Ontario’s Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care was released in 2015 and was the previous blue print for shaping the province’s health system transformation with an emphasis on ensuring a patient-centered approach to health care delivery throughout the province. There were four priorities of focus for this action plan. The government was committed to improving access, connecting services for more integrated and coordinated care, informing patients and people how to make the right decisions about their health, and protecting our universal public health care system by improving value and quality of care to sustain the system.
A major goal of this government’s transformation agenda for health was to make the health system more accountable for health outcomes. The Excellent Care for All Act (2010) established requirements for health care organizations, starting first with hospitals then into the community sector, to monitor the quality of care provided to their clients. Health Quality Ontario was also formed as an arm’s length government agency responsible for monitoring and reporting on health care system performance, creating evidence based standards of care, and supporting quality improvement efforts within health care service organizations across the province.
Furthermore, to enhance accountability and create a more integrated system, in 2005 the provincial government began restricting the provincial health care system into 14 regions called Local Health Integration Networks or LHINs, which are responsible for the day-to-day management of the health system, the funding and monitoring of the health system in their geographic area. By bringing planning and funding down to a more local level, the goal was to make the health system more accessible, easier to navigate, and more responsive to the needs of the people who live in the LHIN areas.
In June 2016, Ontario introduced new legislation, The Patients First Act, which gave the LHINs an expanded role in primary health care and home and community care, to continue to enhance the integration of services throughout the province.
Past Health transformation and mental health
Through system transformation has come increased awareness and investment in mental health and addictions services throughout Ontario. Through the previously discussed health system initiatives and strategies, mental health and addictions services and program gaps are becoming more and more prevalent as an unmet health need for Ontarians.
Because of this growing and recognized need to improve mental health and addictions within Ontario, the province developed a strategy specifically to address the growing gaps and needs of the mental health and addictions services across the province. Open Minds, Health Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy was launched in 2011 as a 10-year comprehensive approach to transforming the mental health and addictions system. The four guiding goals of the Strategy are as follows:
1. Improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians;
2. Create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities;
3. Identify mental health and addictions problems early and intervene;
4. Provide timely, high quality, integrated, person-directed health and other human services.