Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
Physician recruitment was the primary focus of a closed-door meeting between Progressive Conservative health critic Christine Elliott and local health care professionals in Stratford Friday.
When it comes to keeping doctors in the province, Elliott, the deputy PC leader, said she’s been told many graduates are coming out of school with expectations in terms of practice that are different than what the health care system is currently offering.
“We need to align them better, the expectations with the operation of the system,” she added. “It’s something we need to continue to work on.”
Elliott, who on Friday also held discussions in Kitchener and Mount Forest, has been travelling across Ontario since the release of the PC’s second white paper on health care to collect feedback on the document and hear about other areas of concern.
She said the white paper is an evolving document, and that the information being collected from stakeholders and the public will be taken into consideration as the PC caucus develops policy on health care.
“We don’t pretend to have all the answers,” added Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, who joined Elliott on her stop in the region. “And certainly we take (constituents’) advice back to help with the evolving of all the white papers.”
Elliott’s stop in Stratford also included a round-table discussion with members of the public including municipal councillors, representatives from community groups and various other health care service providers.
The Whitby-Oshawa MPP stressed the need for a health care system that does a better job promoting health education and prevention, and one where decisions are made based on what’s best for the patient and their families.
She said the system in general has to be less reactive to acute episodes of illness and more proactive in terms of chronic disease management.
“Chronic care issues are becoming front and centre as we have an aging population,” she noted. “We need to make sure our system is equipped to deal with that.”
The PC’s white paper zeros in on the growing concern around mental health and addiction, two areas that Elliott said some progress has been made, but not enough.
The paper also addresses the need for better community care, calling for an increased investment in home care to meet a growing demand while taking some of the pressure off hospitals.
“People find they are discharged from hospital without the necessary supports, and then what you have is people cycling back into hospital because they’re not getting better,” she noted.
Asked whether her tour of the province could be viewed as pre-election legwork, Elliott said she did not want to speculate as to when Ontarians might head back to the polls. But just as she’s sure the other parties are doing, she said the PCs want to ensure they are attuned to the needs of local communities so they can formulate meaningful policies in the future.