Ontario's health care system performance 'mixed:' provincial agency report

Health Quality Ontario's annual report finds the province's health care system is excelling in some areas, lagging in others.

Ont. "worst" in terms of ability to get a primary care appointment the same or next day when sick

A new report about the performance of Ontario's health care system finds mixed results. (CBC)

A report card of Ontario's health care system released Monday finds that while the province is excelling in some areas, it is lagging in others.

Anna Greenberg is the vice president, health system performance at Health Quality Ontario. (University of Toronto)

"There's lots to celebrate - things like Ontarians are living longer, and that people are getting their cancer surgery within target times," explained Anna Greenberg, a vice president of Health Quality Ontario, the provincial agency that authored the report.

"But there's also stuff to look at where we need to improve. The point of this report is to point out both," she explained in an interview with CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.

Some of those areas include:

  • more hospital beds occupied by patients waiting for care elsewhere
  • an increase in distress among informal caregivers (like family or friends)
  • an inability to receive timely palliative care
  • inequities by income for colorectal cancer screening

The report uses 50 indicators to monitor the health care system, and is compared with other systems nationally and internationally.

Notably, the report states that "compared to 10 socioeconomically similar countries, Ontario is the worst in terms of patient reported ability to get a primary care appointment the same or next day when sick."

Southwestern Ontario home to unique problems

Greenberg said that while the health care system in southwestern Ontario performs, for the most part, at the provincial average, there are some unique issues in this region, such as obesity.

"We see a higher rate in this region than in Ontario as a whole," she said.

Other issues in southwestern Ontario include worse after-hours access to doctors, and lagging performance of long-term care facilities compared to the rest of the province in areas such as the likelihood of falling and daily pain.

To hear the entire interview, tap on the audio player below.