More than three-quarters (77%) of Ontarians are concerned about the sustainability of the province’s healthcare system, according to a new report.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s survey is published today alongside its report, Transformation through Value and Innovation: Revitalizing Health Care in Ontario. According to the survey, 80% of respondents agree with the statement “Ontario’s healthcare system will need to undergo broad reform to meet the challenges of changing demographics.”

But what do these findings mean for employers? Since 2004, when the Ontario government “delisted” some treatments and exams, including some relating to physiotherapy and eye care, individuals and employers have had to cover the cost themselves, said Allan O’Dette, president and CEO of the OCC.

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“This move to delist is the result of the government trying to support an unsustainable system, and is one of the clear reasons we need change,” he continued. “In order to maintain a healthcare system in which all Ontarians can access needed coverage without onerous financial outlay, the government needs to improve value for dollars spent and increase innovation through both the health technologies offered and the way we deliver health services.

The report is the starting point of the OCC’s year-long Health Transformation Initiative, which will convene stakeholders and industry leaders to develop a blueprint for the future of sustainable healthcare in Ontario, including an opportunity for a partnership with the private sector within the single-payer model.

“As part of the year-long initiative, employers will be at the table to ensure that their voices are represented in this conversation,” said O’Dette.

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“The U.K. and Australia are great examples of how a single-payer system can successfully tap into private sector know-how, innovation and service delivery while still maintaining the goal of subsidized healthcare for everyone. Both countries achieve higher health outcomes than Canada, and rank higher on international system comparison lists.”

According to the report, the Ontario government has also indicated its new priorities for an innovative, patient-first system, including the creation of the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist and naming the province’s first Patient Advocate.

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“Canadians have a genuine fear of what they perceive as ‘American-style’ healthcare, but this ignores both the considerable share of health coverage already delivered by the private sector, as well as the integral role of industry in other countries with a single-payer model, like the U.K. and Australia,” said O’Dette.

“When it comes to healthcare, we must work collaboratively across industry sectors and institutions in order to build a system that is sustainable for generations to come.”

The OCC will release a series of reports in 2016 which will outline how Ontario can improve health outcomes, address fiscal challenges, and leverage untapped economic opportunity in the health sector.

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