Health Bulletin

This document was published under a previous government.

The Patients First Act

Frequently Asked Questions

May 15, 2017

Ontario's Patients First Act includes some structural changes to the health care system that will help patients and their families access the health care they need more quickly and closer to home. The system changes will lead to a more local and integrated health care system, improving the patient experience and delivering higher-quality care.

These structural changes include more localized planning of the health care system to meet the unique health needs of every community across Ontario. This means that the Local Health Integration Networks will take on a bigger role to ensure that each person in the province is receiving the care they need, tailored to the needs of their specific community.

How will this help patients?

Once these structural system changes are fully complete, Ontario’s health care system will be more responsive to people’s needs, with system planning happening at the local level. Patients will benefit from care that is easier to access, easier to navigate, better co-ordinated, and more open and accountable:

Will I have to change doctors or home care providers?

No. You will continue to make your own individual health care choices. There will be no interruption to your care, and no need to change doctors or home care providers.

You can continue to use the same phone numbers, email addresses and websites to get in touch with your providers and arrange your care.

Patient choice remains paramount and health care will not be disrupted. Patient care and treatment will, as always, be decided by doctors and other front-line health care professionals together with patients.

How are you going to make sure that essential services like home and community care are not disrupted?

Continuity of care is a guiding principle of the transition of home and community care delivery to the LHINs. Your care coordinators and providers will remain the same. Long-term care home placement will also continue seamlessly. You will be able to continue to use the same phone numbers, email addresses, office locations and websites to get in touch.

Staff will now become part of a more integrated team that will make sure you are getting the care you need. Front-line employees – including care coordinators and support staff – are moving to the LHINs

Where can I find information about getting home care?

To find more information about getting home care, please contact your Local Health Integration Network.


Will there be less money for front-line health care?

No. As part of the 2017 Budget, Ontario is investing an additional $7 billion in health care over the next three years. In addition to this funding, savings resulting from reduced administrative and management costs will be reinvested in patient care.

How will the Local Health Integration Networks better meet the local health care needs of my community?

Each LHIN is establishing at least one patient and family advisory committee to ensure that local communities have a strong voice and that the patient perspective is part of local health care planning. The health needs of the local population will also be addressed through formal engagement between the LHINs and their local boards of health.

LHINs have also established a planning lens based on smaller geographic regions (called sub-regions) to help staff and health care providers better understand and address the local patient needs of a smaller population. This includes ensuring that every resident who wants a family doctor or other primary care provider has one, and that patients can see their family doctor on a same-or next-day when sick, as well as after hours and on weekends.

Each LHIN encompasses approximately 1-2 million people, making these regions both populous and diverse. By looking at health care patterns and needs through a smaller lens, LHINs can better address the needs of communities.

What changes are being made in support of French-speaking people in Ontario?

Every LHIN must comply with the French Language Services Act in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of services. This means that French Language Services will be better integrated into your health care.

Ontario will continue working with French language health leaders to ensure that their voices are heard, in particular with respect to equitable access to services that meet their unique needs.

Will these structural changes mean more health care bureaucracy?

No. Just the opposite, we are removing a layer of administration within the Community Care Access Centres and decreasing management costs by 8% every year.

These savings will be reinvested in providing more care.

Will my medical records stay safe and private?

Protecting patient privacy is a key priority in Ontario’s health care system. The Information and Privacy Commissioner worked with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on this plan, and proper protections are being put in place.

Did patients and health care stakeholders have a say on the Patients First Act and the associated implementation work?

Yes. Since December 2015, the province has engaged and consulted with more than 6,000 patients, health care providers, caregivers, stakeholder groups, Francophone Ontarians, Indigenous peoples and other partners in the health care system.

How will these structural changes make it easier for me to get a family doctor, see my family doctor and get the health care I need quickly?

These structural system changes will help the province improve access to family doctors and nurse practitioners, by supporting the province's commitment that everyone who wants one will have a primary care provider. It will also improve access to care when patients need it, including on the same or next day when sick, as well as after hours and on weekends. This will also enhance the mandate of LHINs so that they are better able to assess and act on the local needs in each community across Ontario, with the knowledge and tools to ensure people are getting the health care they need more quickly.

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