Since the release of the Council’s initial report, Hallway Health Care: A System Under Strain there have been many important changes introduced in the health care system.

The government has launched new initiatives – such as Ontario Health Teams – that will create a health care system that is integrated, innovative and able to respond to short and long-term capacity pressures. These initiatives are currently underway; however, there is much more work to be done to better connect patients, families, providers and caregivers with high-quality health care services.  

Since releasing the last report in January, Council members have travelled to communities across Ontario seeking feedback from patients, families, caregivers, providers and system leaders about how hallway health care has impacted their lives, and what can be done to reduce wait times and improve interactions with the health care system. The Premier’s Council will continue to engage communities and is always open to more feedback about how to improve health care.

The Premier’s Council has reviewed a substantial amount of research, listened to Ontarians, and developed a set of 10 strategic policy recommendations to help the government stay on track to end hallway health care and build a sustainable health system.

Findings from hallway health care: A system under strain

In its first report to government, the Premier’s Council identified three key challenges facing Ontario’s health care system.

Key Findings

  1. Patients and families are having difficulty navigating the health care system and are waiting too long for care. This has a negative impact on their own health and on provider and caregiver well-being.
  2. The system is facing capacity pressures today and does not have the appropriate mix of services, beds or digital tools to be ready for the projected increase in complex care needs and capacity pressures in the short and long term.
  3. There needs to be more effective coordination at both the system level and at the point-of-care. This could achieve better value for taxpayer money spent throughout the system. As currently designed, the health care system does not always work efficiently.

The first report also explored what these challenges look like throughout the health care system, and what this means for patients, families, caregivers and providers.

The report highlighted that patients and families are having a difficult time navigating the health care system. Ontarians cannot always see their primary care provider when they must, wait times for some procedures and access to specialist and community care are too long, and emergency department use is increasing. A lack of early intervention and prevention is contributing to more patients seeking care in hospitals rather than being cared for in their homes and communities. All of these challenges are connected to the problem of hallway health care.

Health care providers, family members and friends all feel the impact of a system that doesn’t make it easy to access care. This leads to high levels of stress and places a heavy burden on caregivers to act as advocates for timely and high-quality health care services.

At the same time, the health care needs of Ontario’s population are changing and the system needs to adapt. There are more patients with complex needs and there is an increase in chronic diseases that require careful and coordinated management. Fair and easy access to health care across the province continues to be a concern, and there isn’t the right mix of services or beds to address the capacity pressures of today or prepare for long-term challenges in the future.