MANITOULIN—With the provincial government poised to dissolve regional health agencies, many individuals and organizations, including Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, oppose the move.
It has been reported that the province is considering a sharp cut to the bureaucracies that are supposed to co-ordinate health care services at the local level. According to multiple sources connected to government and the healthcare sector, the provincial government is looking to dissolve the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and replace them with no more than five regional oversight bodies that would monitor spending by hospitals and long-term care homes.
The LHINs oversee nearly $30 billion in annual operating funding that is funneled from the health ministry to hospitals, long-term care homes and community health centres. They are also the first point of contact for patients who want to get publicly funded home care or a spot in a provincial nursing home.
“No, it is not good news,” stated Mr. Mantha. “My biggest concern is that it would take away much of the regional representation from Northern Ontario.”
“Northern Ontario is a vast geographical area,” said Mr. Mantha. “To limit it to one voice would be quite concerning.”
“As well, cuts to LHIN will impact hospitals and will become a hardship on patients,” said Mr. Mantha. “It will lead to reduced staff numbers, longer wait times and more frustration to residents of Northern Ontario.”
“It is quite concerning,” said Mr. Mantha, pointing out France Gelinas, NDP health critic and Nickel Belt MPP does not think there would be any savings found by the province by reducing the number of LHINs in Ontario. She questions why the provincial government would even consider reducing the number of LHINs across the province.
Ms. Gelinas has also indicated that regional areas of Ontario should maintain control of their healthcare needs.
Mr. Mantha said, “people are already mad with some of the cuts being made by the Ford government and can’t believe the cuts are happening, such as cuts to student tuition and education and Northern Ontario highways, and now this?”