Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews visited McMaster University on March 16 to speak to health sciences students about the state of health care in Ontario, and to hear their questions and concerns for the future of their professions.
She discussed the difficult challenges facing Ontario's health-care system, including "a rate of growth in health-care spending that is unsustainable" and that is "squeezing out other priorities." The more the government spends on acute care, the less can be spent on preventative care and addressing the social determinants of health, she explained.
"We're really invested on improving the quality of care and relying more on evidence," Matthews said.
During her afternoon visit, Matthews addressed faculty, staff and students from various graduate and undergraduate health sciences programs, including midwifery, medicine, nursing, rehabilitation sciences, physician assistant (PAs) and the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. She fielded questions about the health human resources strategy for PAs and international medical graduates (IMGs) and spoke to other critical issues, such as funding for home care and her vision for community mental health.
Third-year nursing student Victoria Sawatsky, who is currently completing her clinical placement in mental health at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, attended the minister's presentation because hearing what the health minister is doing will help her to better advocate for her patients, she said.
While pleased that the minister mentioned the number of medical graduates is increasing and there is a real focus on putting the right number of doctors in the right places, she said it is equally important to make sure the right team and enough resources are there to provide the best care.
"The doctor can only provide the best care if he has the right teams, so the right number of nurses, dieticians and others," she said.
Matthews also reflected that sentiment during her address, highlighting the importance of health human resources to the delivery of care.
"We're doing a lot to increase the number of doctors that are graduating," she said, pointing to the expansion of medical school spots, the opening of a Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the increased number of IMGs. "We're also relying on our allied health professionals through our Family Health Teams."