Patients First Act
On December 7, 2016, Ontario passed Bill 41, Patients First Act, 2016. This transformative legislation is designed to improve access to health care for patients and their families. It will achieve this by increasing access to care with better coordination and continuity, and bring a greater focus on culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
Patients First Act – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) are currently responsible for planning and funding of:
Under the Patients First Act, the LHINs will be responsible for home care (currently the function of Ontario's 14 Community Care Access Centres) and primary care planning to ensure that people in Ontario are getting better and more local care, with less administration.
The Patients First Act will help ensure patients are at the centre of the health care system by making the additional following changes:
- Give LHINs an expanded mandate to include primary care planning, which will support more same-day, next-day, after-hours and weekend care being available. This will improve access to family doctors and nurse practitioners and support the province's commitment that all Ontarians who want a primary care provider will have one.
- Establish smaller geographic planning regions within each LHIN to help LHINs to better understand and address patient needs at the local level. By looking at care patterns through a smaller lens, LHIN staff will be able to better identify and respond to community needs and work with local health system leaders, including family doctors, nurse practitioners, home care coordinators and home and community care service providers, to build more seamless local health care service delivery. The LHIN will be able to ensure that patients across the entire LHIN will be able to access the care they need, when and where they need it.
- Reduce by 50% the health agencies operating within the LHIN regions with the elimination of the CCACs and their boards, as LHINs and CCACs are currently agencies operating in the same regions.
- Add the promotion of health equity and development and implementation of health promotion strategies to the LHINs' mandate.
- Ensure patients have a voice in local planning by establishing a patient and family advisory committee in each LHIN.
- Enhance accountability by giving LHINs powers to investigate or supervise health service providers and negotiate service accountability agreements with the providers.
- Ensure patient medical information continues to be confidential and secure, including in the case of an investigation, in which case investigators would have to obtain patient consent to access personal health information and patient information would be de-identified.
- Ensure high-quality patient care is provided consistently across the province by having Health Quality Ontario, Ontario's health quality advisor, work with experts to recommend clinical care standards.
- Emphasize the LHINs' responsibility to comply with the French Language Services Act in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of services.
Moving forward, the government is committed to the next stage of the Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, by focusing on improving patient experience and providing more reliable and faster access to care. The Patients First Act is part of the government's ongoing work under the Action Plan to create a more patient-centred health care system in Ontario.