The Ontario government has introduced the next phase of its health care action plan. Patients First: Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care was first released in 2012 and outlinedhow the province would increase access to better and more coordinated care, and ensure the health care system was sustainable.
The next phase of the plan makes several commitments in terms of mental health and addictions services, including expanding programs that focus on the prevention of mental health and addition issues. It also seeks to expand proven programs in schools and workplaces, invest more to improve access to community care, and reduce wait times for mental health services.
More generally, this new phase of Patients First focuses on four main goals:
1. Access: Providing patients with faster access to the right care, including:
- Faster access to appointments with primary care providers and specialists
- Ensuring that every Ontarian who wants one has a primary care provider
- Increased investments and shorter wait times for mental health services, including housing and employment supports to help people with their recovery
2. Connect: Connecting people with the services they need to receive better coordinated and more integrated care in the community, closer to home, including:
- More nursing, personal support, home-making and rehabilitation therapy services
- Expanded use of technology and telemedicine, particularly in rural and remote communities
- Improved and better coordinated end-of-life care
- Improved dementia supports, including new memory clinics
3. Inform: Providing people with the education, information and transparency they need to make the right decisions about their health, including:
- Additional measures to discourage harmful smoking behaviour and proposed legislation to require restaurants to post calorie information on menus
- New online resources to help people prevent illness, including a tool that assesses cancer risk and provides a personalized prevention plan
- Expanded patient engagement and consultation across the health care system
4. Protect: Protecting our universal public health care system for generations to come, ensuring that decisions are based on value and quality, including:
- Best-in-class public reporting in areas like wait times, public drug programs and mental health to measure how the health system is performing, improve transparency and shine a light on where improvements are necessary
- A new Patient Ombudsman to resolve complaints and ensure that the system is always focused on patients’ needs
To read the full Action Plan or for more information go to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website.