The Honourable Tony Clement, Federal Minister of Health, and the Honourable George Smitherman, Health Minister of Ontario, announced that Ontario will establish a Patient Wait Times Guarantee for cataract surgery by January 1, 2009, to be supported by $205 million in federal funding.
Ontario will also be eligible to benefit from the $400 million in new funding for Canada Health Infoway, and the $30 million for pilot projects as announced in Budget 2007.
Ontario is the third province to commit to a wait times guarantee, following a Nova Scotia commitment to a guarantee for cancer radiation therapy, and a Quebec commitment to establish guarantees in hip, knee and cataract surgeries.
“Canada’s New Government congratulates Ontario for its leadership in announcing its first Patient Wait Times Guarantee, and for being one of the first provinces to make this commitment,” said Minister Clement. “Canadians have asked for federal-provincial cooperation in advancing Canada’s health care system, and with today’s announcement we are proud that Ontarians will soon be guaranteed timely health care access in the area of cataract surgery.”
Between now and the time the guarantee takes effect, Ontario will undertake a pilot project within the province’s public health care system for patients who are at risk of waiting more than 26 weeks for cataract surgery. These patients will be offered the surgery at another location within Ontario where they will not have to wait beyond the 26 week access target to receive their surgery. Results from the project will help determine how to implement the guarantee.
“We’re very proud of the progress we’ve already made in reducing wait times for a number of key health services, including cataract surgery which has been reduced by over 40 per cent,” Smitherman said. “We look forward to working with the federal government to further reduce cataract wait times, so that thousands more Ontarians will have their eyesight restored and enjoy a better quality of life sooner.”
This announcement marks another step forward by Canada’s New Government as it continues to work towards ensuring that all Canadians receive essential medical treatment within clinically acceptable wait times. Quebec has already announced its intention to establish guarantees of access in hip, knee and cataract surgeries.