The Ontario government is in the midst of making significant changes to the province’s health care system that build off of previous reforms, in an effort to create a more integrated system that provides higher quality of care to Ontarians through improved access and accountability.
CMHA Ontario is continuously monitoring changes in the health care system and their impact on people with mental health and addictions issues. As the health care system changes, we are committed to working to ensure that changes are in the best interest of the mental health of Ontarians.
Current System Transformation
In 2019, the government passed new legislation, the People’s Health Care Act, which supported the establishment of a new Crown agency, Ontario Health.
Ontario Health was mandated to take on the programs and operations of multiple health agency transfer partners, including Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, E-Health, Health Shared Services Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life, and Health Force Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency
Ontario Health aims to enable:
- Expansion of the current exceptional clinical guidance and quality improvement practices in existing agencies into other critical areas of the health care sector
- Application of current best-in-class models to parts of health care that have been historically left behind (such as mental health and addictions supports)
- Consistent oversight of high-quality health care delivery across Ontario, including a more efficient approach to coordinating services for patients and enabling innovation
- Advancement of digital first approaches to health care, such as virtual care, and improving the integration and efficiency of digital assets across the entire health system
- Clear accountability for monitoring and evaluating the quality of health care services, and providing clinical leadership, consistent clinical guidance, knowledge sharing, and support for providers
- Elimination of duplicative back office infrastructure and administration
People’s Health Care Act (2019), marked the reorganization of Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and their functions.
The legislation also gives authority to the minister to integrate the health system through integration orders to health service providers or integrated care delivery systems that are funded through Ontario Health. The minister is given the power to dissolve organizations, transfer assets, liabilities, such as agencies within an integrated care delivery system.
This legislation supports the establishment of Ontario Health Teams:
- Ontario Health Teams represent the organization of health care providers into coordinated teams that are focused on patients and specific local needs
- Ontario Health Teams aim to provide seamless access to various types of health services, including primary care, hospitals, home and community care, palliative care, residential long-term care, and mental health and addictions
- As Ontario Health Teams are fully established, Ontarians will continue to be able to choose who provides their care, and are expected to have even more care choices available through technology
- Ontario Health Teams are being established in phases across the province, and have already been utilized to enhance care during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Ontario Health Teams focus on existing local health care providers partnering or working together to provide coordinated care, or teams of providers serving a specialized patient population such as specialty pediatric or patients with complex health needs
- The teams are expected to provide patients, families, and caregivers help in navigating the public health care system 24/7 and aim to improve patient transitions from one health provider to another with one patient story, one patient record, and one care plan
- Ontario Health Teams will be rewarded for fiscal responsibility, such that any funding surpluses that result from efficiencies will be directed back into patient care provision
- The creation of Ontario Health Teams is relying on leadership already existing in the community, rather than dramatic change within existing health care providers
The provincial government:
- Has taken a long-term approach to health system transformation, with the entire process being phased in so that Ontarians can continue to contact their health care providers as usual throughout the transition
- Does not plan to change the central tenets of Ontario’s publicly funded health care system, and does not envision any additional privately delivered, for-profit care above what already exists
- Aims to spend money more efficiently in health care, rather than spend less money on health care overall
- Consulted with a range of stakeholders prior to the drafting of the legislation, and looked to other jurisdictions to determine what would work best for Ontario
- Expects that this legislation and its associated system transformation will lead to a rebalancing of roles in health care that will shift more individuals into front line roles
- Has no intention of dismantling agencies that focus on French language services and wants to ensure that the needs of all Franco-Ontarians are met
- Plans to implement safeguards to protect private information, so that patients can safely access online health services, including their personal record
To learn more about Ontario’s new plan for the mental health and addictions system, read Roadmap to wellness: a plan to build Ontario’s mental health and addictions system.