AFHTO has submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Finance as part of the 2021 Ontario Pre-Budget Consultations. The submission is entitled "The Heart of Health Care: Delivering Better Primary Care for Ontarians."
This submission was done in collaboration with the Ontario College of Family Physicians, the OMA Section on General & Family Practice, and the Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario.
Our recommendations are the following:
MORE ACCESS TO BETTER CARE: EXPANDING INTERPROFESSIONAL TEAM-BASED PRIMARY CARE
- Ontario must commit to a 10-year, $750 million funding strategy to ensure every Ontarian has access to team-based primary care when needed. Within five years, access to this care must be expanded to, at minimum, half the population with priority on people who need it the most, such as those with complex and chronic illnesses, those with mental health and addiction challenges, and those hoping to live safely at home for as long as possible. Within 10 years, every Ontarian who needs it must have access to team-based primary care.
MORE INTEGRATED CARE: EMBED MENTAL HEALTH AND HOME CARE IN PRIMARY CARE
- Government must work with family physicians, nurse practitioners, primary care teams, and mental health care providers to develop a plan to integrate and embed mental health and addiction supports and resources in primary care.
- Government must strengthen the relationship between primary care and home and community care by transitioning the function and associated resources of Ontario Health Home Care and Community Support Service Organization care coordination to primary care.
MORE ACCESSIBLE AND CONTINUOUS CARE: STRENGTHEN VIRTUAL CARE FOUNDATIONS IN PRIMARY CARE
Government must work with the Ontario Medical Association to implement permanent billing codes into the Schedule of Benefits that address all digital modes of communication, including video, phone, and secure messaging. Government must also provide the necessary IT and administrative resources required by physicians, nurse practitioners, and primary care teams to provide comprehensive virtual care, so patients continue to receive continuity of care, no matter how they choose to access that care.
To help facilitate virtual tool integration within electronic medical records (EMRs), upfront infrastructure funding and ongoing subsidies must be provided so that primary care EMRs can continue to be optimized and utilized to their full extent. This includes online booking and the ability to integrate with digital modes of communication, such as email, phone, and video visits.