Ontario Requires a Dedicated Innovation Strategy to Support, Retain and Grow Our Health Science Sector: Ontario Chamber of Commerce

TORONTO, Aug. 16, 2016 /CNW/ - At a time when the province is trying to address the major challenge of fiscal sustainability, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is suggesting a different approach to fixing the province's health care system and putting patients first. In a report released today, the organization is calling on the provincial government to turn its focus from budget cuts to empowering the health care system to become an economic and productivity driver that is responsive to emerging innovation being developed in our own backyard. The report, Adopting Our Advantage: Supporting a thriving health science sector in Ontario, is the third in a series of health policy reports and is part of the organization's year long Health Transformation Initiative.

Currently in Ontario, the health science sector is struggling to attract local capital, find experienced managerial talent, and access the most important market in the province - the health care system. These challenges mean that entrepreneurs are more likely to partner with foreign investors, as they struggle to find the resources that would give them a strong foothold in Ontario.

"In order for the government to receive a return on its investments in research, and for patients to gain access to the kind of innovations that will improve their quality of life, there needs to be a system-wide integrated strategy to support Ontario's health science sector," said Allan O'Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. "We need to be an earlier adopter of our own innovations. If we were able to do that, it would have a positive impact on our economy, on our health industry, and on our health care system."  

The provincial government invests a significant amount of money into research funding, education, and seed development funds. However, if the companies that emerge from this environment are unable to access the markets or resources they need to scale their business, they are more likely to leave the province causing Ontario taxpayers to lose out on our investment. With innovation being identified as a priority at both the provincial and federal levels, now is the time for government to adopt a cohesive strategy to address the challenges facing this sector and take hold of the opportunity presented by our strengths in health sciences that will lead to a self sustaining, vibrant health economy.

"If we can establish an integrated system that has a collective vision, the potential rewards for Ontario are great. A lack of focused investment in the province's home-grown innovation will only lead to missed opportunity," added O'Dette.

The report's recommendations suggest a cohesive approach to health care that would make it easier to capitalize innovative health science start-ups, attract and retain experienced talent, and provide market access to the public health care system. For this to take place, Ontario requires a dedicated vision for health science innovation, one that recognizes our competitive advantages and makes use of our single-payer system as an economic driver.

SOURCE Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For further information: Media Contact: Rachel Strong, Senior Communications Advisor, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, rachelstrong@occ.ca, (416) 482-5222 ext.2470


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