Health Bulletin

This document was published under a previous government.

Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

March 2, 2018

We are pleased to share that Dr. Helena Jaczek is the new Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, as well as Chair of Cabinet. She has previously served as Minister of Community and Social Services, as well as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Health Promotion.

Dr. Jaczek has also served on the Standing Committee on Social Policy, as Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on General Government, the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, and the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

After coming to Canada from England as a 12 year old, Dr. Jaczek later received her medical degree and Master of Health Sciences from the University of Toronto and a Master of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

After many years in general practice on staff at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Jaczek became the Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Health Services for the Regional Municipality of York. During her 18 years in this position, she was responsible for public health, land ambulance and long-term care in a region of more than one million people.

Dr. Jaczek has been actively involved with numerous community organizations, including the Ontario Great Lakes Renewal Foundation, York Centre for Children, Youth and Families, York Region District Health Council, Giant Steps Toronto and Newmarket Stingrays Swim Club. She has volunteered with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council and mentored foreign-trained professionals.

We look forward to working with Minister Jaczek to continue to transform the health system.

“I look forward to engaging with our stakeholders on health system transformation and integration, and am committed to sharing our progress on transformation through this regular communication.” 

- Hon. Dr. Helena Jaczek

The Northern Ontario Eye Van: Reducing Access Barriers to Vision Care Services

For this issue of Health System Integration Update, we are spotlighting the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Eye Van, part of the ongoing transformation of our health care system to increase access, equity and integration, and improve patient experience.

In 2017, Health Quality Ontario (HQO) issued Health in the North: A report on geography and the health of people in Ontario’s two northern regions. The report looks at health equity in northern Ontario, exploring access to services and the health status of people living in Ontario’s North East and North West Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The report describes access and health status differences between populations in northern Ontario and other parts of the province and cites several efforts underway to remove barriers and narrow these differences.

The North East and North West LHINs cover about 860,000 square kilometers, which represents nearly 80% of the province’s landmass and is the size of France and the U.K. combined. This diverse region is home to 800,000 people, about 6% of Ontario’s population, with rich diversity including First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Francophone Ontarians and those living in urban, rural and remote communities. Although considerable advances have been made, there remain challenges in accessing needed health services.

Reducing health inequities and barriers to access is a key objective of Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care and requires a focused look at programs and services to assess how they contribute to these goals. The northern Eye Van, operated by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), is illustrative of how an innovative program can address specific challenges (such as a vast geography) and have a positive impact on reducing health inequities and barriers to access.

Founded in 1972, the Eye Van is a program that provides over 4,000 northern Ontarians with critical vision health services each year in their own community. The Eye Van travels to 30 communities throughout northern Ontario to deliver eye care services that would otherwise be difficult to access due to the vast distances between those communities and eye care services. It is a fully-equipped medical eye care clinic, which includes reception and waiting areas, a vision screening area, and a doctor’s examination room.

Ophthalmologist Dr. Steve Kosan examines patient Tab Roos in the Eye Van in Kenora. REG CLAYTON/Kenora Daily Miner and NewsThe Ophthalmology services delivered through the Eye Van provide for the early diagnosis and treatment of eye disease with the goal of preventing blindness in remote and northern communities where Ophthalmologists and basic eye health care services are not readily available. For many Eye Van patients, this service means a chance for early detection if an eye condition is present – and a much greater opportunity to receive treatment and avoid sight loss.

Having just celebrated its 45th year in operation, the province recently invested additional funds to enhance the program infrastructure. This includes a replacement of the Eye Van, which has been redesigned to improve accessibility and privacy, to better enable complete eye examinations for patients served by this important program. This investment in the CNIB Eye Van is just one of the ways that access barriers are being addressed across northern Ontario.

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