Ontario Health Minister Launches ‘Action’ Plan For Transforming Health Care System

 A Foreword by Doug Draper

 Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews used a talk before the Toronto Board of Trade this January 30 to announce the launch of a new “action plan” for transforming the province’s health care system for the future.

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews

The action plan, according to a brief Niagara At Large received from a spokesperson for the health minister, is aimed at dealing with such challenges as the demands the province’s aging population will place on the system and the province’s deficit, while at the same time “ensuring families get the best health care where and when they need it.”

“Health care remains a priority for Ontarians and that is why the government has invested 61 per cent more in health care since 2003,” states a media release the provincial government circulated following Matthews’ January 30 talk. “The government is committed to maintaining its investment in health care to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

The release goes on to state that “If we are to continue improving the quality of patient care and access to care, we will have to shift spending within health care to get better value for our health dollars.”

 In her address to the Board of Trade, Matthews had this to say; “We can’t keep spending our health dollars the way we used to. If we don’t change, we simply won’t be able to guarantee sustainable universal public health care for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. That’s why our Action Plan will get better value for our health dollars and put patients first.”

 The Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide citizens group, criticized Matthews and the province’s Liberal government for developing and launching the action plan without any public input. The coalition also expressed concern that the plan will lead to significant cuts to health care.

“In the past, governments have issued “White Papers” prior to major policy changes,” noted the group’s director Natalie Mehra in a media release the Ontario Health Coalition issued after Matthews’ talk. “There was opportunity for public input and proper legislative debate. Policy changes (such as health reform) are supposed to be created by legislation, with public hearings and healthy public debate. The McGuinty government has sidestepped all of these processes with the Drummond Commission and this launch of new health reform. Moreover, the government’s messaging is manipulative, sidetracking from the major cuts they are planning.”

 The coalition’s media release went on to predict that “major cuts are coming and the government has not revealed what these cuts will be. Media are not asking the questions — i.e. how many hospital beds are they targeting for closure; will they be closing rural emergency departments; how much worse will the 24,000 person wait list for long-term care homes get; how can they claim that home care will take all these hospital patients when there are already 10,000 people on wait lists and care is more strictly rationed than ever?”

Niagara At Large is posting below complete copies of the government’s January 30 media release, along with a summary on the health care action plan for our readers’ information

  Ontario’s Action Plan To Transform Health Care

McGuinty Government Providing The Right Care, At The Right Time, In The Right Place


January 30, 2012

 Ontario is launching an Action Plan to transform the health care system and deal with the demographic challenges as well as the province’s deficit. 

 The Action Plan for Health Care in Ontario will ensure families get the best health care where and when they need it, while ensuring all Ontarians get better value for their health dollars.

 The Plan will:

  •  make the necessary and responsible decisions regarding funding priorities and ensure funding is shifted to where we get the best value
  • provide new measures to prevent illness in the first place and to help Ontarians stay healthy
  • give Ontarians better access to family doctors and nurse practitioners — through after hours care and same-day and next-day appointments — that will save Ontarians time, keep them healthier, and help them avoid trips to hospital
  • support Ontario’s seniors who want to live independently at home, in their communities, by providing more home care supports.

 To achieve these goals, Ontario will bring planning for family health care under the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) — ensuring that patients will have a more seamless experience in the local health care system from their family doctor to hospitals and improving the quality of care that seniors receive at home. Ontario will also seek to move more routine procedures into specialized not-for-profit clinics in instances where it’s clear that these clinics can provide patients with safe, high-quality care at better value.

 The Action Plan for Health Care in Ontario builds upon the significant progress that has been made in improving Ontario’s health care system since 2003 and is the next step in the McGuinty government’s plan to protect health care for our children and grandchildren.


 “We can’t keep spending our health dollars the way we used to. If we don’t change, we simply won’t be able to guarantee sustainable universal public health care for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. That’s why our Action Plan will get better value for our health dollars and put patients first.”

— Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care


 The government is committed to maintaining its investment in health care to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

  • The number of seniors in Ontario will increase by 43 per cent over the next decade.
  • At current spending levels, the senior population is projected to cost Ontario $24 billion more annually by 2030 — 50 per cent more than today.
  • In 2010/11, over 271,000 emergency room visits were made to Ontario hospitals that could have been treated in alternative primary care settings.  
  • In 2009, there were 140,000 unplanned instances of patients re-admitted to hospital within a month of their original discharge.


 Read the full Action Plan.

 For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)

 Ontario’s Health Care Action Plan

January 30, 2012

 Since 2003, Ontario has made significant progress in improving health care for families.  To protect those gains, deal with the demographic challenges as well as the province’s deficit, Ontario is launching an Action Plan to transform our health care system.

The Action Plan for Health Care in Ontario will ensure families get the best health care where and when they need it, while ensuring all Ontarians get better value for their health dollars.

Better value for health care dollars

Health care remains a priority for Ontarians and that is why the government has invested 61 per cent more in health care since 2003.  The government is committed to maintaining its investment in health care to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

If we are to continue improving the quality of patient care and access to care, we will have to shift spending within health care to get better value for our health dollars. 

The Action Plan includes measures to:

  •  Integrate planning for primary care into the LHINs which will allow for better coordination of patient care, reducing the need for hospital readmissions by improving the quality of care that seniors receive in their homes.
  • Move more routine procedures into specialized not-for-profit clinics when better care and better value can be provided.
  • Adopt a more patient-centred funding model, where funding is based on the services provided, to allow funding to follow patients as they move through the health care system, lowering costs while improving the quality of patient care.
  • Shift resources into home care which will reduce on the number of Alternative Level of Care patients in hospitals and ease pressure on long-term care homes.
  • Provide faster access to family health care through after hours care and same-day or next-day appointments which will mean fewer visits to hospital Emergency Rooms
  • Accelerate Health Quality Ontario’s work to pay for quality patient-care practices backed by evidence.  This year, evidence-based fee changes will save $125 million.
  • Continue progress on drug reforms. Past drug reforms have saved $500 million annually plus another $100 million this year.
  • Reduce childhood obesity to lower the rate of life-long chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease
  • Combat smoking to reduce the $1.9 billion a year in health costs connected with tobacco-related diseases
  • Increase cancer screening rates to detect cancer earlier and reduce the need for treatment.

 Action Plan priorities are:

1)  Keeping Ontarians Healthy — When Ontarians lead healthy and active lives, the better it is for their well-being and the less it costs to provide care. The government will focus on providing tools and other supports to help people take an active role in healthy living and wellness.

 2.   Faster Access to Stronger Family Health Care — When patients have faster access to family health care they are able to stay healthier, get connected to the right care, and are less likely to require care in a hospital. 

 3.    Access to the Right Care, at the Right Time, in the Right Place — When patients receive timely access to the most appropriate care in the most appropriate place, they get better care for better value. 

   (We welcome you to share your views on this post. Please remember that we only post comments by people willing to share their real first and last names.)




20 responses to “Ontario Health Minister Launches ‘Action’ Plan For Transforming Health Care System

  1. Either the Minister or one of her communications people haven’t checked budget documents or they’d see that the claim of increasing health care spending by 61 percent since 2003 ranks up there with the “I didn’t have sex with that woman” claim Bill Clinton famously made. Budget documents from 2001-02 show that the Ontario government was spending 46 cents of every dollar on health care; in 2011-12, they’re spending 42 cents of every dollar on health care. I used to think Tory math was bad, but Liberal math is even worse.
    That squabble aside, there is no doubt Matthews is planning cuts to health care. The trial balloon last week about not funding C-sections is just the tip of the iceberg. What will be very interesting is how tough they are with the doctors during negotiations this year. If they’re expecting patients to cope with cuts, I would only think it’s fair that doctors also cope with cuts. But something tells me it won’t work out that way.


  2. Here we go again. The same old, same old story, being told by the Minister of Health. Is it because she does not listen to what is going on in Niagara, or is it just that she does not care, or, is it because the Premier does not want to admit they made a mistake?
    When the M.O.H. appointed Dr. Kevin Smith to come to the NHS to try to fix the broken HIP program, we thought that she just might be listening, but it is obvious now that it is not the case. She appears to be suffering from a hearing disorder, or is it just memory retention that is not there?
    How could she pattern LHINS across Ontario by what has already taken place in Niagara? The HIP plan was a plan for disaster and we are living with the consequences. Dr. Smith has ended the HIP and is trying to move along to right the wrongs made by the former NHS hierarchy, yet Deb Matthews continues to tout the mantra “right care, at the right time, in the right place” Dream on!
    If that is correct why do so many residents of Niagara have to wait too long for the right care and end up with cancer that has grown until inoperable, or have to wait months for chemo or radiation treatments?
    Why are our hospitals not the safe clean facilities they once were known to be and is it because of staff cuts to save money?
    Why do so many residents have to wait months for MRIs that might have given them a fair chance?
    Why are there so many re-admissions after discharge? Could it not be because they were sent home too quickly because of the bed cuts?
    The never ending story.


  3. Deb Matthews, want’s to put doctors under the scrutiny of the LHINS.the problem is a shortage of doctors, at the St, Catharines hospitals, my grandson and spouse to be, waited, 3 years ago this coming March for over 23 hours not getting to see a doctor, 12 hours at St,Catharines General and 11-1/2 hours at Hotel Dieu, where a still born baby was born in the womens wash room.I am tied of the crap coming out of the mouths of these so called health ministers. Dalton has tp go ASAP.


  4. Stop electing these idiots – Dump the party system – they are so well protected they dont care what you think – Plain and simple


  5. Does this mean that our hospitals are being run by and controlled by the government?


  6. If these people spent as much time figuring out how to really improve our health system instead of how to craft the spin they’re feeding us we might have something worthy. I like Mr Noles point about the math. Things really don’t add up. I would think a 62% increase in spending would equal something close to a 62% increase in services…We all know that isn’t the case, in fact we may have a 62% decrease in services on our hands. This annoucement gives me no reason to think things will change for the better. More likely spending cuts will reign and things will get worse.
    Where’s the accountability we’ve been promised?


  7. Don’t put anything else under those LHINs. This release by the Minister is code for cuts. Just watch for more services to be de-listed or longer waits for those of us that do not have private insurance.


  8. Joy is right on all counts.”The LHINs will ensure, blah,blah,blah” Thet don’t work and they know it. “If we don’t change we simply won’t be able to guarantee sustainable public health care, blah, blah, blah”.
    Do we need more evidence as to what I said on Mr. Haskell’s blog? The gov’t is destroying the system on purpose because the insurance company lobbyists want their grips on 30+ million Canadians to make another gazillion dollars. Of course Mr. Haskell has interjected his anti universal health care ideas again while, in fact, the government is privately owned by big corporations. This means government = corporations. They are not responsible to US, they are responsible to big business. The politicians are only puppets. This is exactly why our system is failing us now, not because it is “government” controlled but rather because the government is becoming “corporation” controlled.


  9. Dear Linda Mckellar,
    Could you please point out were I interjected any anti universal health care ideas AGAIN?
    Perhaps you should consider the ongoing rhetoric on Niagara at Large. Let’s see, Niagara, Ontario’s Broken Hospital System Needs Fixing Now and Hey Mr. Premier, Where Is The Openness On the Niagara Health System. Or Where Is Ontario’s Ombudsman On The Niagara Health System? And then there is an article asking if It’s Time For Divorce From NHS. These are just the headlines! I’m more in agreement with those that realize that change is necessary as oppose to the very stupid rhetoric of bomb throwers.
    Does Mr. William Snyder have you pegged right? Mr. Snyder says that you should be careful with your choice of words. And just to be fare Mr. Snyder did not intimate that you are stupid. He sated that felt that you obviously do not understand the free enterprise system.
    I disagree with Mr. Snyder. I think that you do understand the free enterprise system and that you will do anything and say anything in an attempt to destroy it.
    I can’t help but wonder if you would be so rabid if the government was socialist and under the control of unions?
    Keeping to my point, it is up to ALL OF US AS VOTERS AND FREE CITIZENS to hold these pompous political patricians accountable to the citizens of Canada and never to any special interest group.
    Linda Mckellar, you are far too liberal with the truth. It damages you credibility.


  10. Mr Haskell. “Dear” is condescending. Please refrain from its usage.
    The implication from your previous article was that anything government does could be better managed by private enterprise. Health care is a facet of government spending is it not? This is why I mentioned it and you yourself did so here today. You brought it up by saying, sarcatically by its tone, “Does this mean that our hospitals are controlled by the government?” You know they are. As I said, I spent 40 years on the inside observing the deterioration of the system. I KNOW more about that system than you do or ever will. Sorry, just fact. The reason for the deterioration is government cutbacks designed to pave the way for privatized health care at the expense of the sick for the benefit of wealthy insurance companies. As I also said in your blog, can you explain the difference in cost ($14.000 vs $62.000) for identical surgeries? I can. It’s called private, for profit enterprise. Anyone who is so against public health care should put their principles first, cross the border and pay for the supposedly superior care provided by private interests.
    Also, if you care to look at my comments yeasterday on your topic, I said both private enterprise and public services must be balanced so neither can go berserk. Does this sound like I am against private enterprise? Definitely not. I am for a balance of factors and we as voters must be vigilant to maintain that balance. Boy! Do I sound like a Commie or what? Stop jumping to conclusions until you reread yesterday’s comments on your topic. As for someone having me pegged, again I find that very insulting. Perhaps I have you pegged. I do understand free enterprise, agin you are insulting me. As for pompous politicians, should we compare them with the likes of the Koch Brothers? These politicians do what they want because we the public have allowed it. We the public have also allowed some unions to overstep their bounds. Like I said IT’S ABOUT BALANCE and public vigilance.


  11. By the way…When did Wm Snyder have me pegged? He never mentioned either myself OR my understanding of free enterprise. His comment was only very brief.


  12. Dear Linda McKellar,
    Since you asked please check out: William Snyder | July 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Reply
    You say that I insulted you but if you read the article carefully you will notice that it was Mr. Snyder that stated that he felt that you obviously do not understand the free enterprise system. You will also notice that I disagreed with Mr. Snyder. So there you go again, bending the truth. At no time did I say that the private sector can do anything better than the Government. What I did say is as follows: ‘If there is a reason to have just one thing from the private sector it has got to be to contract a private management company to replace government’s failed management team under the watchful scrutiny of responsible elected officials and with serious consequences for corruption’. This quote referred to government as a whole with nothing to do with health care.
    My comment: ‘Does this mean that our hospitals are controlled by the government?’ was aimed at someone who made the claim that our hospitals are private and independent because they had a board of directors. This I responded to at the time.
    I do use our health system because I believe in our medical staff. However just like you and so many others I have lost faith in management.
    You make unsubstantiated claims about our health care compared to that in the U.S. I bow to your superior knowledge but I have to mention that many people would and have died waiting for the ‘less expensive Ontario option’ instead of crossing the border to get immediate help.
    Many of us can relate health care horror stories.
    My point has always been and will continue to be that our government management team is failing us and in the case of health care they are particularly incompetent as indicated by the many posts right here on NAL. You say that you ‘spent 40 years on the inside observing the deterioration of the system’ therefore you are stating the same opinion.
    Your last 3 sentences accurately make my point but please get a grip!


  13. My god?! You are referring to something from July!!! Boy, you should hear about the stupid thing I said in 1956!!!
    As for private management, cost cutting efforts have resulted in outsourcing in some areas of hospital care eg housekeeping (fewer, poorly trained, cheaper staff resulting in filthy conditions and Cdiff among other infections), many lab tests formerly done on site now done elsewhere (longer waits for results often to the detriment of the patient’s outcome and resulting in longer tie-ups of beds). I am glad you still have faith in our health care system, as do I but it is becoming less accessible and the care is not as good due to cutbacks intended to save money. How about saving money by not buying useless second hand exploding subs and jet fighters. People’s lives are more valuable than any of those things. Of course that is government mismanagement, I agree completely. The problem is, private enterprise will also make cutbacks to become what they call efficient ie make a profit for their shareholders. That is their job and they do it well but it also accounts for the immense disparity in costs of health care between our system and places like the US. I can relate even more US horror stories than the few that occur in our country. My claims re US health care areNOT “unsubstantiated”. I gave you a specific example re my two cousins who had IDENTICAL surgery so if you consider that unsubstantiated, you are delusional indeed. After calling my example “unsubstantiated” you cay you “bow to my superior knowledge”. Again, it is hard not to detect just a wee bit of sarcasm there.
    I know you have stated that you are not against “Universl” health care but rather against government controlled health care. I agree to the degree that gov’t control as it currently exists is not serving us and it breaks my heart to see my profession dragged down to some kind of maid service. I loved and cared about my patients more than I did about my working conditions but the working conditions and our inability to do our job well due to cutbacks, rules and roadblocks thrown at us stressful to the point of being unbearable. As I have said several times, it is not the fact that the gov’t is running the system but that the gov’t is not running it in our interests and that is OUR fault, all of us. That is why discussions like this are so necessary. I do not feel, however that private enterprise in this one area will be an improvement because, if it must make profit, more shortcuts will be made and we’ve had enough already. Instead of this stupid bickering between us personally and others in general, we must unite (OMG does that sound like a union) and defeat the divide and conquer tactics used against us to improve what we both know is an inefficient and deteriorating system.


  14. Dear Linda McKellar,
    You said that you know more about health care than I ever will. I bowed to you superior Knowledge and you take this as ‘Sarcasm’. You said that the courtesy of addressing my response to you as ‘Dear Linda McKellar’ is ‘condescending’. Do you have a problem or are you just argumentative?


  15. Dear Linda McKellar,
    You are getting better Linda but again you’ve got it wrong. I am NOT against Universal Health care! It is becoming apparent and interesting that some of those inside of our bureaucratically run government hospitals are projecting absolute terror that a private and competitor hospital just might shed some light on our hospital system debacle. The Ontario Government pays according to a definite scale. If a privately run hospital can compete and even return profit on equity within the Ontario guidelines then what’s the problem. Before you go off half-cocked again, please not that I am not suggesting that privately run Hospitals are a solution. I’m just trying to understand the psychology behind the vitriol!
    You’re not happy with the status-quo yet you rail against any new ideas, new suggestions, or attempts to improve our health care system unless it protects your preferred situation.
    I believe that this NAL offers perhaps the best venue of give and take on issues that has ever been presented to us as concerned citizens. Let’s not waste it.


  16. Yes sweet Mr Haskell I do have a problem. You perpetually use passive /aggressive bullying tactics. You say you “bow to my superior knowledge” and in the same breath say I have “unsubstantiated claims”. That IS sarcasm pure and simple and you bloody well know it and it is perhaps done unconsciously but I suspect consciously as a provocation. “Dear” is condescending because I am not your dear and a word not commonly used on this site. I also stated, if you care to reread my posting, that I am aware you are NOT against Universal health care but simply against the government running it. Perhaps if you were not so vitriolic in your eagerness to slam all of my comments you would have realized that. I do not plan to go off “half cocked”….another insult. Even the title of your own blog was sarcastic, something to the effect of “isn’t government just wonderful” Perhaps this is you usual mode of conversing and, if so, I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it offensive. I do intend to “get a grip” as you rudely stated because the tactics of a bully such as you appear to be are simply to keep shouting down everyone else with the false belief that they will go away.
    Perhaps others on NAL can make cogent suggestions and conduct civil discourse in an atmosphere of cooperation to solve the problems confronting us all rather than imposing their views to the exclusion of others.
    not intend to argue further with a bully whose tactics are simply to drown ut


  17. Hey Linda and Preston – You have both made some good points and you’ve both said a few things I don’t fully agree with, and that is okay.
    One of the things this site is about is bringing people with diverse views together for robust discussions and debates on the issues of the day. But please try to start taking it easy on each because I’m sure I’m not the only who is reading the back and forth and beginning to feel like we are having a bad time with the inlaws at Thanksgiving.
    As I started out saying, both of you have had important points to contributed to the conservations on Niagara at Large, and it might be nice to get back to the issues at hand and declare a truce on the more personal stuff. How bout it?

    Doug Draper, publisher, NAL


  18. Totally agree Doug. A truce is definitely in order and well over due. I offer my sincere apology for what may be construed as any personal attacks and for posting excessively on this topic. I’ll try not to be a bad “in-law” in the future. Thank you for your patience and for having this forum where all can discuss these important issues. Peace. Over and out!


  19. Just a few points.

    1. Privatized health care creates HUGE bureaucracies.
    2. Privatized health care enriches huge companies to the detriment of the 99.
    3. Privatized health care is inefficient
    4. I suspect our current governments are intentionally creating these health care crises so that they can implement further privatization.
    5. Socialism IS NOT a bad word, even though greedy, totalitarian corporations would have us believe so.
    6. Unions, a hallmark of democracy, have an important societal role to play that helps to ward off exploitation of the people. Corporations don’t like this, but then corporations aren’t necessarily keen on democracy either.
    7. Our current tar-soaked government is in thrall of an economic system that is not working satisfactorily here or in Europe.
    8. Governments that enable the Caterpillars of the world, cuts to OAS, and KYOTO failures, should feel shame.
    9. “Predatory” capitalism, the version that we are currently “enjoying”, weakens our democracy,and our economy. Militarism, and jingoism.
    don’t help either.
    No name-calling please, and large caps aren’t necessary either.


  20. Mark is right on the mark, I am in full agreement with his point of view of the system we now have in place,the health system should serve the people not the bureauxcrats that loot our health tax dollars.we pay for it, we should have a voice in this crazy delivery of healthcare.the system is mugging the taxpayers and running off with huge bonuses, last year a guy at E-Health got nearly 1 million dollars and did not work one day.the pigs are stuffing themselves with our health dollars, while Ontario’s sick and dying are given the boot at Niagaras Hospital system. why should we put up with this outrage called NHS.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.