Ontario must fix chronic-care 'run-around,' Hudak says

PC Leader Tim Hudak and PC MPP Christine Elliott visit Youthdale Treatment Centreon Victoria Street in Toronto on Tuesday February 5 2013

Credits: Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun/QMI


ST. CATHARINES, Ont. -- Tackling chronic care "run-around" could help rein in Ontario's spending on long-term illnesses, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak said Wednesday in an exclusive peek at the Tories' health plans.

At an editorial board meeting with the St. Catharines Standard, Hudak said care for chronic ailments, such as Parkinson's disease, is the key challenge in Ontario medicine. He said the province is spending $9 billion on 170,000 chronic-care patients, but treating them piecemeal.

"There are often patients in our systems who have three or more diseases at once," he said. "The problem is, our system treats that one individual with three diseases as three separate people."

As a result, patients get "the run-around" and go to many different providers for care for disparate ailments.

Hudak said the amount spent on those first 170,000 chronic-care patients drives home the importance of treating long-term disease.

"You can see that chronic care is actually the challenge of our times," he said. "We're going to talk about more of a focus on that."

He said that will be part of the party's white paper, set to be released Thursday.

Hudak's emphasis on chronic care looks to give patients more choice and create health care competition. He said his plans would let patients choose their own care providers.

And he said he would move more services such as cataract treatments out of hospitals and into clinics.

Hudak became visibly emotional when asked if fatherhood had strengthened his position on teachers going above and beyond their duties.

"My little girl is five. We have a great teacher," he said before falling silent, tears welling in his eyes as he paused to collect himself.

"Parents are dying to know how their children are doing in school," he said, praising teachers who give extra help and encouragement. He said teachers should be paid more for doing work beyond their normal duties.

"If somebody's performing minor miracles in the classroom, reward that. Encourage it," he said. "Don't punish it."

The tears came seconds after he laid out a tough stance on unions. He said workers should be allowed to decide not to join a union and union members should get to have secret ballot votes on membership and the right to dictate where their dues go.

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