PETERBOROUGH-The Ontario government says it is investing millions to connect up to 328,000 people to primary care teams.
“Our government is making record investments to ensure that everyone that wants to have a primary care provider can connect to one,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While there is more work to do, giving hundreds of thousands of more Ontarians the opportunity to connect to primary care brings us that much closer to this goal.”
According to the province, Ontario currently leads the country with 90 per cent of people connected to a regular health care provider. As a next step to close the gap for the 1.3 million people not connected to primary care, the government says it is making an investment of $90 million to add over 400 new primary care providers as part of 78 new and expanded interprofessional primary care teams.
Officials say this is in addition to efforts to expand medical school spots and break down barriers so highly-skilled internationally-trained doctors can care for people in Ontario.
Interprofessional primary care teams connect people to a range of health professionals that work together under one roof, including doctors, nurse practitioners, registered and practical nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and dietitians, among others. Timely access to primary care helps people stay healthier for longer with faster diagnosis and treatment, as well as more consistent support managing their day-to-day health while relieving pressures on emergency departments and walk-in clinics.
The Ontario Medical Association says the measures are “as usefull as an umbrella in a hurricane”.
“It is hard not to be disappointed by this announcement given its sheer inadequacy,” says Dr. David Barber, Chair of the Section on General and Family Practice of the Ontario Medical Association. “Family doctors have been shouting from the rooftops for months that we need real change in the system in order to make sure it doesn’t collapse. This funding is just another small band-aid solution that doesn’t do anything to get to the root of the problem. Family doctors need to be at the centre of health teams and must be invited to partner with government in developing solutions,” he said.
An additional $20 million will provide a boost to all existing interprofessional primary care teams to help them meet increased operational costs for their facilities and supplies according to the province.
In Peterborough, more than $3 million in reported funding will allow the newly established Peterborough Community Health Centre to connect up to 11,375 people to primary care. Programs and services will include comprehensive primary care, mental health services, and chronic disease management. The province says the inclusion of culturally appropriate care provided by traditional wellness practitioners will be an important part of the centre which will also serve as a hub for coordinating social services, home care and working with health care and Indigenous partners in the community.
There’s no word on any additional funding for Kawartha Lakes.