Ontario announces a plan to stay open for the recovery and stability of the health system

Plan provides up to 6,000 new healthcare jobs, 2,500 additional hospital beds, and temporary coverage of examination, application, and registration costs for retired nurses with international training




The Ontario government has released the next phase of its “Plan to Stay Open” ahead of what they say will likely be a rise in respiratory illnesses in the next few months.

The plan promises to increase thousands of healthcare employees, free up hospital beds, and put a priority on “health-care system stability and recovery.” According to officials, these increases will ease the strain on the larger health system, which has recently been severely stretched due to a staffing shortage.

The 18-page report, which was released on Thursday, states that respiratory sickness cases often increase in the fall and winter. This puts a strain on hospitals, emergency rooms, and the wider health system, including long-term care.

TRANSFER OF LONG-TERM CARE RESIDENTS TO ALTERNATIVE HOMES

The Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation that will allow senior patients in hospitals who are waiting to be admitted to a long-term care home to be transferred to another facility, possibly in a different community, until their preferred spot becomes available.

In the first six months, 250 hospital beds will be freed up, according to officials.

In order to guarantee that patients stay near to their loved ones and that there are no additional charges, the government stated that “mandated guidelines” will be adopted. However,few specifics were given regarding what such guidelines comprise.

Paul Calandra, minister of long-term care, stated in a press conference on Thursday morning that this approach will guarantee that patients receive care in the proper settings.

“Unfortunately, there are certain patients who need to be discharged from the hospital but are unable to do so because they need more care,” he stated. If these revisions are approved, it will be simpler to temporarily move these patients into a long-term care facility where they can receive better care in a more welcoming environment.

He stated that patients will not be forced to leave the hospital against their will, but that the legislation will allow conversations to “continue” between coordinators, seniors, and their families.

For the first time in generations, long-term care is in a position to make a difference since acute care is facing a problem.

In addition, Calandra stated that this policy will not affect anyone on the priority waiting list for a bed in a long-term care facility.

In April 2021, during the third wave of the pandemic, the Ontario government had announced that it will move sick hospital patients into long-term care facilities to free up room. Patient transfers were made possible as a result of this change to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which allowed for patient transfers without the patient’s agreement or the consent of a decision maker.

By the end of the summer, long-term care beds designated for COVID-19 isolation will also become available. According to officials, this choice, which was made after consulting the chief medical officer of health, will free up 1,000 beds in the next six months.

Additionally, they want to develop a system that enables paramedics to treat patients on the spot or transport them somewhere other than an emergency room. The government reports that a pilot study revealed 94% of patients avoided the emergency room in the days after following treatment.

Under the plan, these measures will “make available” or “free up” hospital beds rather than adding new ones.

INVESTING IN PRIVATE CLINIC SURGERIES

The Ontario government has stated that it is “investing more” to boost surgery at both pediatric hospitals and private clinics that are part of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). More than 150,000 additional operational hours for MRI and CT equipment located in hospitals will also be funded.

The Doug Ford administration has recently come under fire for implying that privatizing health care was being examined as a means to reduce the strain on hospitals. Since then, the premier and Jones have been insistent that Ontarians would be able to use their OHIP cards to access services.

When discussing their plan to invest in existing independent clinics, Health Minister Sylvia Jones reaffirmed this on Thursday, claiming that it is advantageous to have those facilities since it relieves burden on healthcare partners.

Jones emphasized, “We need to be bold, innovative and creative”. “And we need to be clear. With their OHIP cards, Ontarians will always have access to medical care.”

INCREASING THE NUMBER OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Up to 6,000 additional healthcare employees would be added to Ontario’s system, according to PCs.

They claim that doing so will lower financial barriers and save workers roughly $1,500 by temporarily covering the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for globally qualified and retired nurses.

Additionally, the government has stated that it will maintain nurse agency payments. These rates, according to the proposal, have substantially grown, “causing instability for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and emergency departments.”

Jones said so in response to a query on Bill 124, a piece of legislation that limits wage increases for employees of the public sector, such as nurses, to 1% annually. Repealing this law, according to supporters and healthcare professionals, would significantly aid in employee retention.

During staffing shortages or on short-term contracts, nursing organisations hire staff to serve on an as-needed basis in a number of situations.

The government also stated that where necessary, it will assist emergency rooms with “heavy demand” in moving patients to additional neighbouring hospitals.

Health-care workers, advocates, and politicians in Ontario have been critical of the plan. The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) called the government’s plan “a blatant move that will line the pockets of investors, nothing more,” while Unifor rebuked it for failing to repeal Bill 124.

“We can no longer accept the status quo” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, who announced the “Plan to Stay Open” at the end of March as a plan to create an Ontario prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. The second part of our plan will give our health system the support it needs to deal with the immediate pressures of today while planning for a potential winter spike so our province and economy can stay open.