Dear Party Leaders:
Re: Ontario’s Health Care System
The Council on Aging of Ottawa (COA) recognizes that Ontario’s health care system is in crisis. The issues are complex and systemic shortcomings have developed over many years. To fix the problems a coordinated response is required. The health continuum of care: primary care, home and community care services, acute care hospitals, long-term care (LTC) homes, and human resource capacity all need attention and a systematic response. Bill 7 “More Beds and Better Care Act”, along with the Alternative Level of Care (ALC) issue, has generated much debate. The ALC issue highlights that there is a need for urgent and sustained efforts to address the shortcomings in our healthcare system. Innovative solutions and investments in capacity development are required.
With regard to hospital capacity, the lack of acute care beds in Ontario is well known. Canada has one of the lowest acute care capacities of all the OECD countries, and Ontario is the province with one of the lowest Canadian acute care capacities. It is not surprising that ALC patients are being moved out, that surgeries are being delayed, and wait times in Emergency departments are at unacceptably high levels.
The COA recognizes that, for patients with an ALC designation, a hospital environment is not an ideal placement. Moreover, COA believes that elderly patients should have the opportunity to be transitioned from a hospital setting to an adequate alternate setting when acute care is no longer required and when the patient has been clinically discharged. The fact is, even with Senior Friendly care at hospitals, the chance of developing delirium or loss of mobility is high. However, the resources of long-term care facilities are already stretched, and the proposed changes will adversely impact seniors.
During the pandemic, some hospitals were able to create transitional care. These customized off-site models of care that specifically support the geriatric population, which may include recreational and behavioural therapies are proven models that support better care. These transitional models are innovative, and capacity needs to continue to be created and funded.
As the hospital sector and LTC sector work together to implement Bill 7 it is important to ensure that implementation is done with compassion, collaboration, ethical and equitable considerations, and the patient’s best interests at heart.
Beyond Bill 7, the systemic issues in our health care system that continue to need urgent attention include:
- Lack of access to primary care physicians;
- Wait times for home care to enable choice and aging in place;
- Inadequate health, social and rehabilitation services in the community;
- Health staff compensation that recognizes and values their contributions; and
- Increased capacity in the LTC sector managed by nonprofit or not-for-profit entities.
Thank you for reading our letter and concerns and considering our ideas.
Hon. Doug Ford, Premier
Hon. Peter Tabuns, Leader of the Official Opposition
Hon. John Fraser, Interim Liberal Leader of Ontario
Hon. Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario
Hon. Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care
Hon. Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health
Hon. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services