MPP JOURNAL for the week of January 22, 2021


David Tilson, MPP Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey

Seniors Issues

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with the Caledon Senior's Council to discuss emerging and persisting concerns they have with health and long-term care. Representing senior's issues, as they have experienced in rural Ontario, the council raised a number of issues, personal experiences and concerns that are being voiced throughout our province. This meeting was extremely helpful not only in that I was able to listen to the concerns and suggestions from the group, but also because it gave me the opportunity to convey the initiatives that this government has introduced to reform and improve the future sustainability of long term care in Ontario.

Specifically of interest to the group I spoke with were the issues of primary care reform, homecare reform, long-term care and doctor shortages in rural communities. If I may I would like to reiterate the efforts of this government with respect to these four areas.

Health care reform is well underway in Ontario. Our reforms include a 50 per cent expansion of the largest home care program in the country, projects that provide 24-hour access to family doctors, the latest innovative technologies in Canada and efforts to recruit more doctors to rural communities.

Ontario has one of the most generous home care programs in the country. The Ontario government currently spends $1.5 billion annually on home care and community care services. From 1994/95 to 1999/00 funding for community services increased by 49 per cent; in home services funding increased by 56 per cent.
There are 43 Community Care Access Centres (CCAC's) across the province, offering support to Ontario residents who need community-based long-term health care. CCAC's coordinate access to homemaking, nursing, therapy and other services to people at home, as well as providing long-term facility placement and vital information to caregivers about the services and support available to their family and friends.

In 1996, the government began working with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) on new ways to provide patients with 24-hour, seven-day access to family doctors and other practitioners. Through this partnership in health care reform, over 200 doctors in seven communities across the province will ensure that health services are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week to more than 375,000 patients. Primary care reform was first introduced in Hamilton, Paris, Chatham, and the Kingston area. In September, 1999, Primary Care Networks were announced for three more communities-Ottawa, Parry Sound and Thunder Bay.

On a final note, the Ontario government has a number of programs in effect that aim to recruit physicians to rural communities. Through programs such as the Tuition Grant Initiative the government is offering free tuition to medical students willing to relocate and practice in an under-serviced area upon graduation. In addition, the number of community development officers has doubled from 3 to 6 to help under serviced areas recruit doctors to their communities. Funding is being provided for additional postgraduate training in Ontario to recruit back Canadian medical school graduates who have taken their postgraduate training in the United States, and require further training to meet Canadian requirements.

The reforms and initiatives of this government aim to affect sustainable improvements in the way that long-term care, home care and community care is provided. The concerns raised by the Caledon Seniors Council are important, but not unique to this group, they are on the minds of all Ontarians, and their provincial government as well.

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