Connected Care Update — November 13, 2019
Ontario has now reached several important milestones in our journey to build a connected and coordinated public health care system that starts and ends with the patient.
Transfer notices issued
As announced earlier this year, we are integrating multiple provincial agencies into one agency, Ontario Health. As the next step in the integration of the agencies, the Minister of Health has issued transfer orders to the Board Chair and CEOs of five provincial agencies to inform them that their agencies will transfer into Ontario Health on December 2, 2019.
The transferring agencies are: Cancer Care Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, eHealth Ontario, Health Shared Services Ontario, and HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency.
There will be no change to the activities of the five agencies when they transfer into Ontario Health. Current contracts, agreements and reporting obligations for all transferring agencies remain the same for the time being.
Each legacy provincial agency will transfer into Ontario Health "in whole". The only exception is the Physician Assistant Career Start Program operated by the Health Force Ontario Marketing and Recruitment Agency. The Ministry of Health will assume responsibility for this program and use existing ministry staff and resources to continue its management, while HealthForceOntario staff transfer into Ontario Health. There will be no other changes to the program. Current positions funded by the Physician Assistant Career Start Program remain and eligible employers should continue filling them.
Given the complexity of Ontario’s organ and tissue donation system, the Trillium Gift of Life Network will transfer into Ontario Health at a later date to ensure there will be no disruption to patients and families involved with organ and tissue donation.
Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) regional clustering
As part of the ongoing work to plan for the careful transition of certain LHIN functions and oversight responsibilities into Ontario Health, Ontario is overseeing the operational reorganization of the 14 LHINs into five interim and transitional geographical regions based on the existing 14 LHIN geographic boundaries as set out presently in the LHIN’s governing legislation.
Ontario is also reducing the number of LHIN CEO positions from 14 to five to reflect this inter-LHIN operational realignment. These five positions will become Transitional Regional Leads for each of the five interim regions respectively.
The Transitional Regional Leads will report to the Ontario Health Board which remains as the Board for the LHINs. They will also be responsible for the ongoing management of the LHIN operations in their regions, including staying on top of local needs and overseeing the continued coordination of patient access to home and community care and long-term care placement. The Transitional Regional Leads will further report to the Interim CEO of Ontario Health to support planning for the eventual transition of certain LHIN functions and oversight responsibilities into Ontario Health.
The five interim leads are:
- Bruce Lauckner, who will become the regional lead in western Ontario (and CEO of the Erie St. Clair, Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Norfolk Brant, South West and Waterloo Wellington LHINs).
- Renato Discenza, who will become the regional lead in eastern Ontario (and CEO of the Champlain, South East and Central East LHINs).
- Scott McLeod, who will become the regional lead in central Ontario (and CEO of the Central, Central West, Mississauga Halton, and North Simcoe Muskoka LHINs).
- Tess Romain, who will become the regional lead in Toronto (and CEO of Toronto Central LHIN).
- Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, who will become the regional lead in northern Ontario (and CEO of the North East and North West LHINs).
The interim regional clustering of LHINs are:
- Erie-St. Clair
- South West
- Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant
- Waterloo Wellington
- Mississauga Halton
- Central West
- North Simcoe Muskoka
- Toronto Central
- Central East
- South East
- North West
- North East
To be clear: this is not an amalgamation or merger of any of 14 LHINs but a means of operationally reorganizing regional oversight between the existing LHINs. LHINs will continue with their day-to-day work in their respective jurisdictions, including delivering home and community care and long-term care placement services. There will be no changes to how patients access these services.
Certain LHIN functions will eventually transition into Ontario Health over time based on a careful plan the ministry is developing with Ontario Health and the LHINs. LHIN functions that involve delivering home and community care remain unchanged in the short-term and will eventually move to local Ontario Health Teams. Continuity of patient care throughout this process will remain a top priority.
The Ministry of Health would like to acknowledge and thank the LHIN executive leadership for their ongoing professionalism, dedication and excellence as work to modernize the health care system continues.
Legislative and regulatory changes
The Ministry of Health is making several legislative and regulatory changes that support Ontario’s work to modernize the health care system and ensure services remain uninterrupted during this transformational period.
A topline summary is provided below. Further details will be made available shortly on the Ontario eLaws website.
Supporting transition into Ontario Health
The Ministry is proclaiming into force select consequential legislative changes as part of The People’s Health Care Act, 2019 to the Excellent Care for All Act, 2010. The Ministry is also making regulatory amendments to various regulations made under the Personal Health Information and Protection Act, 2004, Excellent Care for All Act, 2010, and the Connecting Care Act, 2019 to ensure that the work of the agencies being transferred can continue without interruption under Ontario Health. This includes ensuring that the privacy of a patient’s personal health information remains protected during and after transition.
Paving the way for digital health
The Ministry is making a regulatory amendment under the Home Care and Community Services Act, 1994 to clarify that virtual care can be delivered in home and community care settings. This will help pave the way for the continued expansion of virtual care access across the province.
Building a cohesive approach to lung health
As part of a mandate to reduce silos and provide a single, integrated source of clinical guidance for the health care sector in Ontario through Ontario Health, it is expected that the work related to lung health would continue as is through various programs within the Ministry of Health until it is determined how chronic disease would be approached by Ontario Health. The Lung Health Act, 2017 is consequently being repealed.
Through the Ministry of Health’s Smoke Free Ontario strategy, the Ministry of Health will also continue to invest in programs and services that promote lung health and prevent lung disease. Examples include funding community partners to deliver comprehensive smoking cessation services that help people quit smoking and vaping, and funding initiatives led by Public Health Units that prevent people, especially youth and young adults, from becoming addicted to nicotine. The Ministry also enforces the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, which creates smoke and vape-free spaces and restricts the display and promotion of tobacco and vapour products.
Engaging Indigenous and Francophone communities
Ontario is committed to engaging Indigenous and Francophone communities in our work to build a connected health care system that improves the patient and caregiver experience and strengthens local services.
The Minister is proclaiming into force amendments to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Act, to allow for the establishment of one or more Indigenous health councils that will advise the Minister about health and service delivery issues related to Indigenous peoples.
The Ministry is also proclaiming into force consequential amendments to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Act, and the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 to permit the Minister to similarly establish a French language health services advisory council to advise the Minister about health and service delivery issues related to Francophone communities.
Establishing these new advisory councils and adding greater flexibility in how members are appointed will ensure further opportunities for the diversity of voices across Indigenous and Francophone communities to inform the government’s ongoing work on health system modernization.