On July 8, 2020, the provincial government passed Bill 175, Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act. The act sets a new legislative framework for home care, repealing The Home and Community Services Act, 1994, though many elements of the previous act will be maintained through additions to the Connecting Care Act, 2019 or through future regulation.
A short background on the act
The Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act was first introduced in February 2020, proceeding through its second reading in early March, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic both changed the legislative schedule and required the government to temporarily adjust its priorities. Following a consultation process in June, the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly made only the most minor changes to the act before it proceeded to third reading on July 7. Santis will watch closely for the first set of regulations to be implemented following royal assent.
Although many stakeholders asked the government to delay the final reading of the act to allow time for an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector and make changes to the act based on this assessment, the government chose to proceed, continuing on the path they set in the winter.
What will change within the home and community care sector?
This act represents the most substantial legislative change to home care in over 25 years and is enabling legislation that will allow the government to implement its larger-scale system transformation plans including the dismantling of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and the creation of Ontario Health Teams (OHTs).
At this time, many things will not change. Clients will continue to receive the same services and the contracted model of hiring service provider organizations will remain in place for the time being. The 14 LHIN corporations will continue operating under the name Home and Community Care Support Services, reflecting their smaller mandate.
The government plans to shift responsibility for the delivery of home and community care from the Home and Care Support Services organizations to the Ontario Health Teams over the next few years, which will continue to expand to provide provincial coverage. Each OHT who proceeded to full application was required to include plans for home care in their application but do not yet have the authority to implement substantial changes to this sector.
Several outstanding questions remain for home and community care. What is the role of the Ministry of Health and what is Ontario Health’s role? How will any changes to long-term care affect the home and community care sector? Will the Ministry provide guidelines for Ontario Health Teams on how they will be required to structure home care? How will the providers manage a fractured delivery environment?
Santis will continue monitoring these and other issues as the legislation and regulations are implemented.
As home and community care organizations consider the impact of this new legislation on their business, the Santis team is available to support you.
- Monitoring and updates: The Santis team is able to keep you connected to government thinking as regulations related to this act proceed and implementation of the bill begins.
- Strategy assessment and development: Coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Boards and leadership teams will want to assess their current strategy and consider the need for a strategic pivot.
- Communications support: Clearly communicating your value proposition and what sets your organization apart will take on a heightened importance in this new environment.
- Stakeholder engagement and partnership building: As the landscape changes and responsibility for home and community care shifts, Santis can support your team in analyzing partnership opportunities, designing a stakeholder engagement plan and developing a partnership strategy.