Health care in Ontario is, quite rightly, one of the services we cherish most. We’re proud of our universally accessible system, and even prouder of the dedicated and talented health care professionals who provide it.
But despite our pride, most Ontarians know our system is coming under increasing strain and are anxious about how we can sustain it into the future. On one hand, we can’t continue to spend an additional 6-8% annually on health care, but on the other, we know our system will come under increasing demographic strain over the next decade.
As policymakers, we have three options to deal with this dilemma: raise taxes, cut services or innovate. I believe that Ontario’s best option is innovation. But what does innovation mean to us as Progressive Conservatives?
First, we believe it’s necessary to transition from a reactive model of care based on acute episodes of illness to a proactive model of care based on health promotion, prevention and chronic disease management.
More and more people are living with not one acute illness, but with multiple chronic conditions, like heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease. That’s not because our health care system has failed, but because it has succeeded. Fifty years ago, few people survived a chronic illness long enough to acquire multiple conditions. Today, our acute care system allows a person to live longer, which leads to more of the diseases that come with age, like diabetes, emphysema and Alzheimer’s.
But our health care system is not set up to provide the best care for people with multiple chronic conditions. We need to move from fragmented patient care to an integrated approach that provides comprehensive, holistic care to people with multiple conditions. We need to put patients and families at the centre of our health care system and ensure that all decisions are made with this in mind.
Second, the Ontario PC Caucus believes that mental health should be fully integrated into our health system. Currently, our system is so fragmented that treatment is provided or funded by 10 different ministries and delivered by over 900 different agencies. This uncoordinated system makes it difficult for Ontarians to find treatment when they need it most. The Ontario PC Party would make mental health a priority and build an accessible, coherent system that’s easy for individuals to navigate.
Finally, we would put greater priority on homecare by investing in personal support, physiotherapy and home nursing. Home care not only keeps us in better health by decreasing hospital visits and the risk of exposure to infections, it frees up hospital beds for surgery or treating acute conditions. A PC government would recognize that the best care – particularly for those with chronic conditions and seniors – is usually care delivered closest to home.
Ontario’s health system sits at a crossroads.
Budgetary and demographic pressures demand strategic investments today in order to deliver world class health care tomorrow. Our latest white paper has highlighted just a few paths Ontario can take to find valuable efficiencies, and deliver quality patient-centred care.
I encourage you to read all the ideas presented in our white paper, Paths to Prosperity: A Healthier Ontario, available here. We hope that the ideas presented in this white paper can start a meaningful health care discussion in Ontario, and look forward to hearing from you. You can contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 416-325-1331.
Click here to read “Paths to Prosperity: Patient Centered Health Care” To visit the Ontario PC Caucus White-Paper on Healthcare (September 2012)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Deputy Leader
Critic, Health & Long Term Care