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Ford government releases plan to address Ontario’s struggling healthcare system

More healthcare workers, more provincially-covered procedures at private facilities, and new legislation to assist with moving patients to alternative long-term care homes.

Those are the highlights of Ontario’s new five-point plan to address the province’s struggling healthcare system, dubbed “Health System Stability and Recovery”.

The plan, introduced on Thursday by Health Minister Sylvia Jones, includes the addition of 19,000 healthcare workers and frees up over 2,500 hospital beds. Jones says that will make sure that care is there for those who need it and that the province stays open during what she calls an expected winter surge.

As for the new proposed legislation, she says if passed, the bill would make it easier to place patients who are already waiting for a spot at their preferred Long-term home, in alternative homes to free up more beds. Jones maintained that there will be mandatory guidelines to ensure patients won’t be out of pocket for any cost difference and remain close to loved ones. If passed, she says the legislation would help free up to 250 beds in its first six months. 

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She says the province is also temporarily covering the costs of examination, application, and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, so they can resume or begin caring for patients sooner, saving them up to $1,500. 

Jones says Ontario is also adding 400 physician residents to support the workforce in northern and rural Ontario. In addition, she says the province is working with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to expedite the registration of doctors, including those from out of the province who may want to work in rural and northern emergency departments.

Jones says her government is also looking at further bolstering surgical capacity by increasing the number of OHIP-covered surgical procedures performed at independent health facilities. To that end, she says Ontario is investing more to increase surgeries in pediatric hospitals and existing private clinics covered by OHIP, as well as funding more operating hours for hospital-based MRI and CT machines.

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