating a mental health and addictions system where everyone has high-quality and easily accessible mental health and addictions support available to them throughout their lifetime.
“The Your Health plan is helping connect Ontarians with the care they need when they need it. As part of our plan, we’re providing long-term care residents with faster, more convenient access to diagnostics services. Starting with two pilot projects in Toronto and Barrie, we’re working to expand access to diagnostics services to residents across Ontario.”
- Paul Calandra
Minister of Long-Term Care
“As we continue to prioritize a strong health care workforce in the years ahead, expanding bold initiatives like the new Learn and Stay Grant will help train the next generation of health care workers to support communities with the greatest need. By providing targeted financial incentives to encourage students to learn and work in priority regions, the Learn and Stay Grant will ensure that our health care professionals get the training they need to make immediate impacts in their local communities. This is an historic investment in our students and in the future of our health care workforce in Ontario, and will be a game changer for communities across the province.”
- Jill Dunlop
Minister of Colleges and Universities
“Our One Stop Talk virtual walk-in counselling program is connecting children, youth, and their families with convenient and timely mental health services where and when they need them. Creating low-barrier services like One Stop Talk is an important foundational piece to the continuum of care we are building here in Ontario as outlined in the Road Map to Wellness.”
- Michael Tibollo
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
“It is time for renewal in our health system. Working with government and providers across the system, we are committed to building on what works and exploring innovative approaches to care that support a better, connected and integrated care experience for patients and their families.”
- Matthew Anderson
President & CEO of Ontario Health