Ontario Connecting More People to Primary Care Teams in Elgin County and St. Thomas

NEWS                                                                                               March 1, 2024

Elgin County and St. Thomas— The Ontario government is investing $960,938 to connect more people to primary care teams in Elgin County and St. Thomas through the Thames Valley Family Health Team. This is part of Ontario’s $110 million investment 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.

“This investment by the Province in the Thames Valley Family Health Team, under the leadership of Premier Ford and Minister Jones, will significantly grow our primary care capacity in Elgin County and St. Thomas,” said Rob Flack, Member of Provincial Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London. “This is great news for our region and will serve nearly 1200 residents in our community.”

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 people not connected to primary care in the community, the province is supporting the expansion of interprofessional primary care teams in Elgin County and St. Thomas.

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.

“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.”

“The funding announcement today will be well received by the constituents of Elgin County”, says Cindy Bratt, Executive Director of the East Elgin Family Health Team. “Those of us who already provide team-based care in Elgin County are aware of the benefits to patients and their health outcomes. A big thank you goes out to the Ontario Government for recognizing the need in Elgin County and enabling team-based care across Elgin County.”

Andy Kroeker, Executive Director of the West Elgin Community Health Centre, adds: “This important investment will provide hope for vulnerable populations. We are committed to ensuring that every member of our community, regardless of their circumstances, receives the care and support they deserve.”

Deanna Huggett, Executive Director of the Elgin Ontario Health Team, says: “This expansion of team-based primary care in Elgin County marks a pivotal advancement in strengthening our healthcare system. Now, we are not just enhancing care for people but also contributing to the overall resilience and efficiency of our healthcare system.”

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.

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.

Quick Facts: 

·      As a next step to close the gap for the 1.3 million people not connected to primary care in the province, 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. The new and expanded teams will include Family Health Teams, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics, Community Health Centres and Indigenous Primary Health Care Organizations.

·      Ontario’s investment of $90 million dollars more than 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.

·      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.

·      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 prioritising 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 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.

·      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.          

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