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February 01, 2024
$110 million investment brings the province one step closer to connecting everyone in Ontario to primary care
PETERBOROUGH — The Ontario government is investing $110 million to connect up to 328,000 people to primary care teams, bringing the province one step closer to connecting everyone in Ontario to primary care.
“Our government is making record investments to ensure that everyone that wants to have a primary care provider can connect to one,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While there is more work to do, giving hundreds of thousands of more Ontarians the opportunity to connect to primary care brings us that much closer to this goal.”
Ontario currently leads the country with 90 per cent of people connected to a regular health care provider. As a next step to close the gap for the 1.3 million people not connected to primary care, the government is making a record investment of $90 million to add over 400 new primary care providers as part of 78 new and expanded interprofessional primary care teams. In addition to other historic investments to expand medical school spots and efforts to break down barriers so highly-skilled internationally-trained doctors can care for people in Ontario, Ministry of Health modelling shows that these initiatives will help connect up to 98 per cent of people in Ontario to primary care in the next several years.
Interprofessional primary care teams connect people to a range of health professionals that work together under one roof, including doctors, nurse practitioners, registered and practical nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and dietitians, among others. Timely access to primary care helps people stay healthier for longer with faster diagnosis and treatment, as well as more consistent support managing their day-to-day health while relieving pressures on emergency departments and walk-in clinics.
An additional $20 million will provide a boost to all existing interprofessional primary care teams to help them meet increased operational costs for their facilities and supplies so that they continue to provide high-quality care to the people they provide care to.
In Peterborough, more than $3 million in funding will allow the newly established Peterborough Community Health Centre to connect up to 11,375 people to primary care. Programs and services will include comprehensive primary care, mental health services, and chronic disease management. The inclusion of culturally appropriate care provided by traditional wellness practitioners will be an important part of the centre which will also serve as a hub for coordinating social services, home care and working with health care and Indigenous partners in the community.
Another example is in Kingston where more than $4 million in funding will help up to 10,000 people connect to team-based primary care at the Periwinkle model site. The team will be part of the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Ontario Health Team (FLA-OHT) and will integrate with hospitals, and community agencies to provide care to perinatal patients, newborns, and people who have been discharged from hospital and require timely follow-up care, including cancer patients.
Since the launch of Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care one year ago, the government has been making steady progress to ensure the health care system has become better equipped to respond to the needs of patients and provide them with the right care in the right place, faster access to services and access to an expanded health care workforce.
“I am very pleased that the government is making this investment in primary care. The funding of a Community Health Centre will bring huge gains to our community and the significant provincial investment will deliver positive returns benefitting the entire healthcare system.”
– Duff Sprague
CEO, Peterborough Family Health Team
“This funding announcement is great news for the people of Ontario. We know that provinces built with strong systems of primary care will offer people the best health outcomes, at the most affordable public cost, providing care that is both equitable and accessible. Today’s news moves us one big step closer to the dream of ensuring that every person in Ontario will have a primary care home.”
– Dr. Jane Philpott
Dean, Queen’s Health Sciences
“Family doctors are the foundation of our health-care system. Every Ontarian, no matter where they live, should have access to a doctor and a well-co-ordinated health-care team supporting them when and where they need it. This is an important step towards that goal.”
– Dr. Andrew Park
“The OMA has been advocating for increased investments in teams to improve access to care and ensure doctors and health professions are able to do what they do best, care for patients. There are benefits to team-based care for both patients and providers so our goal is to get every Ontarian access. This announcement to triple the original funding plan is a significant move in the right direction.”
– Kimberly Moran
“The expansion of primary care, and – in particular the enhanced utilization of NP expertise alongside RN prescribing – will unlock timely, safe and quality care for Ontarians. Better care and health outcomes also lead to lower system costs – a win for Ontarians as patients and as taxpayers. We are pleased that the government is demonstrating commitment to publicly-funded, team-based primary care, which will begin transforming the health system for all and especially for marginalized and vulnerable populations.”
– Dr. Doris Grinspun, RN, O.ONT
CEO, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
“The Ontario Hospital Association thanks the Government of Ontario for making new investments in primary health care teams, which will improve access to high-quality primary care and address some of the capacity pressures on hospitals by keeping more Ontarians well and less likely to require hospitalization. Demand for health care services is expected to rise dramatically in the years ahead as Ontario’s population grows and ages. Continued investments in all areas of health care services are needed to allow care to be delivered in the most appropriate setting and in the most cost-effective manner. We look forward to continued collaboration and innovation with the province and our health system partners to ensure that Ontario’s health care system is prepared to meet the future demands that will be placed upon it.”
– Anthony Dale
President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association
“Today’s announcement to expand and grow access to teams of health care providers will ensure that more Ontarians can get the right care, from the right provider, while adding needed support for family doctors. The Ontario College of Family Physicians has been advocating for expanded team-based care in this province, and today’s announcement is a positive step forward. We look forward to continuing to work with the Ontario government to ensure that every Ontarian has access to a family physician.”
– Dr. Mekalai Kumanan
President, Ontario College of Family Physicians
“Increasing and expanding interprofessional primary care teams will provide more people access to primary care, which is critical for a stable and high-functioning health system. This expansion is an important step in advancing our goal of a more connected and coordinated health system in Ontario.”
– Matthew Anderson
President and CEO, Ontario Health
“The announcement made today by the Government of Ontario is historic. The expansion of interprofessional team-based care is a critical step to addressing access to primary health care and realizing the government’s vision of connected and convenient care. This is an important step towards positioning primary health care as the foundation of the health system. We are thrilled with the investment in a new Community Health Centre in Peterborough and the new Periwinkle-Union Street team, as we know these primary health care models will provide much needed care to people who face the most barriers to access. We want to thank the government for the increased operational support for existing teams. This helps our members keep the doors open for their communities, by ensuring they can pay the rent, and keep the lights on.”
– Sarah Hobbs
CEO, Alliance for Healthier Communities
“The Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) is thrilled by the recent announcement from the Ontario Ministry of Health regarding the allocation of additional funding towards expanding interprofessional primary care and existing programs. This is a significant investment that will support Nurse Practitioners, as integral healthcare team members, in ensuring Ontarians receive the high-quality, timely care they deserve. NPAO looks forward to continuing to work with the Ministry of Health to advance our shared goals of comprehensive and accessible healthcare delivery.”
– Dr. Michelle Acorn, CEO of NPAO and Barbara Bailey, President of NPAO
“We commend the government of Ontario for further investing in interprofessional team-based primary care across Ontario. These projects are going to be critical to ensure more Ontarians have access to primary care teams that can provide the wraparound services we know result in better outcomes and faster access to care. This is an important step in building upon the comprehensive programs offered through team-based primary care and expanding these teams as the foundation of Ontario’s health care system.”
– Leslie Sorensen
CEO, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
“This is a great step in the right direction, and we are thankful for the investment into the integrated primary healthcare sector. By targeting underserved groups and areas, this historic investment will help tackle issues around access to interprofessional primary care and the IPHCC looks forward to partnering with new and existing agencies. We are also thrilled that this investment includes supports for operational facilities and supplies, and most importantly includes provisions for culturally appropriate care provided by Indigenous traditional practitioners.”
– Caroline Lidstone-Jones
CEO, Indigenous Primary Health Care Council
“On behalf of the Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association, I extend heartfelt gratitude to the provincial government for their visionary commitment to primary care. The allocation of $90 million towards the expansion of interprofessional care teams is a testament of their dedication to fostering comprehensive, patient-centered care. This commitment will reduce barriers for underserved communities and improve access for unattached patients, particularly those in marginalized or vulnerable populations. Additionally, the wise decision to invest an additional $20 million in supporting the operational pressures faced by existing primary care teams exemplifies a deep understanding of the challenges our primary healthcare teams navigate daily. This significant financial support not only empowers us to broaden the reach of collaborative care but also fortifies the foundations of our existing teams. I commend the provincial government for prioritizing the well-being of our communities. Together, we are charting a course towards a more resilient, inclusive, and connected healthcare system.”
– Teresa Wetselaar
Chair, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association
“As part of Your Health, the government is making sure seniors waiting for long-term care as well as current long-term care residents get the right care in the right place. We’re providing community paramedicine to support them in their own homes, increasing diagnostic services in long-term care homes to reduce avoidable hospital visits, adding specialized care to look after people with dementia and training tens of thousands of long-term care staff to care for residents over the coming years.”
– Stan Cho
Minister of Long-Term Care
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