AFHTO's Response to Ontario's 2022 Spring Budget

April 29, 2022

TORONTO, April 29, 2022 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) members across the province, AFHTO welcomes the investments in home care, mental health care, and health human resources in the 2022 Ontario Budget, Ontario's Plan to Build.

The investments will help strengthen the critical areas of home care and mental health care in our health system and expand access to care. AFHTO also recognizes that the government understands the need to invest in the health care workforce, while building the health human resources workforce of the future, specifically in underserviced communities. However, the challenges in primary and community care remain significant given lower funding and salary limits. AFHTO continues to urge the Ontario government to expand access and funding to team-based primary care to provide comprehensive care for Ontarians.

"Home care and mental health need substantial rebuilding, and we commend the government for these investments," said Kavita Mehta, Chief Executive Officer, AFHTO. "But seniors managing multiple conditions and medicines, people suffering from mental health challenges, and parents caring for children with chronic conditions need an integrated primary care team that can work hand-in-hand with patients to provide comprehensive and coordinated care. It is time to ensure every Ontarian who needs it has access to team-based primary care."

Only one in four Ontarians have access to team-based primary care, which offers more timely access to care, better coordination of care, and cost savings for the health system. An investment in team-based primary care – something the government has not committed to in recent years – is an investment in better seniors' care, improving access to mental health care, and improving health outcomes.

AFHTO is calling on the government to invest an additional $75 million per year for the next 10 years in team-based primary care. The healthcare system is complex, each patient's needs are unique, and a team approach meets these needs. Without access to team-based primary care when needed, too many people fall through the cracks, negatively impacting their health and increasing costs to our healthcare system.

"Evidence shows it can cost the province three times more to care for a patient who is unable to access high-quality team-based care. Yet only one in four Ontarians have access to an interprofessional care team," said Clarys Tirel, President & Chair, AFHTO. "Interprofessional primary care teams are there for populations that need support the most – regardless of where they live – such as seniors, those dealing with mental health challenges, and people with chronic illnesses. When it comes to better access to care, it takes a team. We need further investments in team-based primary care."

Along with our partners in primary and community care, AFHTO will continue to work with the Ontario government, and all political parties heading into the 2022 Ontario election, to ensure that our health system provides access to team-based primary care for every person who needs it.

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