Ford government to create new super agency, Ontario Health

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Debra Cooper Burger, interim administrator for Fairvern Nursing Home in Huntsville, said the long-term care home was anxious to learn more about the provincial government's plans for strengthening the health-care system, especially related to long-term care and seniors' care.

The legislation is being introduced at Queen's Park this afternoon and details are expected to follow.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott's announcement of a new health "super agency" to marshal how healthcare money is spent is the biggest change to the sector in decades, but it may take several years before the changes trickle down to the patients.

Healthcare reform has become a political flashpoint in #onpoli, ever since the opposition NDP obtained and leaked a draft version of the bill, arguing that it indicated secret plans to privatize healthcare.

"That is something we can't answer right now because of the fact that it is going to be up to the local Ontario health teams to structure the care that's going to be needed in that local area", said Elliott when pressed by reporters Tuesday morning.

North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN financial responsibilities include the transfer of roughly $960 million through service accountability agreements to 61 health-service providers, plus home and community care, across Muskoka and parts of Simcoe and Grey counties.

Anthony Dale, the CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, said a broader view of the health-care system will help address overcrowding and help break down barriers that exist between care providers in the health-care system. Before the Liberal government established the LHINs in 2006, there were smaller organizations governing health care across Ontario.

It will combine 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and merge them with six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario.

Bureaucrats said they aren't in a rush to dissolve LHINs because they co-ordinate care for numerous province's most complex patients. 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). "I think we have to look at this as a rearrangement, but rearranged around the patient", she said.

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The teams would be responsible for delivering all of the care for their patients and connecting them to services.

But Elliott would not say how many jobs could be lost during the reorganization.

Ontario has world-class health care services provided by some of the best health care workers.

"We are leaving Ontarians behind because our system is disconnected", she said.

But one theme that could be gleaned was that this was about amalgamating healthcare services under an all-encompassing super-agency, Ontario Health, and the 30-50 Ontario Health Teams it expects to manage that are either local networks of healthcare provision or have a province-wide specialized focus, such as the frail elderly or children with fragile medical conditions. They'll be funded by the province and held accountable for improving patient experience and health outcomes, the ministry said in a statement.

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. Most co-ordinate home care.

Care providers will also benefit from the expansion of digital tools, enabling them to more quickly and comprehensively access the information they need, such as specialist advice and clinical supports. "This creates confusion for both patients and providers trying to navigate the health care system".

To get health care support, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000 or toll free TTY at 1-866-797-0007.

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