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Ontario health networks bill passed with commitment to non-profit care.

Legislation enabling the Ontario government to set up Local Health Integration Networks received third reading in the legislature.

The bill was opposed by Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Service Employees International Union, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Ontario Nurses' Association.

Opponents claimed that the LOINs would open greater opportunities for private profit health care. In response changes were made to the preamble to assert the government's commitment to the promotion and delivery of public health care services by not-for-profit organizations, and commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act and the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, 2004.

They also wanted the government to block contracting-out and rationalization of both clinical and non-clinical services. They also wanted to make LHINs accountable to their communities through the popular election of their Boards.

The government held to its original plan and the members will be appointed by Order in Council. "The boards are intended to be skills-based and not necessarily representational of a specific stakeholder group or geographic area. Board members will be selected using a merit-based process, with all candidates assessed for fit between skills and abilities of the prospective appointee and the needs of each individual Local Health Integration Network."

The LHINs aim to "allow important health care decisions to be made at the community level by people who best understand the needs and priorities of community." Health and Long Term Care Minister George Smitherman said.

The 14 LHINs in the province will have the power to plan, integrate and fund local health services--including hospitals, Community Care Access Centres, Community Health Centres, as well as home care, long-term care, mental health, addiction and community support services--for their specific geographic areas and the commitment to the principles of the Canada Health Act and the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act, 2004.
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Title Annotation:HEALTH
Publication:Community Action
Date:Mar 20, 2006
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