Ford gov't poised to take major step in creating health super agency this week
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government could risk its reputation and credibility by rushing to implement a health-care overhaul, civil servants warned in planning documents obtained by CTV News Toronto.
The internal presentation, emblazoned with the word "confidential" in capital letters, details some of the key work the government needs to complete by the end of February in order to successfully launch a new “super agency.” The plan would merge Cancer Care Ontario, E-Health, Trillium Gift of Life and Local Health Integration Networks.
The items to be completed include appointing a CEO, board members and signing cabinet orders by February 20, as well as acquiring office space, staff, designated phone lines and a website.
“This is a significant health system transformation,” the documents state.
“If there is an appearance that changes are being rushed without fundamental components of the new agency already in place, stakeholders and media will target the negative impact on health care delivery in public messaging from day one.”
The Premier’s Office confirms Ford and the cabinet are scheduled to meet this Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office declined to comment on the new revelations, except to say that her earlier comments on leaked healthcare legislation stand.
“What we are proposing is a massive transformation of our public health-care system. There are many, many aspects of it to be considered. And we want to make sure we get this right,” Elliott said on February 4, adding that final decisions had yet to be made.
It’s unclear when the internal presentation was drafted or whether it was ever provided to Elliott, the Premier’s Office or any other members of cabinet.
While CTV News Toronto has not been able to independently authenticate the documents, the details contained in them are consistent with earlier planning materials leaked to the NDP, including a key date for when the super agency was to be created.
One page, obtained by CTV News Toronto, charting the implementation timeline, lists January 18 as the date the super agency should be formed by the government.
It was January 17 when Elliott signed several cabinet orders to create and incorporate the Health Program Initiatives agency (HPI), appointing three civil servants to serve as caretaker directors on the board.
Other documents obtained by CTV News Toronto lay out the initial path for the board of the new super agency, and show a rapid implementation once the transformation has been announced.
The CEO of the new agency and board are scheduled to be appointed on February 20, with the first board meeting set to happen within seven days.
Within the first two weeks of the announcement, the super agency is to start negotiating with “20 different agencies” to begin the transition and designate “interim leadership in cases where CEO’s depart.”
“The announcement will generate much noise across the province and a well-planned communications plan must be solidly in place including a well-briefed and supported caucus” one document warns.
Another document maps out a long-term implementation timeline, from the creation of the board to the final result, and includes examples of what the process would look like for certain agencies.
The planning document suggests the new legislation, expected to be introduced by the end of the month, would be passed before the summer, allowing Elliott to “execute transfer orders.”
By 2022, the document states, health-care legislation would be repealed or amended, “legacy agencies” would operate under the new super agency, and the Cancer Act would “no longer exist.”