Ontario Connecting Over 300,000 People to Primary Care Teams
$110 million investment brings the province one step closer to connecting everyone in Ontario to primary care
NEWS February 1, 2024
BROCKVILLE — The Ontario government is investing $110 million to connect up to 328,000 people to primary care teams, bringing the province one step closer to connecting everyone in Ontario to primary care.
In Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, funding will allow the Upper Canada Family Health Team to connect up to 6,600 people to primary care. Programs and services include comprehensive primary care, mental health services, chronic disease management and prevention, and care coordination. The locations are designed to be accessible to unattached and marginalized patients seeking care. The Upper Canada Family Health Team and Brockville General Hospital will work with many community partners including Public Health, other Family Health Teams, EMS, City of Brockville, and local pharmacies to expand primary care.
“I want to thank the people of Mallorytown and the entire riding for their support of the need to expand primary care,” said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. “I look forward to working with the Upper Canada Family Health Team and community partners to serve this significant amount of unattached patients.”
“Our community expects high-quality primary health care,” said Sherri Hudson, Executive Director with Upper Canada Family Health Team. “This is investment will assist the Upper Canada Family Health Team continue to play a vital role in the community’s health and well being.”
Ontario currently leads the country with 90 per cent of people connected to a regular health care provider. As a next step to close the gap for the 1.3 million people not connected to primary care, the government is making a record investment of $90 million to add over 400 new primary care providers as part of 78 new and expanded interprofessional primary care teams. In addition to other historic investments to expand medical school spots and efforts to break down barriers so highly-skilled internationally-trained doctors can care for people in Ontario, Ministry of Health modelling shows that these initiatives will help connect up to 98 per cent of people in Ontario to primary care in the next several years.
“Our government is making record investments to ensure that everyone that wants to have a primary care provider can connect to one,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While there is more work to do, giving hundreds of thousands of more Ontarians the opportunity to connect to primary care brings us that much closer to this goal.”
Interprofessional primary care teams connect people to a range of health professionals that work together under one roof, including doctors, nurse practitioners, registered and practical nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and dietitians, among others. Timely access to primary care helps people stay healthier for longer with faster diagnosis and treatment, as well as more consistent support managing their day-to-day health while relieving pressures on emergency departments and walk-in clinics.
An additional $20 million will provide a boost to all existing interprofessional primary care teams to help them meet increased operational costs for their facilities and supplies so that they continue to provide high-quality care to the people they provide care to.
Since the launch of Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care one year ago, the government has been making steady progress to ensure the health care system has become better equipped to respond to the needs of patients and provide them with the right care in the right place, faster access to services and access to an expanded health care workforce.
- Today’s investment triples the original $30 million dollars earmarked to expand interprofessional primary care teams and will deliver over four times as many initiatives as outlined in our Your Health Plan almost a year ago.
- The new and expanded teams will include Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, Community Health Centres and Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations
- Ontario is the first province to have a publicly funded Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic program.
- This is in addition to the new Practice Ready Ontario Program that will add 50 new physicians this year.
- The new and expanded teams are the result of a province-wide call for proposals that took place in 2023. All proposals were thoroughly reviewed by Ontario Health based on criteria prioritizing areas of greatest need, to connect a greater number of people currently without a regular primary care provider with these services closer to home.
- Ontario leads the country in how many people benefit from a long-term, stable relationship with a family doctor or primary care provider. Since 2018 the province has added over 80,000 new nurses and 10,300 new physicians to the health care system.
- Ontario invests over $1 billion in interprofessional primary care teams annually.
“Family doctors are the foundation of our health-care system. Every Ontarian, no matter where they live, should have access to a doctor and a well-co-ordinated health-care team supporting them when and where they need it. This is an important step towards that goal.”
– Dr. Andrew Park, OMA President
“The OMA has been advocating for increased investments in teams to improve access to care and ensure doctors and health professions are able to do what they do best, care for patients. There are benefits to team-based care for both patients and providers so our goal is to get every Ontarian access. This announcement to triple the original funding plan is a significant move in the right direction.”
– Kimberly Moran, OMA CEO
“The expansion of primary care, and – in particular the enhanced utilization of NP expertise alongside RN prescribing – will unlock timely, safe and quality care for Ontarians. Better care and health outcomes also lead to lower system costs – a win for Ontarians as patients and as taxpayers. We are pleased that the government is demonstrating commitment to publicly-funded, team-based primary care, which will begin transforming the health system for all and especially for marginalized and vulnerable populations”
– Dr. Doris Grinspun, RN, O.ONT, CEO Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario
“The Ontario Hospital Association thanks the Government of Ontario for making new investments in primary health care teams, which will improve access to high-quality primary care and address some of the capacity pressures on hospitals by keeping more Ontarians well and less likely to require hospitalization. Demand for health care services is expected to rise dramatically in the years ahead as Ontario’s population grows and ages. Continued investments in all areas of health care services are needed to allow care to be delivered in the most appropriate setting and in the most cost-effective manner. We look forward to continued collaboration and innovation with the province and our health system partners to ensure that Ontario’s health care system is prepared to meet the future demands that will be placed upon it.”
– Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association
“Today’s announcement to expand and grow access to teams of health care providers will ensure that more Ontarians can get the right care, from the right provider, while adding needed support for family doctors. The Ontario College of Family Physicians has been advocating for expanded team-based care in this province, and today’s announcement is a positive step forward. We look forward to continuing to work with the Ontario government to ensure that every Ontarian has access to a family physician.”
– Dr. Mekalai Kumanan, President, Ontario College of Family Physicians
“Increasing and expanding interprofessional primary care teams will provide more people access to primary care, which is critical for a stable and high-functioning health system. This expansion is an important step in advancing our goal of a more connected and coordinated health system in Ontario.”
– Matthew Anderson, President and CEO, Ontario Health
“The Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) is thrilled by the recent announcement from the Ontario Ministry of Health regarding the allocation of additional funding towards expanding interprofessional primary care and existing programs. This is a significant investment that will support Nurse Practitioners, as integral healthcare team members, in ensuring Ontarians receive the high-quality, timely care they deserve. NPAO looks forward to continuing to work with the Ministry of Health to advance our shared goals of comprehensive and accessible healthcare delivery.”
– Dr. Michelle Acorn and Barbara Bailey, CEO of NPAO and President of NPAO
“We commend the government of Ontario for further investing in interprofessional team-based primary care across Ontario. These projects are going to be critical to ensure more Ontarians have access to primary care teams that can provide the wraparound services we know result in better outcomes and faster access to care. This is an important step in building upon the comprehensive programs offered through team-based primary care and expanding these teams as the foundation of Ontario’s health care system.”
– Leslie Sorensen, CEO, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
“On behalf of the Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association, I extend heartfelt gratitude to the provincial government for their visionary commitment to primary care. The allocation of $90 million towards the expansion of interprofessional care teams is a testament of their dedication to fostering comprehensive, patient-centered care. This commitment will reduce barriers for underserved communities and improve access for unattached patients, particularly those in marginalized or vulnerable populations. Additionally, the wise decision to invest an additional $20 million in supporting the operational pressures faced by existing primary care teams exemplifies a deep understanding of the challenges our primary healthcare teams navigate daily. This significant financial support not only empowers us to broaden the reach of collaborative care but also fortifies the foundations of our existing teams. I commend the provincial government for prioritizing the well-being of our communities. Together, we are charting a course towards a more resilient, inclusive, and connected healthcare system.”
– Teresa Wetselaar- Chair, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic Association