Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Care Coalition has concerns about Bill 175. It would restructure home and community care under the umbrella of the provincial health teams.
"How is it going to work in northern Ontario, where there are these large populations spread out over huge geography that have unique service needs," she said.
Coalition members include: seniors and community groups, patient advocates, unions and health professionals.
The All Nations Health Team was approved by the province last year, with the promise of providing more local autonomy over services and service delivery. However, the unions involved aren't convinced it's all good news.
"What is clear, is that there will be no public oversight. So, if things are wrong, or if they don't go well, there will be very little recourse," Mehra added.
With the sparse population, and the unique needs of Indigenous communities, the health care coalition believes private companies won't be very interested in providing services, as there won't be much opportunity for profit.
Colleen Neil chairs the working group for homecare and community care at the All Nations Health Team. She says they're working with service providers and the Ministry of Health, in an effort to assess services that are available and what gaps need filling. Neil added they're working with municipalities and First Nations, with local oversight a key issue.
From their perspective, the Ministry of Health is providing an extension for health team members, in order to make additional comments. Neil said the ministry had already been made aware of valid concerns expressed by health team partners.
"We are breaking down long-standing barriers that have separated home care from primary care and, in doing so, allowing for the seamless coordination of services for patients, while maintaining and strengthening oversight and accountability measures," said Health Minister Christine Elliott, when she announced the bill in February.
"By moving home and community care out of administrative siloes and into Ontario Health Teams, patients will receive the home care they need as quickly and conveniently as possible, without having to tell their story over and over," said Elliott, in a prepared statement.
"As we make these thoughtful but long overdue changes, there will be no disruptions in patient care," the deputy premier stated.
This year, Ontario is investing an additional $155 million more to expand frontline home and community care services.
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