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Ontario government makes new commitment to strengthening interprofessional primary care

Today, the Ontario government announced new investments in interprofessional primary care. In the 2017 Ontario Budget, the Wynne government committed $145 million in addition to the $85 million announced last year.

  • The government is “investing an additional $145 million over the next 3 years to effectively recruit and retain nurses, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists, reception staff and other care providers who provide valuable services alongside family doctors on these teams. This is in addition to the $85 million in investments in interprofessional teams announced in the 2016 budget.”
  • In addition to the base funding increases, the government has promised to expand access to interprofessional teams:  “In 2017, Ontario will invest an additional $15 million annualized in team-based primary care to create new or expand existing interprofessional care teams so that all 76 sub regions across the province have a team.”

The Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC), the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) and the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) appreciate this financial commitment. This investment will help address recruitment and retention challenges, build strong interprofessional primary care teams and ensure high-quality, people-centred primary health care delivery in Ontario. 

The new retention and recruitment investment will be implemented over 3 years and will mean $73 million annualized by 2019-2020. In addition to the $9.5 million per year announced in the 2016 budget, this means approximately:

  • A total of $24 million in annualized funding in 2017-2018
  • A total of $48 million in annualized funding by 2018-2019
  • A total of $73 million in annualized funding by 2019-2020

The three associations will be working with the Ministry over the next few weeks to work out the details of this funding and to flow the money as quickly as possible. We will also be conducting a market refresh for 2017 rates to inform our Phase Three campaign to narrow the gap to current rates.

“In Phase One of our recruitment and retention campaign, we achieved $31.5 million annualized for interprofessional primary health care teams. In Phase Two, we have achieved another $73 million annualized. Together, this brings us to over $100 million annualized in our quest for fair compensation,” said Kavita Mehta, AFHTO CEO. “While it came short of our campaign ask, the new investment would not have been possible without the active participation of our members, who have spent the last few months writing letters, collecting petitions and meeting with their MPPs.”

The new investment moves us closer to $130 million needed to bring over 7,500 health care professionals working in over 400 interprofessional primary health care teams to competitive rates. This will significantly address the gap with hospitals, Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) and public health and to address retention and recruitment challenges faced by interprofessional primary care organizations.

“New funding for interprofessional primary care is a welcome step, but additional investments are required to achieve Minister Hoskins’ vision as articulated in Patients First. Today’s announcement is welcome news for primary care teams and the millions of Ontarians they serve,” said NPAO CEO Theresa Agnew.

“The investments in this year’s health budget signal the government’s growing recognition that primary care is the foundation of our health system. We are pleased to see this new funding, especially in the context of other health announcements that impact the determinants of community health and wellbeing,” said Adrianna Tetley, AOHC CEO.

AFHTO, AOHC and NPAO are gearing up for the work ahead. We will continue working together to bring all staff working in interprofessional primary care teams to competitive salary rates, and to ensure that people in Ontario have access to comprehensive, interprofessional, team-based care.

For full budget analysis, click here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017