The current system of health care administration in Ontario is governed by the Health System Integration Act (“HSIA”) passed in 2006. The Act created fourteen (14) Local Health Integration Networks (“LHIN’”) each covering their own geographical portion of the province. Each LHIN had an Integrated Health Services Plan (“IHSP”). The Ministry responsible is the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

The goal of the Ministry in 2006 was a transformation of Ontario’s health care system to achieve their vision of a health care system that helps people stay healthy, delivers good care, and will be there and available for the long term. The motivation stemmed from an ongoing concern about the long term sustainability of a publicly-funded health care system. The simple fact was that while health care costs were always on the increase, the ability of the province to fund proper and adequate care from the available revenues was diminishing.

The plan then was to achieve this desired transformation through:

  • improving access to primary care;
  • reducing wait times for surgical and diagnostic procedures;
  • developing an information management system, including a readily available e-health record;
  • the creation of the LHIN’s.

The thrust of the plan was to allow the LHIN’s to assume the critical responsibilities of the Ministry concerning the provision of health care in Ontario. This step would mean and allow for local control. This delegation was felt to be the best way to manage health care cost-effectively and at the same time provide the required level of adequate health care uniquely suited to each LHIN.

The New Plan

The current government has now announced its plan for the reform of health care administration and governance in Ontario. The new legislation will be known as the Connecting Care Act (“CCA”). The Act calls for the current fourteen (14) LHINs along with six (6) other health agencies, to be superceded by a new, single agency, called simply, Ontario Health (“OH”). This change has no timeline, and the implementation of the plan will likely take place over the next several years. To date, the introductory Bill, Bill 74, has only passed the first reading.

The CCA delineates a new framework for the provision and management of health care in the province. Strategies are to be developed by the Ministry which in turn will then be implemented and managed by OH. OH will have a website to announce the strategies as developed and as well to post an accountability agreement between the Ministry and OH. The agreement is expected to set out the goals, objectives, performance standards, targets, measures, spending plan, and reporting requirements.

The goals of the new plan appear similar to the existing program which is the provision of good health care at an affordable cost. The concern is still with the ever increasing cost of health care and the government’s ability to sustain the health care system in the future. The focus, however, is no longer on the local provision of such care but instead a province-wide integration management system. Integration is the keyword. Funding will be dependant on such a province-wide combination being achieved. The concept is meant to result in the following:

  • a coordinated series of services and interaction from and between the providers;
  • partnerships between providers;
  • transferring, merging or amalgamating services and their providers;
  • the creation or elimination of the services provided;
  • eliminating duplication of services and providers.

Integrated Care Delivery Systems

A further new concept is the ability of the Ministry to designate the person(s), companies, or groups of persons and/or companies, as an Integrated Care Delivery System (“ICDS”). To be granted such status, the person(s) or group must demonstrate their ability to deliver no less than three of the following services:

  • hospital;
  • primary care;
  • mental health or addiction;
  • home care or community;
  • long term care homes;
  • palliative care; and,
  • other Ministry prescribed services.

Further  Changes

  • OH will have the ability to reduce costs in the delivery of health care by supporting or encouraging health service provider efficiencies;
  • OH will be given the ability to inspect health service providers;
  • OH may be given other powers as delegated by the Ministry.

At Wise Health Law, we keep abreast of evolving developments in health care law and governance, and regularly blog about recent legal decisions affecting health care industries, health associations, and health professionals. If you have questions about changes to health care governance or about health law in general, contact our health law lawyers at 416-915-4234 or contact us online. To stay current on recent developments in health law, follow our weekly blog.

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