This week, the Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, provided a clear vision of what a regional Health Team will do to help modernize and improve our health care system. The new Mississauga Health Team will serve as a health care delivery model as the first round of 23 health teams are being announced over the next few weeks. Each team will be responsible for local health care services, including acute care, home care, long-term care, and mental health. They will move to one record and one care plan for each patient, eliminating the health care siloes of today’s complex system. While swifter care for an ageing population is a priority, each health team will track the care required for every Ontarian – from prenatal to birth to end-of-life. We want life-long care to be community-based, and that includes physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our local health care practitioners are currently working hard to put together a submission to look after the unique challenges of our region. The proposal will undergo a readiness assessment before our new health team begins the phase-in of our integrated medical and health services.
Over the past number of years, I have heard from seniors who are just getting by on fixed incomes. Their pensions remain essentially unchanged and unable to cover increases in property taxes and the cost of living. Too many of our seniors forgo the essential basics, such as a proper diet and dental care, forcing them to endure long hours in our emergency rooms as their health deteriorates. I was proud to see the government announce its plan to provide basic dental services for low-income seniors. This move is another step the government is taking to make life more affordable. The issue is widespread enough that our government is setting aside $90 million for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, which will be eligible for Ontarians 65 and over with an income of $19,300 or less, or for a couple with a combined income of $32,300 or less. This assistance helps seniors take care of small dental issues that, otherwise, could quickly turn into major medical problems. It just makes sense as we try to reduce the expenses caused by emergency department admissions. Preventable dental issues like gum disease, account for more than 60,000 ER visits per year. Eligible seniors can now apply to the program online (www.Ontario.ca/page/dental-care-low-income-seniors). They can also contact their Eastern Ontario Health Unit for an application and further information.
Strategies to make life more affordable comes in many forms, including lower shelter costs. Because of this, our government is committed to providing more affordable housing. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, is implementing Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. We are cutting red tape to help contractors build more homes more quickly. We also recognize the importance that community housing has in providing a home for many of our residents. The new Community Housing Renewal Strategy is designed to help sustain, repair and grow community-housing units. Some of the measures the strategy will undertake to include are the simplifying rent fees, removing rules to help people earn more money or go back to school, protect tenants who receive child support by excluding their payments from rent calculations. We are working together to provide housing that is sustainable today and into the future.