Ontario government announces plan meant to stabilize health-care system | CBC News

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones’ plan to stabilize the health-care system includes increasing surgeries performed at private clinics but covered by OHIP, covering the exam and registration fees for internationally trained nurses, and sending patients waiting for a long-term care bed to a home not of their choosing.

Jones is announcing the plan today, as nursing staff shortages have seen emergency departments across the province close throughout the summer for hours or days at a time.

She says the plan includes modifying a program that can deploy nurses full-time across multiple hospitals in a region, and expanding a program for mid-to-late career or retired nurses to mentor newer nurses.

The province will also temporarily cover the exam, application and registration fees for internationally trained and retired nurses, saving them up to $1,500, and plans to invest up to $57.6 million over three years to increase the number of nurse practitioners working in long-term care homes.

In long-term care, the government plans to introduce legislation today that will allow patients awaiting a bed to be transferred to a “temporary” home while they await space in their preferred home, and is taking 300 beds that had been used for COVID-19 isolation and making them available for people on wait lists.

Long-term care minister Paul Calandra said the legislation would not force anybody who doesn’t want to leave the hospital to go, but would “allow us to continue the conversation.”

“There is a challenge in acute care and long-term care is in a position to make a difference for the first time in generations,” Calandra said.

Language in the plan also suggests more of a role for privately delivered but publicly covered services, with the government saying it will invest more to increase surgeries in pediatric hospitals and existing private clinics covered by OHIP and is also considering options for further increasing surgical capacity by increasing the number of those procedures performed at “independent health facilities.”

Over the last week, Jones and Premier Doug Ford have said the province is considering all options to improve the health-care system, and have not ruled out further private-sector involvement, though they said Ontarians would not have to pay for anything.

Hospital emergency departments throughout Ontario have closed for hours or even days this summer due to a severe shortage of nurses.

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