Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews speaks with Donna Cripps (left), CEO of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), and Dyanne Semogas (right), an assistant professor in the School of Nursing.
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 "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.
Matthews added that with the population aging, "We need to make changes now to get the most for our health-care dollars without sacrificing quality.'
She referred to the recently passed Excellent Care for All Act as being a big step toward reaching that goal. According to the Ministry's website, the act "puts patients first by improving the quality and value of the patient experience through the application of evidence-based health care. It will improve health care while ensuring that the system we rely on today is there for future generations.'
Steven Rolfe, a part-time faculty member in the School of Nursing who has a number of students looking to work in mental health after graduation, asked the minister to comment on her vision for community mental health.
"This is a pretty exciting time for Ontario in mental health,' said Matthews, who added that her Ministry is currently finalizing a 10-year mental health and addictions strategy to strengthen and improve mental health and addiction services in the province.
Reducing the stigma around mental health is a very important part of the strategy, said Matthews.
Third-year nursing student Victoria Sawatsky, who is currently completing her clinical placement in mental health at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, agreed, saying that mental health is "a really stigmatized area of health and not talked about enough.'
Sawatsky attended the minister's presentation because hearing what the health minister is doing will help her to better advocate for her patients, she said.