Yakabuski Says Rural Needs A Priority In Healthcare Transformation

John Yakabuski says the Ottawa Valley’s unique healthcare needs will not become lost within the provincial government’s transformation of the healthcare system.  

The provincial government announced this week that it is merging several health agencies into one new agency, and establishing regional health teams across the province to help better guide patients toward care.

At Wednesday's Renfrew County Council meeting, some municipal leaders noted that many services that are already in place in the Valley, especially those dealing with mobile care, are linked to existing agencies such as the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Many of them expressed their hope that there wouldn't be any gaps under the new system.

However, Yakabuski, who is the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP, says the new approach will change very little about how patients get their care, and will instead reduce duplication, cut administrative costs, and put more of the province's healthcare dollars toward front-line care.

"This is a significant change, and that's a legitimate question", Yakabuski told Star 96.7 on Thursday.

"But our goal is quite clear:  we're going to reduce the duplication, we have a clear understanding of the realities of rural Ontario versus urban Ontario, and all of that is going to be duly considered as we make these changes", Yakabuski said.

"We will get more and more of those crucial healthcare dollars to the front lines, where people need them.  And as the population ages, the need to have that help on the front lines will be more and more imperative", Yakabuski added.

"Too many of are healthcare dollars are not being spent on healthcare".

More Information For Patients

Yakabuski adds that the new regional health teams will ensure that patients have a continuity of care, no matter where they're being served.

"This is all about patient-centred health, where patients have more control themselves.  We're going to ensure that people have access to their own medical records".

He also says there will be no different atmosphere or changes when people are dealing with their family doctors, but instead, a better framework for the wider healthcare system to support patients through each step of their care.

The Ontario Medical Association has already voiced its initial support for the changes, saying anything that better helps patients find the care they need is a good thing.