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It also calls for a revamp of the eHealth electronic health records agency plagued by scandal four years ago, do more to help patients with chronic diseases to keep costs down, expanding home care, allowing pharmacists and nurses to do more health care now provided by doctors, boosting mental health care and allowing patients to pick their own home care providers if they wish.
The changes would make it easier to limit annual increases in the health care budget — which now accounts for almost half of provincial spending — to about 2 per cent annually as recommended by the Drummond commission a year ago, Hudak said.
Under Hudak’s exercise program for children — who now get 20 minutes of phys ed classes daily under a mandatory phys ed program implemented by Premier Dalton McGuinty after he took power from the Conservatives in 2003 — the Tories hope kids would be more active.
Students in Grade 7 and above would face the requirement for an extra 45 minutes of activity — unless they are exempted for medical reasons — at a time when experts warn higher rates of childhood obesity are dangerous.
Hudak pledged to give school boards the freedom to recognize student participation in a local soccer league and similar sports, and easing insurance regulations and teacher union contracts to allow “appropriately screened community volunteers” to supervise extra sports and fitness at schools.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said Hudak’s policy ideas seem to copy what the Liberal government has already been doing, in consultation with the Ontario Medical Association representing doctors, to improve management of patients with chronic diseases like diabetes and to make sure drugs, medical tests and other treatments are based on evidence that they actually improve outcomes for patients.
“If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I’m blushing,” Matthews said in a statement.
Hudak said eHealth, which is tasked with creating an electronic health record for every Ontarian by 2015, should use more off-the-shelf software instead of creating custom programs that are costly and take too long.
Matthews said that’s been underway since the government clamped down on eHealth in 2009 after a scandal that saw consultants paid as much as $ 3,000 a day expensing tea and chocolate chip cookies to taxpayers.