The Ontario government has repackaged a number of previous health-care announcements and added some new elements in announcing Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care. The plan focuses on providing people with a better health care experience by connecting them to more convenient options closer to home while shortening wait times for key services across the province and growing the health care workforce for years to come.
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. The program is designed to increase coordination between the various health care providers and to divert as much as possible use of Emergency Rooms and hospital stays.
Key initiatives in the plan include the following:
Pillar One: The Right Care in the Right Place
- The previously announced expansion of the role of pharmacists. As of January 1, 2023, pharmacists have been able to prescribe medications for 13 common ailments. 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.
- adding eight additional Youth Wellness Hubs to the 14 that are already operating across the province. The hubs connect youth to mental health and substance use support, primary care, and social services.
- 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
- investing more than $18 million in existing non hospital surgical centres to provide 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.
- Providing paramedics more flexibility to treat people who call 9-1-1 at home or on scene in the community rather than in emergency rooms.
- A re-announcement: Building almost 60,000 new and upgraded long-term care beds to help address wait lists for long-term care. 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
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 was announced for Brampton.
Expanding the Learn and Stay grant that helps 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.
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