March 1 is the deadline for written submissions to the Ontario Human Rights Review. All Ontarians, especially individuals who have used the services of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), are encouraged to participate in the review process.
The purpose of the “Drummond Report” (so-named after the TD economist who led the Commission), was to recommend public sector cuts that would provide greater service efficiencies while providing fiscal balance by 2017/2018 and eliminating the potential for greater fiscal deficits. In so doing, the Commission Report proposed over 300 recommendations for system-wide enhancements that would eliminate or redesign programs no longer serving their intended purpose; eliminate areas of overlap and duplication; and provide greater return on public investments in the public sector. The 20-chapter report claims that a small proportion of patients with complex needs account for a high proportion of overall health system costs and emphasizes that preventing ill health and controlling chronic diseases is crucial to moving forward.
On January 30, 2012 the Ontario government announced its Action Plan aimed at transforming the health care system, address the demographic challenges in the province, and manage the deficit.
The Ontario government recently announced that it has saved an additional $100 million in new savings with the provincial drug system reforms. The reforms, launched in 2006, are saving the province $500 million annually; this year an additional $100 million will be saved.
People undergoing treatment for drug addictions will soon have access to free counseling supports, nicotine gum and patches to help them quit smoking. Over the next three years, the Ontario government will work with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to support approximately 23,000 smokers undergoing addictions treatment across Ontario.
The Social Assistance Review Commission, appointed by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, has released the second of three reports on possibilities for a transformed social assistance system. This second paper presents a variety of options in five key areas, reflecting community consultations held in summer and fall 2011. A companion document, summarizing Ontarians’ responses to the first paper, is also included in this release.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and the newly formed Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport are now welcoming applications to the 2012-2013 Healthy Communities Fund (HCF) Grant Program. The HCF grants program, now in its fourth year, provides non-capital, project-based seed funding to organizations across Ontario to deliver integrated health promotion programming in communities where it is needed.
January 23 is the deadline to make a request to present at a public meeting for the Ontario Human Rights Review.
In September 2011, the Government of Canada introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act (Bill C-10). According to a press release by the Department of Justice Canada, this Bill proposes various amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada, including provisions to “increase the mandatory minimum penalties for nine existing offences to better reflect the serious nature of these offences, as well as to bring greater consistency in sentencing in these cases.” This Bill passed the House of Commons on December 5th, and had the First Reading in the Senate on December 6th.
The third annual progress card on poverty reduction has been released by the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction. In its report, “Common Ground: A Strategy for Moving Forward on Poverty Reduction”, the Network observes that the Ontario government has made strides towards its goal of a 25 per cent reduction in child poverty by 2013, however it will need to increase its efforts in order to achieve it.