McGuinty Government Moving forward with WAIT TIME GUARANTEE

    Project Lays Groundwork to Build on Success of Cataract Surgery Wait
    Time Reductions for Ontarians

    TORONTO, March 27 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is moving forward to
establish a wait time guarantee for cataract surgery within the public health
care system with the launch of a project to ensure timely access for patients,
Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today.
    "Our government is committed to improving access to health care for the
people of Ontario," said Smitherman. "Today's announcement builds on Ontario's
successful Wait Time Strategy and allows us to establish a cataract surgery
wait time guarantee."
    Under an agreement with the federal government, the Ontario government
will start a demonstration project this summer to implement a cataract surgery
wait time guarantee. This project will be aimed at patients who are at risk of
waiting longer than the province's current access target of 26 weeks. During
this demonstration project, these patients will be contacted and given the
opportunity to receive access to cataract surgery at another public health
care institution elsewhere in Ontario.
    Following the completion of the demonstration project, Ontario plans to
establish the cataract surgery wait time guarantee by January 1, 2009.
Progress will be reviewed by 2010.
    Since Ontario launched its Wait Time Strategy in 2004, the McGuinty
government has invested $95 million to provide 58,300 more cataract surgeries
- leading to a 41 per cent reduction in wait times.
    "Our investments have driven innovation in the public health care system,
which has enhanced its capacity to provide cataract surgeries," said
Smitherman. "We are very proud of the great progress we have made in reducing
wait times for cataracts. The innovative new ways of delivering cataract
surgery are a credit to our frontline health care providers."

    Examples of the innovative cataract models Ontario's Wait Time Strategy
has unlocked include:

    -   Kensington Eye Institute: created as a not-for-profit high volume
        center for cataract surgery. Kensington is reducing wait times
        through increased efficiency and maximizing capacity;
    -   Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) rural cataract
        surgery model: This model of care provides patients with care closer
        to home by transferring cataract surgeries to a rural hospital. This
        model will be fully operational later this coming year;
    -   Perth/Smiths Falls District Hospital cataract surgery model in the
        South East LHIN: This centralized single intake high volume center is
        intended to increase capacity, reduce wait times, as well as improve
        efficiencies and patient outcomes. It will reduce the number of
        patients that need to travel to Kingston for surgery, increasing
        access to health services for patients living in this area;
    -   Regional Eye Medicine and Eye Surgery Centre in the Hamilton Niagara
        Haldimand Brant LHIN: This model provides patients with the option to
        choose the surgeon with the shortest wait time, builds and promotes
        best practices, and optimizes use of surgical resources in the

    Today's initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan for
innovation in public health care, building a system that delivers on three
priorities - keeping Ontarians healthy, reducing wait times and providing
better access to doctors and nurses.
    Ontarians can now access the wait time at hospitals throughout Ontario for
five key procedures by visiting

    This news release, along with other media materials, such as matte stories
and audio clips, on other subjects, are available on our website at: under the News Media section.

    For more information on achievements in health care, visit:


For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: David Spencer, Minister's
Office, (416) 327-4320; A.G. Klei, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,
(416) 314-6197; Members of the general public: 1-866-532-3161.

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