Ontario merges 20 health agencies into new super agency

Ontario is merging 20 health agencies into one super agency as part of a system overhaul.

Health Minister Christine Elliott announced the sweeping changes to the health care system at a news conference Tuesday. The plan will dissolve 14 local health integration networks (LHINs) and amalgamate six different health agencies, such as Cancer Care Ontario, into a super agency called Ontario Health.

Local hospitals, doctors, long-term care and home care providers will instead work together to coordinate patient care.

The legislature approved the plan when it was tabled Tuesday afternoon. Opposition parties agree the province does need better health care coordination but members remain skeptical.

Under the new plan, 30 to 50 Ontario health teams would form across the province and oversee the care of roughly 300,000 patients. Hospitals and other care providers, like those in long-term and home care, submit their individual integration plans to the province for approval.

“Right now we have too much duplication at the admin level. We need more on the front line,” said Elliott.

The health minister would not speculate on any financial savings to the province, about 40 per cent of Ontario’s budget goes to health care. Elliott says this will be a gradual change over the next few years starting this spring.