Sports & Health

Governments vow to improve health care

On the heels of the federal government’s announcement that it’s increasing health funding to provinces and territories, the provincial government announced plans to connect people to “convenient” care at home and in their community.

The federal government acknowledged that Canada’s universal public health care system “hasn’t been living up to expectations” and that health care workers are under “enormous strain” and promised to increase funding by $196.1 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding.

“Canadians deserve better health care and we need immediate actions to address current and future challenges,” Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said at the announcement on February 7. The new funding includes an immediate, unconditional $2-billion Canada Health Transfer top-up to address immediate pressures on the health care system, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.

“These investments will support those actions so that people have timely access to family health services and that we have less people waiting for treatments, diagnosis, and surgeries, and more mental health and substance use services across the country, Duclos said. He also recognized the need to work together to collect, share and use health information to “strengthen and improve the delivery of health care while continuing to support our health care workers.”

The provincial government, meanwhile, says it will continue to prioritize making it easier for people to connect to the care they need as part of Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care. Delivering care at home frees up more space in hospitals, long-term care homes and doctors’ offices, it says.

“The only thing better than having care close to home is having care in your own home,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We’ve heard loud and clear that you and your family want better and faster access to home care services and our investments will provide you more choice to connect to convenient care in your own home and in your community, instead of in a hospital or long-term care home.”

Last year, the government invested $1 billion to expand the delivery of home and community care services. From more caregiver supports and respite services, bereavement and behavioural programs to assisted living services for people with brain injuries, work is underway to provide faster and more convenient access to the care they need, it reports.

The province says it’s also working with Ontario Health Teams and home and community care providers to create “new and innovative programs” for people wanting to connect to care at home, including more virtual care options and connecting home care services with other care providers, such as a family doctor, to ensure personal medical records follow people as they move between care providers.

Under its expanded community paramedicine program, already in place in 55 communities, paramedics can provide home visits to people living with chronic health conditions for services that include providing assessments and referrals to local community care services, such as home care. Finally, Ontario will expand palliative care services by adding 23 new hospice beds to the 500 beds already in place across the province.

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