Northern Ontario continues to face troubling social, health, and economic problems. Why do these problems persist? A growing body of policy and academic literature points to the need for new governance solutions that address the unique circumstances of Northern Ontario.
Northern Policy Institute explores these issues, specifically through the lens of the health care system, and provides potential solutions in their most recent research report, “A Case Study in Northern Governance: Local Decision Making in the Northern Ontario Health Care System” by author Eric Everett.
Through interviews and research, the author explores the relationships between Ontario’s two Northern Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and hospitals, with the goal to determine whether these bodies are meeting their original mandate to local decision-making.
Participants in the study acknowledged that provincial health care reform is not yet finished and that while the situation has improved, more work needs to be done to improve local-decision making and control in Northern Ontario health care governance.
Everett provides a summary of key themes, observations and recommendations in his research that can be used to improve decision making in Northern Ontario’s health care system, some of which include:
1. Greater integration and more local and regional control of Northern Ontario’s health care system
2. There are challenges in recruiting, developing and retaining skilled board members for health service providers.
3. Health reform is too fragmented and incremental, partly due to differing views and inconsistent focus on what the central vision of health care delivery actually is.
The report also suggests that in order to solve these themes, the Ontario government should convene a broad public policy discussion, with inclusive representation from all government levels, Indigenous peoples and key players from health care and Northern Ontario as whole.
To read the full report, visit: https://www.northernpolicy.ca/northern-governance