This Week at Queen’s Park
by Jim McDonell
This week, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Christine Elliott, delivered the Government’s long-term plan to fix and strengthen the public health care system by focusing directly on the needs of Ontario’s patients, families, and caregivers. Our government’s plan will break down barriers to better patient care and build a renewed, connected and sustainable health care system that will reduce hallway health care by focusing resources on patient needs.
In this comprehensive and ambitious legislation, Minister Elliott introduces key measures to serve Ontarians better. Today’s health care system is on life-support where patients are forgotten on waiting lists, and more than 1,000 patients are receiving care in hallways every day. It is facing capacity pressures, and it does not have the right mix of services, beds, or digital tools to be ready for a growing and rapidly aging population with more complex care needs.
To solve these issues, our legislation will build a public health care system centered around the patient and redirect money to front-line services to improve patient experience and provide better and connected care. We envision a public health care system where family doctors, hospitals, and home and community care providers work in unison as a team to create a seamless care experience for the patient and their families. A system where patients are supported when transitioning from one health care service to another and that truly puts the patient at the centre of care, where and when it’s needed.
It establishes Ontario Health Teams, which will better facilitate the treatment of patients. When health providers are asked to partner to work together as one connected team, care will be better integrated. Health care providers will be accountable for the patients they serve and will partner to effectively coordinate their care. These teams will bring together all services to provide more consistency in our health-care resources 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Second, it creates Ontario Health, an umbrella organization that will streamline the important work of current health agencies, which unfortunately duplicate many services, so they can perform more effectively and collaboratively, provide more value for tax dollars and enable people to work together instead of separately.
Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, continued to go through second reading debate this week. It seeks to eliminate red tape and burdensome regulations, allowing businesses to prosper all across Ontario. If passed, it will cut business costs, harmonize regulatory requirements with other jurisdictions, end duplication, and reduce barriers to investment.
Important government legislation also continued to move forward.
Bill 68, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, entered Second Reading this week. This new legislation will strengthen trust between police and the public. Bill 68 is an essential component for better policing and would ensure police are treated with fairness and respect while enhancing oversight and improving governance, training, and transparency.
As March break swiftly approaches, many local families plan to take advantage of the week to visit attractions in the Toronto area. I encourage travellers to utilize the GO Transit now that Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek has announced there will be free ridership on GO Transit from March 9 onwards for residents under 12 years of age.