Strengthening Ontario’s health-care system — assessing our progress
What gets measured, gets done. In this progress report, the Ontario Medical Association outlines ways in which decision-makers have listened to doctors in the 18 months since we released Prescription for Ontario: Doctors’ 5-Point Plan for Better Health Care. This report also identifies the next most immediate priorities.
Our roadmap to improving patient access and strengthening system capacity landed in the fall of 2021. We were more than a year into the global COVID-19 pandemic and our health-care system was under siege.
Informed by the largest consultation in OMA’s history — including physician leaders, stakeholders, the business community and the public — the plan offered short- and longer-term solutions within five key priority areas:
- Reducing wait times and the backlog of services
- Expanding mental health and addiction services in the community
- Improving and expanding home care and other community care
- Strengthening public health and pandemic preparedness
- Giving every patient a team of health-care providers and linking them digitally
It also included a dozen specific solutions to address the unique health-care challenges in northern Ontario.
Where do we stand?
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“Our influence is being felt. Ontario’s doctors are building momentum and we need to keep it going” — John Bozzo and Dr. Andrew Park, CEO and president of the OMA, respectively.
Meaningful reform requires collaboration
Collaboration is key to improving Ontario’s health-care system. We are encouraged by the various levels of action taken by the provincial government — from committing funds, to expanding programs and introducing legislation — related to 51 of the OMA’s 87 recommendations.
Ontario’s Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, released in February 2023, responds to some of the foundational changes called for in our 2021 document and demonstrates that the government is listening to the collective voices of patients, doctors and other health-care providers and stakeholders.
Similarly, we appreciate the additional investments the federal government has made this year. Prescription for Ontario called on the Canadian government to increase its investment in Ontario’s health-care system to 35 per cent to help make the changes needed to give every Ontarian the health care they want and deserve.
Addressing the primary care crisis
Despite the progress, the cracks that were exposed during the last few years remain. The demand on our system is still beyond capacity and doctors are burning out just trying to keep up. Far too many patients do not have a family doctor. The profound health human resources challenges in northern Ontario are getting even worse. The lack of co-ordinated mental health and home care in the community is causing a strain in local emergency departments.
This is where we must begin to focus our attention now.
We must reduce the pressure on primary care, so that all Ontarians have a reliable entry point to the health-care system. We must also implement real solutions to physician burnout and one of its biggest causes — administrative burden. We must increase integrated care outside of hospitals.
Our influence is being felt. Ontario’s doctors are building momentum and we need to keep it going.
We will continue to consult members, stakeholders and the public about our most urgent priorities as we prepare to release new solutions in late fall to fix the crisis in primary care, address physician burnout and expand and integrate community-based care. In the meantime, we continue to work collaboratively with the government and health-care providers to ensure our vision for co-ordinated care from cradle to grave becomes a reality.John Bozzo, CEO, OMA
Dr. Andrew Park, president, OMA