SUMMARY: Health care commitments from the newly-released Ontario PC platform

On Saturday, November 25, Patrick Brown released his political platform for the 2018 provincial election titled “The People’s guarantee.”

The People’s guarantee highlights five key commitments including the largest mental health commitment in Canadian provincial history.

The following summary was lifted from the document released on the weekend.

Regarding health care, Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will:

  • Commit $1.9 billion to build a comprehensive mental health system which is the largest mental health commitment in Canadian provincial history.
  • Reduce hospital and emergency room wait times.
  • Create a dental program for low-income seniors.
  • Build 15,000 new long-term care beds in five years and 30,000 over 10 years.
  • Treat doctors with respect by always consulting them on future reforms to the healthcare system as well as protecting their conscience rights.

Mental health

The federal government made a 10-year, $1.9 billion commitment to mental health in Ontario as part of their most recent health transfer agreement with the province. Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will match that 10-year federal commitment, with the goal of creating a comprehensive mental health treatment system in Ontario.

Patrick Brown will make it his government’s priority to devise a comprehensive mental health system that would include building on existing investments in mental health. The funding will be directed towards priorities including:

  • Targeted investments into youth and children’s mental health services across the province to reduce wait times for services, including funding for mental health support services at Ontario’s college and university campuses.
  • Expanding the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST) pilot project, which teams up plain clothes police officers and mental health workers to divert people in crisis away from repeated police contact.
  • Investing in mental health services, including suicide prevention counselling. This will include services for Indigenous populations through a preventative mental health team that that specifically deals with Indigenous and Northern communities, instead of sending crisis reams to places like Attawapiskat only after a crisis has occurred.
  • Topping up elementary and secondary school supports for services targeted at improving mental health and well-being, including funding awareness campaigns.
  • Reforming existing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) legislation to presume PTSD diagnoses for trauma nurses are workplace related.
  • Investing in the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s First Link program to help people diagnosed with dementia get the support and treatment they need
  • Addressing security issues at Waypoint Centre for Mental Healthcare
  • Investing in data collection regarding mental health, addictions, and treatment to identify and fill gaps in care.
  • Increasing the budgets of Ontario’s designated psychiatric facilities to increase the capacity and reduce wait times.
  • Funding more in-house Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) teams in long-term care homes as well as more housing supports for those dealing with mental health issues.

Hospital wait times

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will make proper investments in other parts of the health care system to alleviate the pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Dental program

Creating a dental program for low-income seniors will go a long way to relieving these pressures and reducing hospital wait times. To facilitate this, the government should invest in two initiatives:

  1. The government should provide funding for dental capacity in Public Health units, Community Health Centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres.
  2. The government should invest in new dental services in underserviced This includes working with the public and private sector and investing in mobile dental busses to help Ontario’s senior in more rural locations.

Combined, these two investments could treat as many as 90,000 – 100,000 low-income seniors a year.

Long-term beds

Hospitals are becoming overcrowded, patients are being treated in hallways and temporary patient rooms, and hospitals can’t keep up. These pressures stem from the lack of long-term care beds in the province, with more than 32,000 seniors on the waiting list for long-term care bed in Ontario.

Treat doctors with respect

There should be an independent process for medically assisted dying that works effectively for patients that is not punitive for providers, and that does not force participation of a provider where they are unwilling to participate. In addition, access to a family doctor is still a concern for many Ontarians, particularly in rural and Northern Ontario, while access to specialists is a concern across the province. Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will appoint a task force to study access shortages to family doctors and specialists across the province.

Opioid crisis

The Liberal government recently took a good first step in appointing a task force to combat the spread of opioids. However, more can be done, such as:

  • Banning pill presses used to make opioids unless used by a professional, such as a pharmacist.
  • Ensuring that local law enforcement and health officials are on the same page when it comes to interacting with people with addiction issues and mandate that a health representative is put on local police boards.
  • An advertisement campaign about the dangers of opioids, funded by the province using the newly committed dollars for mental health services

Oral cancer drugs

By funding take-home oral cancer drugs, we can allow patients, if they choose, to receive treatment in the comfort of their own home and divert patients away from hospitals, freeing up needed resources and space at the hospital level.

Clinical trials

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will allow patients participating in clinical trials to be eligible for publicly funded treatment following the end of their clinical trial.

Cardiac care centres

When it comes to treating coronary artery disease there are only 19 hospitals in Ontario that provide advanced cardiac services. The province should review the current gaps in care and fund the building of new centres to help improve services in other regions.

Physiotherapy

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will restore the $50 million cut from seniors’ preventative therapy services budget for services such a physiotherapy.

Assistive Devices Program

Patrick Brown and the PCs will undertake a review of the lists of devices covered by the Assistive Devices Program, shorten administrative payment timelines and increase the government’s coverage to 80% of listed items.

Childhood obesity

In 2014, the government initiated a pilot program of 60 minutes of daily exercise in public schools instead of the current 45-minute minimum requirement. This initiative deserves to be made mandatory for all schools.

Renewing health cards

Patrick Brown and the PCs will create an online portal for renewing health cards.

Contraband tobacco

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will expand the Provincial OPP Enforcement Team to combat contraband tobacco to include local police forces and give those forces the necessary tools to fight contraband tobacco.

Personal support workers

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will allow the Ontario Personal Support Worker Association (OPSWA) to run the central registry for personal support workers instead of a government body.

Administration costs

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will work with the home care sector to ensure resources go towards high quality patient care, not administrative costs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Patrick Brown will commit to allowing Traditional Chinese Medicine exams to be written in commonly accepted Chinese languages.

OHIP+

Patrick Brown will honour previous promises made by the government, including the pharmacare program OHIP+ which provides free medication to youth aged 24 and under. Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs will also review the province’s drug programs, including ways to increase support for rare disease coverage.

Frontline health care

Patrick Brown and the Ontario PCs’ health care promises will total an additional $1.6 billion by the end of the mandate into frontline health care.