Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres could have been very different had events unfolded differently in the early 1990s.
At the beginning of that decade home care was considered to have more of a leg in social services than health care.
The Rae government, like those that followed, were attempting to transition services from hospital to community and realized the potential of home care to look after patients discharged early from hospital.
The NDP were also sensitive to complaints that health care policies were being decided by the provider community, not by the users of the system. To that end, they not only encouraged widespread consultation, but even funded groups – particularly those representing seniors and the disabled – to speak to their communities and report back on what they heard.
That process was massive, involving more than 75,000 people, 110 provincial associations, 1,800 submissions and nearly 3,000 public meetings – all taking place within a five month window.
While the previous Peterson government had preferred more of a brokerage model – similar to today’s CCAC model which contracts to for-profit and not-for-profit agencies – the consultation process demonstrated that there was little appetite for a system most believed to be bureaucratic and fragmented.